IFLA day #2 in Cape Town South Africa

As with any conference, the fun part is time between sessions when you get to have more in-depth chats about library stuff.  This afternoon I had coffee with Ari Katz from Beyond Access, who is now based in Thailand working on a multi-year capacity building project with libraries in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Philippines and Thailand.  There were so many commonalities between the work he is doing and our work at FAVL, and of course having the same questions (how effective is this?) and concerns (can we succeed in sharing a culture of innovation and creativity with staff of library service providers?).  He shared with me a great Android app, Com Phone, that I am going to have the staff in Burkina Faso test.  He also suggested using surveymonkey as a way to have librarians (if they can connect to the Internet) update library usage statistics at the end of every month.  Great idea!  Finally, he promised to share a bunch of training tools (and a lengthy manual) that was developed for the program.  Would be fantastic to use for our upcoming training of 20 librarians!  We both agreed that library enabling legislation needs to be updated from the 1960s

Later this evening I got to finally sit down for 30 minutes with Viviana Quinones, children’s library section at the Centre national de la littérature pour la jeunesse, Bibliothèque nationale de France.  Viviana is so wonderful, and produces the fantastic resource Takam Tikou, which for Francophone Africa is an essential service, and she also edited and brought to publication Faire vivre une bibliotheque de jeunesse, a great guide for library activities.  We’re both optimistic about a likely resurgence of interest in Francophone countries in promoting reading and libraries.  (being in South Africa you cannot help but be optimistic: the country now have almost 2000 libraries for 50 million people… Burkina Faso has maybe 50 for 17 million people.  So the library per person ration of South Africa to Burkina Faso is like 40:3 or 13:1…. while GDP per capita ratio is about 10:1.  If Burkina grows at 7%, it will get to South Africa level in about 30 years… and libraries will grow from the present 50 to about 600 libraries (and more if population keep growing).  That is a lot of libraries!  They will be more effective if Burkina Faso starts investing now, and learns (institutionally) from the investments and experiments that are made early on.

Oh, my talk went well, I think.  Hard to tell when you are up at the podium and there are 250 people scattered in the hall that is built for 1,000!  I really enjoyed presentations by Carole Bloch, Jane Meyers, Ahiauzu Blessing  who spoke of reading programs they operate in libraries in Africa.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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