Need for Alternative Funding for Libraries: Prof Mavodza

The 52nd Zimbabwe Library Association (ZimLA) conference underway in Mutare got a boost from Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and Manicaland Provincial Affairs representatives. Running under the theme “Libraries in Transition: Emerging Trends and Technologies”, the conference has created a platform to iron out issues affecting growth of library and information institution in Zimbabwe.  

The keynote address by Professor Judith Mavodza from United Arab Emirates accentuate on the need for library and information professionals to look for alternative funding sources for a sustainable service provision. She noted that information professional should re-assess services they are providing in the wake of emerging trends and technologies to ensure they are within the expectations of our users.

Prof Mavodza noted the impact of library spaces which are technologically-enhanced. She said that, “These spaces are becoming more active virtually, and creating more individual user experiences.” Indeed the emerging trends and technologies have transformed the entire library and information fraternity increasingly forcing librarians to ask for more funding. Prof Mavodza said Librarians should build advocacy skills that will enable them to seek alternative funding sources. She said there are private international funders such as the Elsevier Foundation’s Innovative Libraries in Developing Countries program that awards grants to libraries for improving access to and use of scientific, technological and medical information, and the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation Global Libraries program to expand technology access in public libraries.

The desire to fulfill the transition in libraries hinges around sustainable funding for libraries in Zimbabwe. Prof Mavonda said the current climate of extreme budget cuts can be circumvented through shifting away from local ILS models to a cloud-based service and many other strategies that strengthen consortia involvement in library work.

The conference has shown the significance of the library association with a record attendance of a hundred plus delegates from local and regional library and information professionals.