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

Lola is a Librarian. She found out in the regular Readership Promotion Campaign organised by her Library that orphans are generally left out when it comes to developing reading culture, because of the situation surrounding their lives. Most people and organisations concentrate on donating food and clothing materials to them than books. The mental capacity also needs to be developed.

To address the issue and salvage the situation, she embarked on a rescue mission by using the trainings she acquired from INELI-SSAf, especially in community engagement and advocacy, as a platform to provide practical innovative library service to the orphans. She also adopted Goal 4: Quality Education, 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, which is aimed at ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Lola adopted an orphanage in her community and launched a reading club, set up a library with the motto ‘’Readers are Leaders and Knowledge is Power’’. This is tailored to develop literacy skills and reading culture irrespective of their status and vulnerability and to launch them into the competitive world of development. She then had advocacy talks and visited families, friends and stakeholders in the community educating them on the importance of providing libraries in orphanages. She also encouraged family and friends to donate books to orphanages during their birthday celebrations in addition to the trend of donating food and clothing to the orphanages.

At the end of 12 months, 60% of the orphans are now readers. The orphans are now inspired and passionate to become great in life, as most of the books in the library are books of great influencers who have made it in life irrespective of their background and the circumstances surrounding them.

This service is intended to be a sustained innovative library service not a one - off intervention. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has hindered the expansion of the scope to include other orphanages, as at least, 60% of the orphanages in my community need to have a library. She intends to collaborate and partner with other people and organisations to achieve the bigger picture and her goal.

Lola, concludes that “It is truly touching and fulfilling seeing the orphans exhibiting a passion to read and ready to take up their destiny in their own hands” She adds that “personally, I have learnt, explored, shared and innovated through the knowledge I acquired on the INELI-SSAf program and these have transformed me into an Innovative Librarian empowered with the tools of best practices to serve the information needs of my community towards enriching their lives”.   Kudos Lola, and we wish you great success in your bid.


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Fatima takes library and Information services to market women in Lusaka

A large number of women are found in market places in Chilenje, Soweto, Munyaula and Mtendere in Lusaka. Many of them are literate enough to count money and read what is written on packs of the products they sell. These women spend all day selling their wares in markets and have no time to visit a library to learn new things, browse through books or keep up with the knowledge in any field. Life-long learning has been recognized as a critical concept that helps to drive sustainable development in the 21st century. Also, everyone needs to keep on learning in order to understand and participate in social discourses that shape communities and learning.

Fatima has been working at the Lusaka Public Library where the library has always been open to all and she felt that anyone that needed the services of the library could go in since there are no barriers to usage of the library. However, when she enrolled on the INELI-SSAf training program and she went through the UN Sustainable Development Goals module, it dawned on her that all of the Goals cannot be achieved if any part of the community was left behind. The training also gave her the knowledge of what to do and the courage and passion to take library and information services out of the four walls of the library building. She chose the market women in Chilenje, Soweto, Munyaula and Mtendere because the markets fell within her community and Libraries are needed to enable market women to continue learning informally.

Fatima discussed this idea with her boss who got excited about it. She sought permission from her boss and the authorities of the market associations to go into the markets to promote reading. She put together a team of other Library staff and they selected easy to read, colourful information resources in health, financial management, cookery, building self-esteem and other areas and went into the markets with the resources. At each of the markets they visited, they first set up a reading corner and then invited the women to go and find out more information in the areas that interested them.

A total of four (4) library visits were made in February 2020 before COVID-19 spread to Zambia after which such meetings were no more allowed. With the four visits, a total of three hundred and twenty (320) market women were reached with information resources and talks on various health, hygiene and healthy eating tips and also on why lifelong learning is important.

The women were excited to have the information resources from the library available to them at their doorstep because the nature of their work made it difficult for them to go to the library. They also benefitted from and enjoyed the talks offered. This outreach service to the market women assisted them to improve their knowledge on health-related matters. It also boosted their self-esteem.

Fatima was really elated when she said that, “the training I received from INELI-SSAf emboldened me to promote lifelong learning and build the skills of these market women who had no idea before then, how they were going to balance their daily work with learning to improve their lives. I have inner joy for what I have been able to do for these women”.

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Antonetta leads Advocacy and Partnership for reading to improve school grades among school children in Bulawayo

Achieving good results in the social service sector for some time now requires advocacy and partnerships. It has been found that government authorities alone cannot do everything. Government and stakeholders now work together to offer services and this is also common in libraries. The Bulawayo Public Library Service in Zimbabwe has been supported by the local authorities and supervising ministry to offer effective service to the public including children. It however did not have a strong link with schools and so this brought about low patronage of the libraries resulting in low access to library materials. The challenge of poor reading habits as a result of lack of and access to reading books needed to be tackled.

Branch libraries are sparsely situated in the high-density suburbs and some suburbs are a distance away from thedesignated library. In Bulawayo, children cannot attain library membership status on their own because they are minors but they could come into the library without their parents/guardians or school teachers to read.Thismeans that some children could not visit the library and those who did, could not borrow books to take home. It was also a fact that these children lacked reading materials during reading lessons as confirmed by the schools prior to the implementation of the Inspiring Readers (IR) programme. It was also observed that when the children visited the library, they copied short stories from library books into their notebooks to read at home and during reading lessons at school. This clearly showed their zeal to read and the gap that libraries had to fill in terms of access to reading materials for them.Although some children visited the libraries, there were no strong relationships between the schools and libraries.

The challenge at hand was going to be tackled by the Inspiring Readers (IR) School Project of the library, that needed someone who will justify the project to local authorities and the relevant ministry that governs schools that were intended to participate in the project. Antonetta, who has been a public librarian for over thirty years at the Bulawayo Public Library and had done much training to be considered a professional, lacked the zeal and vigor to stand and advocate for the development of libraries and so she did not offer any assistance.

The aim of the Inspiring Readers (IR) School Project was to increase interaction with reading materials among pupils in both local languages and English; develop the confidence and participation of pupils in class through the use of reading materials and the development of a reading habit ; enable teachers to have the skills, knowledge and confidence to support children in reading and learning, head-teachers to increase opportunities for children and teachers to use the book box in the school day, librarians to develop skills in running outreach services and supporting teachers’ professional development and promoting reading and access to learning.


It was at this time that Antonetta was selected to undergo training of INELI-SSAf on innovative library services. With the training Antonetta received from INELI-SSAf, she worked with three institutions – local authorities, relevant ministry and the schools, that needed to be involved in the project so that each will know the critical role each partner was going to play and what was to be done. She has trained other library staff to manage change and how to carry out advocacy and seek partnerships to help bring the change through the IR project.  

The project has established 5 hub libraries, that connect to 25 schools. The project enables children have access to books and interact more with them, while teachers have become more useful during reading lessons. Teachers have also been trained to manage the mini libraries at their schools so that all children have access to reading materials during and after school. These have strengthened the relationship between the library and the schools. As part of the project, Book Aid International donated 28,750 books to the libraries connected to the schools, 1,150 books per school; and 100 locally produced books added to create a mini school library. A donor donated a book cupboard and 2 boxes to carry books for each school and another donor funded the training of librarians and teachers. The City of Bulawayo also provided dedicated library staff to support the project.

The outcome of the project is that the schools involved reported a high pass rate in examinations; children’s membership in the library has risen from 756 to 2,175 comprising 1,268 girls and 907 boys (290% increase). The user numbers in the project libraries is 41,942 boys and 44,595 girls – a total of 86,537 children. Efforts are being put in place to increase the book stock.

The project is sustainable and this is evident in the fact that most of the schools have taken the initiative to mobilize resources to increase their book stock. Some of the schools havealso re-arranged their time tables to visit the public libraries close to them, whilst some have renovated some rooms in the schools to house the library.

Antonetta, with excitement, says that “Personally, before joining INELI -SSAf, I did not think I needed advocacy and partnership skills for my work as a librarian. I did not also know the importance of public libraries and librarianship in fostering development through SDGs. INELI -SSAf changed my attitude enabling me to play a leading role in the Inspiring Readers (IR) School Project and Book Aid International partnership and in a number of other partnerships particularly in establishing innovative library services. INELI- SSAf has taught me how to make libraries visible in the achievement of the UN SDGs especially as pertains to SDG 4 through to SDG 17. I am over the roof with excitement about the confidence and skills I had to engage local authorities, relevant ministry and stakeholders to also push through the Inspiring Readers (IR) School Project which has become a huge success. I now have the audacity to approach and influence management to adopt change. As a librarian in the public library, I now engage the community to identify gaps in information services. INELI-SSAf has changed my perspective of who I am and what I could do or achieve as a public librarian. I will remain visible as the face of public libraries in Bulawayo and as a librarian who advocates for development of public libraries”

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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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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
$20,777 raised of $50,000 goal
247 donations
$29,223 to go
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