Your Name and Title: Mr. Hayford Siaw (Chief Executive Officer)
Library, School, or Organization Name: Ghana Library Authority
Co-Presenter Name(s): Mr. Edward Addo-Yobo
Area of the World from Which You Will Present: Ghana
Language in Which You Will Present: English
Target Audience(s): Everyone
Short Session Description (one line): Ghana Library Authority serves as a safe haven for young Ghanaians to have access to knowledge resources both digitally and physically.
Full Session Description (as long as you would like): Ghana Library Authority is a community anchor that addresses economic, education, and health disparities in the community. Educational programmes, print and digital books, databases, meeting spaces, and instructions on how to use new technologies are among the many resources and services provided by libraries. Libraries are important because they improve the quality of life in a community, promote literacy and reading, and provide many people with a chance to succeed.
Websites / URLs Associated with Your Session: www.library.gov.gh
Libraries have long served as community anchors as they provide services that enhance civic and cultural engagement, facilitate lifelong learning, promote digital inclusion, and support economic growth through programmes and services. Community anchors actively support projects that investigate and build the skills and knowledge of library professionals to support the role of libraries in communities; and the Ghana Library Authority has for the past years, played these roles through diverse projects and programmes, and engaged in long standing efforts to demonstrate its value as community anchors to improve the quality of life in the community, promote literacy and reading, and provide many people with a chance to succeed
The GhLA has and is consciously working to become a place for learning in multiple domains, aid in workforce development which in turn could help local economic growth and provide resources in the form of materials and active learning opportunities. With the onset of the corona virus pandemic, the Authority further up-scaled opportunities for the public to accessing reading materials in an attempt to bridge technological digital divide, promote digital access, equity, opportunity, and inclusion.
This proposal document aims to shed light on this topic by identifying or expatiating on innovative practices by Ghana that reveals the role of public libraries as anchor institutions in communities.
BRIEF BACKGROUND OF THE GHANA LIBRARY AUTHORITY
Ghana Library Authority (GhLA) is a state agency with oversight responsibility over school and public libraries in Ghana.It is the sole agency mandated by law to establish, equip, manage and maintain public libraries in Ghana, and provide Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs) to schools and inculcate lifelong learning among our citizens to help improve the learning outcomes in the country. This we do by working jointly with other state actors.
The vision and mission of the Authority is to connect every Ghanaian to knowledge resources and be a leading knowledge services hub in the sub-region to radically improve literacy and development outcomes that transform lives and communities.
The Library Service run by the Ghana Library Authority (GhLA) became the de facto public library service in Ghana as it is one of the pre-independence heritages birthed in a single room in 1950 at the King George Memorial Hall with an initial collection of 27,000 books and total member of 3,000. Over the years, the Ghana Library Authority’s service experienced challenges and was at risk of collapse given the immense financial, operational and programme efficacy challenges faced in maintaining operations with a view to enabling literacy driven efficacy. Today, the GhLA which epitomizes one of the rich heritages of this country has re-positioned itself and grown to possess a little over half a million books underpinned by a membership supported by a footprint of 103 branches across the country.
The Authority declared the year 2021 as the Year of Literacy aimed at achieving the following objectives:
- Increase number of literacy interventions implemented by GhLA.
- Build capacity of public and school librarians in delivering digital library service.
- Increase number of library resources available to patrons.
- Expand library network.
- Create conducive environment for learning.
BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND UPGRADING SKILLS OF THE GHANAIAN YOUTH: THE GHANA LIBRARY AUTHORITY INITIATIVES
Below are the innovative strategies, programmes, services, and tools the Ghana Library Authority is implementing that shows their efforts as community anchors working to address challenges associated with digital equity, access, and inclusion, as well as issues of security and privacy
As part of the Ghana Library Authority’s technology strategy to radically connect Ghanaians to learning resources through online learning platforms, the Read2Skill project was introduced in 2020. This is an attempt to bridge the gap between the job market and our educational institutions. The Authority through partnerships with other international bodies such as the Commonwealth of learning was able to secure over 35,000 licenses for Ghanaians on MOOCs platforms such as Coursera, Udemy and Google to help interested applicants upgrade and re-grade themselves. This is also meant to assist learners who lost their jobs during the covid period to learn new skills required by the job market or help start their own businesses after completion. The Authority had over 145,309 leaners enrolling on various courses, 9,616 were able to graduate with 22,971 certificates acquired by learners in various fields of study.
PARTNERING WITH TELECOMMUNICATION NETWORKS FOR THE ZERO RATING OF THE GHANA LIBRARY APP
With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the library app which had already been developed was upgraded to a new and easy navigation interface and to include more resources. In addition, the Authority has successfully zero rated the Ghana Library app and is working actively with the telecommunication networks to zero-rate other products, specifically Edmodo. With zero-rating, Ghanaians can access and use applications without incurring data charges, allowing everyone with a smart device the opportunity to be involved thus, improving access and inclusion.
PROVIDING ACCESS TO COMPUTERS AND INTERNET THROUGH THE ESTABLISHMENT OF ICT HUBS AND TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION HUBS
The Ghana Library Authority as an educational institution has a mission of bridging the technological gap in the library services from the traditional brick and mortar operations. This charged the Authority to struck partnership with Ghana Investment Funds for Electronics Communications (GIFEC), Vodafone Foundation and other institutions alike for the supply of computers and other electronic gadget as well as internet connectivity. The provision of these computers allowed the Authority to consciously create ICT hubs in its library networks for improved access to these computers and internet by patrons of the library. In addition, students also receive periodic trainings in basic ICT through these hubs for improved knowledge and skills.
This initiative was carried out with the assistance of institutions like Vodafone Ghana Foundation, GIFEC, The Rebecca Foundation, etc. Currently, over fifty percent (50%) of GhLA’s libraries across the nation have been provided with computers and its accessories to serve our patrons or users effectively and efficiently. In addition, the Authority through an initiative by the Ministry of Education, has benefitted from internet service provision to all libraries in the regional capital. This will allow more patrons to have unlimited access to the internet. This is to be replicated in all libraries across the nation in the long run.
Another area of great concern to the Authority is Senior High School libraries. For years, almost all Senior High School libraries in the country have become non-functional forfeiting the original purpose for its establishment. In 2020, the Authority was put in charge of procuring computers and other peripherals for selected Senior High Schools across the nation, under the Library Assessment project. Over 30 schools have currently benefited from this initiative.
AUTOMATION OF THE ISSUANCE OF ISBN, ISSN.ISMN AND CIP
Ghana Library Authority (GhLA) has also officially launched an online application system for the issuance of International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN), International Standard Serial Numbers (ISSN), International Standard Music Numbers (ISMN) and Cataloguing- In- Publication (CIP). The relevance of the introduction of an online application system of the ISBN, ISSN, ISMN and the CIP online platform allows stakeholders to sit in the comfort of their homes and offices and have ISBN issued to them. This online application system increases the efficiency and speed of the issuance process of this ISO certification for information and documentation.
MOBILE HANDS-ON ICT CLASS PROJECT
In Ghana, many rural schools do not have computers or internet connections, thus children are forced to learn about ICT in the abstract. As a result, exam failure rates in ICT in these communities are high. The ICT course also being a compulsory subject for children to write during the final Basic Education Certificate Exam (B.E.C.E) determines progress to secondary education or Senior High School. The Library Authority together with other partners realizing this, has from 2015 undertaken the mobile library hands-on ICT class project in rural and underprivileged schools in selected communities of the country. The overall goal of the project is to provide hands- on computer classes to rural Junior High School pupils for improved ICT education of school children in selected communities and improved performance of school children in the ICT exams as a part of Ghana’s BECE. Over 5000 children have benefitted from this initiative and have recorded massive increase in BECE ICT exam pass rate.
EARLY GRADE COMMUNITY READING INTERVENTION
The closure of schools due to the rapid spread of the Corona Virus pandemic necessitated the implementation of this initiative to ensure the continuation of education. The Authority realized that many disadvantaged communities and schools who did not have access to internet could not access the numerous interventions rolled out by the Government in an attempt to move pedagogy online. This initiative therefore despite the risk involved took the form of physical outreach services to deliver books to these children and change them periodically. The initiative among its targeted population includes children with special needs. It also built the capacity of the teachers in library management and effective reading methods for improved literary outcomes.
YOUTH ENGAGEMENT CENTRES
The Ghana Library Authority with support from UNICEF are establishing Youth Engagement Centres in Ghana after recognizing the need to impact Ghanaians with digital, entrepreneurial and advocacy skills and to empower them with opportunities to tackle unemployment. The centers would create a supportive environment for young people to freely express themselves and equip them with skills to live responsible and productive lives. These centres will be created in our public library settings because it provides a conducive environment for people to connect to knowledge resources which in turn improves literacy to improve the lives of individuals. This forms part of the Authority’s agenda to engage young people and provide avenues to equip themselves with knowledge and skills.
SECURITY AND PRIVACY
Regarding the issue of security and privacy, the GhLA's systems and applications are protected with multiple system security software and practices that ensure that systems are robust and insulated from attacks. Also, policies have been instituted in accordance with the provisions of national and industrial legislation, which ensure that data laws and privacy are maintained.
The Ghana Library Authority’s vision is to connect every Ghanaian to knowledge resources. Therefore, in order to attain this, the Ghana Library Authority has created several initiatives and implemented several policies to encourage Ghanaians to want to improve their learning literacy. To connect Ghanaians digitally, the Ghana Library Authority has also uploaded 4,059 eBooks, 13,620 audiobooks, and 1,000 videos on its digital app. To sum up, all these initiatives among others are aimed at improving the lives of Ghanaians and creating that conducive and healthy environment for Ghanaians both young and old to have access to knowledge resources and acquire and improve upon their skills and knowledge to be productive in their society and nation.