Education  Ghana Project #29847

Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans

by The African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans
Bring innovative libraries to 100,000 Africans

Computer Literacy boosting employability in Eastwood, Pietermaritzburg Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa

Computer literacy may sound so common to some people as many people have access to it. It was not so for Eastwood, a suburb of Pietermaritzburg, Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa.The community was previously a coloured community, however in the post-apartheid era, it is now dominated by Black people and foreigners who have moved into squatter camps surrounding it.The community is riddled with many social ills, poverty being at its highest.Schools in the area are without a media center (computer room and library). The Eastwood Library sits in the heart of the community servicing 39,711 (thirty-nine thousand, seven hundred and eleven) people who speak various languages.

Generally, 36.1 % of South Africa’s youth (15 to 34 years) are unemployed. This is no different in Eastwood, Pietemaritzburg.The National Development Plan (NDP) calls for all South Africans to work together to realize the goal of reducing the unemployment rate to 14% by 2020 and 6% by 2030. It is quite evident that the youth is the future of South Africa’s economy and they need to be equipped with technical and vocational skills and knowledge to enable them have decent jobs and/or go into entrepreneurship.

Before the INELI-SSAf training, Sunitha did not see the connection between the Eastwood library, the youth and the unemployment challenge. At the AfLIA INELI SSAf program, her eyes were opened to possibilities and pathways for tackling the challenge. She gained a better understanding of the role of public libraries in their different communities and it dawned on her that the Eastwood library was well situated to help young people in the community get employed and achieve their dreams.

The INELI SSAf training equipped her with the skills and confidence to assess the community by speaking to relevant stakeholders to establish the number of youth in the community who are faced with this challenge. She spoke to people as individuals and groups and used a questionnaire where possible to understand the problem and how best to tackle it from the viewpoint of the community. This led her to appreciate what the community wants and expects and not just what the library offers.

The INELI-SSAf training also taught her how to advocate and she used the skill to raise awareness about the challenge and the initiative the library needed to take to tackle it.She spoke out, verbally and in writing, for assistance from government agencies, non-profit and private organizations to ensure the issue is tackled. She sought further collaborations and partnerships to ensure that the library initiative aimed towards lowering unemployment in the community worked.

The INELI-SSAf training also exposed her to how to better utilize spaces in the library, manage time and effectively plan personally and officially as well as develop and implement strategic plans. Furthermore, the mentorship programme of INELI-SSAf and the module on managing and promoting change were all critical in building her up to work on helping young people in her community gain technical and vocational skills that will make them more employable.


The Library gratefully decided to train the students of Eastwood High School on computer literacy to boost their employability quotient. The target group was Grade 12 learners (17-19yrs). They were taught computer basics, Microsoft Office software, basic Internet navigation to help them communicate electronically, search for opportunities online and have skills to perform basic office functions using the computer. The Eastwood Library was turned into a learning environment for 247 young people after school hours and during holidays so that they could learn. Sunitha’s earlier interactions with the community helped the library to decide on these time frames. The training is continuing and is in high demand and very relevant.

The young people are happy as being able to use a computer puts them at a distinct advantage when they apply for jobs. In 2019, 57 learners completed the program, of which 41 gained employment and 51 have enrolled to study via University of South Africa. 109 learners registered for the program in 2020. 47 learners thus far have completed training but due to COVID 19 the program was put on hold and has resumed in 2021. 197 students were assisted online to make applications for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) which is a government funding for learners to further their tertiary education at government cost. 47 learners were assisted to join the South African Youth Employment programme, a government initiative whereby schools employ students and they get a stipend of R3500.

Sunitha concludes her story with these words “INELI-SSAf introduced me to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and helped me to ‘locate’ my community within the development framework thus broadening my knowledge on how to go about supporting and growing development in my community. Importantly, INELI-SSAf has instilled confidence in me as an African public librarian and has motivated me as an information professional to take risks, try and if it fails try again until one gets it right”.

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Esther brings life to Nyegina Community Library with innovative access to information

Libraries are for provision of information. When libraries are situated in communities, the expectation is that the facilities, resources and space will be utilized by the community to better and transform their lives, aid quality education and serve as a learning, cultural, literacy and information hub for all sections of the community.

Service provision by Nyegina Community Library to users to meet their information requirements was on a very low level. Esther’s community in Nyegina, Musoma district of Mara Region, Tanzania was hardly using the library located there despite the available resources, study carrels and other facilities in the library. The few people that used the library complained of inability to access current information that they needed. The library was faced by lack of access to needed resources, making clients unsatisfied and so keeping them away.

Before getting enrolled on the AfLIA’s INELI SSAf Esther had an understanding that the library was there to provide information that users will surely need. She never considered the possibility of innovative ways to ensuring that more and current resources and information got to users. INELI-SSAf completely changed her mind-set and attitude.

She learnt that as a librarian she can be creative and bring up innovative services to serve her user community better. Through the Time Management module in the INELI-SSAf programme, shelearnt how to avoid work delays or escape procrastination. Every day after the training when she remembered the phrase , ‘Don’t be a procrastinator’ it spurred her on to use time creditably in serving and not be a laggard. She strived to work hard by dividing her duties into small manageable chunks with milestones that ensured she finished all on time. She now uses a diary to schedule her appointments, daily and monthly duties to ensure that every work is done on time. This is a big step for her.

In addition, she created a WhatsApp group for users to provide Current Awareness Services (CAS) and also began displaying new books or journals. This helps her community members to have a feeling of belongingness about the library and begin to seek how the library can help them more with their information needs. The WhatsApp group also provides a forum for community members to ask questions and receive answers from the library.

She went further to create stickers and a brochure with library services information for advertisement including the year’s calendar. This helps the community members to better understand how to access resources physical and electronically, the opening times of the library and other information that make the library easier to use.

The INELI-SSAf training has made Esther confident to learn and acquire further skills so much so that she has taught herself how to use online information including the use of Mendeley software that is used by researchers, authors and students in writing their papers. Esther is so happy that she is now an expert on that and able to train her users on how to use this software for citation and referencing in APA style. She also trains library users on how to search other databases.

INELI SSAf has changed Esther’s perspective on different things and she now knows that impossible is just an opinion. The training has made her to make Nyegina Community library to be more responsive to the information requirements of her user community. The library is now a beehive of activities and a hub for students, teachers, lecturers and others whom the library serves.

Esther says with joy in her eyes, that “Personally, the training has equipped me with confidence to stand before crowds and share my thoughts or run trainings. The advocacy module of the INELI-SSAf programme has also provided avenues for me to engage community leaders for the purposes of assisting the library. Most importantly, the training has helped me to provide solutions on current information accessibility to my users”. Esther could not have said it better than this.

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Elizabeth makes Poultry farmers out of alcoholic women

Lagam Elgeyo Marakwet County in Kenya was noted for illicit brewing and excessive consumption of alcohol by women. This posed a developmental challenge which negatively affected the socioeconomic growth of the county by fueling addiction that led to increased family break ups, low educational performance, low agricultural achievements, poor health, increased criminal activities, and immorality. Women and girls who were into this illicit brewing and consumption of alcohol were vulnerable and easily exposed to danger.

Elizabeth, a staff of the Kenya National Library Services branch at Lagam Elgeyo Marakwet County had a burning passion to help these women learn new skills but she had no idea on how to go about it or the courage to step forward and take a positive action. When she participated in INELI-SSAf Cohort 2 program she was assigned a group with three other Kenyans and were told to choose a name for the group. They chose ‘Brave Buffaloes’ although they were not brave enough then. However, when they were taken through training sessions such as Change management, Innovations, Community partnerships, Taking Smart Risks and How to Advocate in Communities, things changed as she became empowered by what she learnt. When they were asked to choose a community project she decided to train the women of Elgeyo Marakwet County to explore alternative business opportunities that will have positive social economic benefits to themselves and the community as a whole.

The women were identified through discussions and a community survey. Her colleagues understood her burning passion that the women needed to learn how to support each other in order to quit illicit brewing and consumption of alcohol. Using library resources, the women were trained on group formation and management skills. They were encouraged to network and set up small groups to facilitate support.The library sought the help of poultry farmers in the community and the identified women were trained on poultry farming management and building of a poultry house. Through the skills acquired in INELI-SSAf training on Partnership, Elizabeth was able to form partnerships with NGOs and other stakeholders in the community to assist in providing the women and girls with hens and cocks as startup capital to begin a new life. They are now engaging in poultry business and making decent income and they are very happy and appreciative of the push Elizabeth gave them.

Since the inception of the program, over 1200 women have been trained and 99% have opted to change and engage in other income generating activities which is not harmful to their health and that of their community. The women have gained confidence in tackling life without being under the influence of alcohol as they interact and support each other in their small groups. The community is gaining as there is less addiction among the women and young girls.

Elizabeth has been recognized and appreciated by the County authorities. This work of Elizabeth has opened the doors for her and made it easier for her to carry out advocacy for the needs of the library to be satisfied and she is seeing good results. Elizabeth believes that every community in Africa deserves a librarian that has INELI-SSAf training!

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There is no denying the fact that an unclean environment is a source of various types of diseases. The most common of such diseases is Cholera. Cholera can attack a community and can be fatal if swift measures are not taken to treat persons affected.

Jummai, a Librarian with the National library of Nigeria, FCT Branch Area 2 Abuja, is a participant in INELI -SSAf Cohort 2 program of AfLIA. She had been driving past this refuse dump site which is close to a residential area for quite some time. She did not really feel bothered thinking that she is a librarian and not a sanitation officer so she should concentrate on her profession and job.

As a participant of the INELI -SSAf program she went through training modules including ‘Innovation (SDGs)’; ‘Community partnership’; ‘Change management’; as well as ‘My Library makes a Difference’. These trainings set her thinking and she realised that a librarian is capable of doing something outside the library to bring about change and innovation for an improved life for people in her community.  

She contacted the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and held discussions with them as to how she could partner with them to clear a refuse dump site in the community at Pykasa, Abuja and make the site eco-friendly. She discovered that the dumping of the refuse was done mostly by children who were sent by the parents to dump the refuse in the container the local government had placed there for the purpose. She then encouraged the children who visit her library, including those living in that area, to get interested in keeping the environment clean. This she did by creating an extension activity where the children are taken through several topics about how to keep the environment clean by proper disposal of waste, planting vegetables and flowers in areas prone to refuse dumping, among others.

The refuse dump was subsequently cleared with the help of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board and the community now has a clean environment. She is so excited about what she has done that she intends to take on other activities which will make an impact in her community.

Her library now also has a very strong presence of children who use the library because of their interest in the extension activities which now include skills acquisition such as tailoring, photography, and computer appreciation.

The children were taken to the site after the first rainfall to prepare the land for gardening only to find out that the opposite space is now being used as the new dump site. This means that she has to do more education to stop the habit of dumping refuse in that area completely. She plans to go back to AEPB to seek their assistance to clear the new place too, which she is sure she will succeed because she has developed a relationship with them.

Jummai has this to say “It has always been my joy to acquire additional training to make me do my work as a librarian better. Never did it cross my mind that undertaking training in the INELI- SSAf program will get me exposed to working with my community in areas other than libraries. This journey with the Abuja Environmental Protection Board has been an eye opener and a very exciting one. Again, getting myself involved in interests other than libraries in my community, this environment activity, has given me confidence and boldness that I can venture into more activities other than library work and be relevant to my community. Librarians can be change agents outside the library”.

Stories like this from the participants of our INELI-SSAf program which has impact on our communities embolden us to train more librarians for all the countries of Africa. Your donation will help us to provide training to librarians to work in areas in communities other than libraries which will benefit the community by improving the quality of their lives.

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Folasade drives Information Campaign on dangers of plastic bags

Plastics do not decompose easily and are a threat to the soil with huge implications for food security. Plastic bags are everywhere in our communities posing serious environmental and health issues.

Folashade Adepoju, a librarian at the National Library of Nigeria saw this problem in Abuja, Nigeria and felt compelled to disseminate information on alternatives to the use of plastic bags especially as there is an absence of regulatory policies to control the use of plastic bags, coupled with lack of information on the dangers of plastic bags and their wrong waste management practices. 

Being a participant in INELI -SSAf Cohort 2 made her to understand that provision of information by libraries is a sure way of achieving the SDGs. INELI- SSAf also gave her ideas about how to engage her community and provide targeted information services that could transform her community. Her library holds series of community engagement/sensitisation sessions with children, young people and recently other community members joined to clear a waste dump riddled with plastic bags. Her library also shares learning resources on the dangers of plastic bags and trains kids on how to make simple plastic bags using Maya software for their everyday use.

Folashade spoke to over 500 kids and adults on the dangers of plastic bags during the SDGs activation programme in Abuja, Nigeria and why government should join in the fight to stop the usage. The alternatives she advocates for are the use of cloth bags, recyclable bags and paper bags for groceries and shopping. Presently, they have a video clip that is used online for disseminating information on the dangers of plastic bags –

More people in the Abuja community are now conscious of the dangers of plastic bags. Butchers and market women are ready to change from using plastic to paper bags or cloth bags. From the feedback they received from schools, children took the message home and now discourage their parents from accepting or using plastic bags. Attitudinal change is taking place as people ask for paper bags after shopping.

Folashade says “INELI- SSAf has inculcated the zeal of transforming my community into me and has equipped me with advocacy skills. My library will continue to disseminate information about the dangers of plastic bags as well as start advocacy for regulatory policies on the matter. We have written a storybook to clearly illustrate how plastic bags endanger the environment. Thank you AfLIA. Thank you INELI - SSAf for making me a bold, visionary and environment-loving librarian”

This and more are what the INELI-SSAf program does for communities through the skilling of librarians to tackle areas of need of their communities. Your donations enable us to skill people like Folasade to support their communities and assist in achieving the SDGs.

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Organization Information

The African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA

Location: Accra - Ghana
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @#aflia
Project Leader:
Helena Asamoah-Hassan
Accra, Ghana
$20,105 raised of $50,000 goal
238 donations
$29,895 to go
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