Changing lives through information for development: an exploration of African digital library initiatives in the 21st century

MBAMBO-THATA, Buhle (2014) Changing lives through information for development: an exploration of African digital library initiatives in the 21st century. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2014 - Lyon - Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge in Session 189 - Access to Information Network - Africa (ATINA) Special Interest Group. In: IFLA WLIC 2014, 16-22 August 2014, Lyon, France.

Bookmark or cite this item: http://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1022
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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.

Abstract

Changing lives through information for development: an exploration of African digital library initiatives in the 21st century

The role of information in development is well discussed in the literature. This paper surveys digital initiatives that have transformed their communities Africa. The initiatives have demonstrated that the Africa library communities are increasingly serving their citizens with relevant cutting edge services that locate information as a critical element for development Africa stands poised for new and exciting growth. Seven of the world’s fastest growing economies are countries in Africa. Africa has a young population, most of them born in the digital age. Libraries that serve youthful populations and growing economies must efficiently respond to the needs of fast paced and digitally savvy populations, as well as demands of growing economies. The infrastructure for developing efficient digital library services has been facilitated by developments in both wireless and fibre technology. There has been growth in digital library initiatives in both academic and public libraries. Increase in the number of institutional repositories, other open scholarship initiatives and social media ensure relevant African content in digital spaces. The emergence of Africa wide library formations like the Conference of African National Librarians, the Africa Public Library network and the African Library and Information Association (AfLIA) presents an opportunity for coordinated development of library services that respond to the demands of youthful populations in fast growing economies. This paper highlights some of the developments in African libraries as they position themselves to serve their populations in the digital age. It demonstrates that African libraries remain relevant and critical to development on the continent.

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