(Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) president and AfLIA vice president, Mr. Mandla Ntombela at the just ended Zimbabwe Library Association (ZimLA) conference held in Gweru.)
Library associations should embrace and adopt International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and African Library and Information Association and Institution (AfLIA) initiated programmes to enable them to increase visibility, stakeholder engagement, and to lobby and advocate for the recognition of libraries in advancing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This was said by Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) president and AfLIA vice president, Mr. Mandla Ntombela at the just ended Zimbabwe Library Association (ZimLA) conference held in Gweru.
Addressing delegates at the conference, Mr. Ntombela spoke extensively of the IFLA Global Vision as a credible and rare opportunity that facilitates capacity building for the development and sustainability of the library communities.
The role of library associations is vital towards achieving the IFLA Global Vision and concerted efforts by associations’ leadership should prioritize embracing and implementing the initiatives that has long lasting benefit. The LIASA president said that such initiatives are essential to advance advocacy and lobbying efforts for the library communities for recognition and improving influence in solving community challenges.
AfLIA partnered with the Global Libraries (GL) Programme of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to roll out the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI) programme established to support the transformation of public libraries into engines of development and does this by supporting upcoming public librarians to develop innovative services for the benefit of their communities. Participants in the INELI initiative are expected to share the learning experience with other local librarians with the view of promoting learning and equip others with life changing skills to transform the public library network to step-up to the changing operating environment. Mrs. A. Madziwa from the Bulawayo Municipality Library system is a participant to the INELI initiative from Zimbabwe.
The Library and Information Association of Zambia president, Mrs. Velenasi Mwale Munsanje also spoke greatly of the INELI programme as an enabler that facilitate growth for the public library system through strengthening skills of local public librarians to better serve their communities under strenuous conditions characterized by limited funding and sound infrastructure.
Mr. Ntombela said that partnership with IFLA and AfLIA reposition the library association to achieve the “Africa we want”. The major thrust emphasized by Mr. Ntombela is that IFLA’s professional programmes provide sustainable platforms for initating advocacy for libraries in society, improve services for library users, provide equitable access to information and develop the library and information profession.
In light of attaining SDGs, Mr. Ntombela said that libraries are vital institutions that should actively promote the National development plans through dynamic services that transform livelihood. He therefore gave an interesting story of Jaka Joe Informal Settlement in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa that is involved in the recycling project and challenged other library communities to formulate strategies with SDGs attainment in mind.
“Library associations have a significant role to play in strengthening partnerships with IFLA and AfLIA through developing an effective action plan for strategic positioning on government agenda”, said the AfLIA vice president. He encouraged the library associations to increase lobbying and advocacy initiatives for the development of library and information services infrastructure to achieve a positive influence from government policy regarding LIS. “Library associations should represent libraries and librarianship to the larger society and continual stakeholder engagement should be a top priority that leads to the identifying of sources of local funding for projects”, he said.
The LIASA president implored with library association leaders to be proactive in increasing influence. He said, “Library associations and institutions should enlarge their territory or mission by protecting the future of LIS workers and library users of Africa and throughout the world by developing strategies that will make the sector looks smart and cool.”
The conference keynote address by AfLIA vice president and LIASA president clearly pronounced the role of library associations in developing strong and strategic partnerships that promote influence of the library communities. Several library associations were represented at the conference with representation from Botswana, South Africa and Zambia.
The conference ended on a high note with a report from ZimLA president, Mr. Lantern Fusire highlighting on key achievements accomplished and laying out the various initiatives that the association has planned for the coming year before an elective conference in 2018.