30m Ghanaians depend on only 61 public libraries – Authority
Ghana’s population continues to rise astronomically with recent figures showing that its citizens are hitting 30 million.
Educationists have also complained about the falling standards of education despite technological advancements and have called for students to develop the habit of reading.
However, a startling revelation by Mr. Hayford Siaw, the acting CEO of the Ghana Library Authority, indicates that the 30 million Ghanaian population depend on only 61 libraries dotted across the length and breadth of the country.
“In a population of almost 30 million people, we have only 61 footprints of libraries service to citizens,” he said in an interview on the Citi Breakfast Show. According to him, a number of district and assemblies and philanthropists put up libraries but because they don’t consult the authority before undertaking such projects, they tend to erect structures that are not fit for purpose.
“A lot of district assemblies have been setting up libraries and corporate institution have been setting up libraries, but because of the non-engagement of Ghana Library Authority with these philanthropists and partners and district assemblies, we have seen that these libraries have collapsed,” he added.
He stated that one systematic issue that is killing libraries in Ghana is the removal and discarding of old books without replacement.
Hayford Siaw also added that the Authority would soon sign an agreement with Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) to install computers in all public libraries across the country.
He explained, that it is a necessary step for the country to adapt to the technological age.
“Ghana Library Authority as part of its 5 years strategic plan has a technology strategy and the technology is in three prone areas. One is automation of our attitude, the other is having electronic reading corners within your library that is having a computer which has a lot of content that anyone, who is the member of the library can access. Hopefully next week we are signing a new partnership with Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) which is going to install computers across our entire library,” he said.
Ghana Library Authority, Mr. Hayford said, has made new partnerships that would bring in new collections of books of about 100,000 and also finishing up some uncompleted libraries across the country.
“There are systematic issues. As at 1980, we had around one million books on our shelves but as at today, we have 500,000. We have been doing a lot of removals without necessarily replacing them and the numbers of books we receive don’t match the number being taken out,” he said.
V/Regional Library faces eviction; 15-yr old library project abandoned
Mr. Hayford made the comments on the back of a Citi News report that a library project in the Volta Region which is about 80% completed has been abandoned for close to three years now.
The Volta Regional Library has received eviction notices from the Bankoe Evangelical Presbyterian Junior High School in Ho, whose Home Science Department is hosting the current Regional Library.
Mr. Guy Amarteifio, Volta Regional Librarian said authorities of the Bankoe E.P. Church and the Basic School had met with management of the Library several times to take the facility back to be used by the school.
“…We are unable to serve a chunk of the society because of the current state of our library, and if we are sacked from this place too, then we do not know where to go,” Mr Amarteifio lamented.
Meanwhile, the new library project, which started in 2003 and is said to be 80 percent complete, is under lock by the contractor who allegedly kept the keys because his certificates were not honoured.
The ultra-modern Regional Library funded by GETFund has an Information Communication Technology department, administration, adults’ library, children’s library, circulation department and a 200 reading area capacity.