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Findings of ground breaking research into perceptions of public libraries in six countries in Africa show that most people associate public libraries with traditional book lending and reference services rather than technical innovation and provision of community development services.
At the same time, most people believe that public libraries can make a difference in vital development areas, including health, employment, agriculture and e-governance. They also believe that public libraries need and deserve more funding.
EIFL’s Public Library Innovation Programme (PLIP) commissioned the study to deepen understanding of the status and role of public libraries in Africa, and of the vision, aspirations and expectations of the general public, librarians and national and local government officials. The study was conducted by the social research company, TNS RMS East Africa Ltd., in Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
Findings are that in all six countries, most public libraries are small and under resourced. All stakeholders – from national and local government to the level of library users and non-users – are concerned about the many challenges that libraries and librarians face.
A particular concern is lack of technology: 54% of local government officials and 38% of library users said libraries did not have enough computers. An overwhelming majority of librarians (89%) said their priority need was additional funding for equipment, especially computers, TV, scanners, and photocopiers. Their second concern was space and seating to enhance users’ comfort.
PLIP will use the findings to empower librarians and others to advocate for support for public libraries, so that they can meet expectations and realize their full potential to contribute to community development.
Read more here.