In 2014/15 the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) worked with local and international partners to pilot a major capacity building initiative involving 30 librarians from 29 public libraries that currently provide public access to computers and the internet in Ghana.
The training built librarians’ capacity to use digital technology effectively, and to create new public library services that use digital technology to benefit communities. It also built librarians’ training skills and confidence to enable them to offer computer and internet training in their communities.
In addition, EIFL-PLIP built communications and leadership skills of heads of regional public libraries and office-bearers in the Ghana Library Authority.
Based on the success of the pilot capacity building initiative in Ghana, EIFL has launched similar initiatives in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.
EIFL’S TRAINING PARTNERS
EIFL’s main partner in this initiative is the Ghana Library Authority (GhLA - formerly known as the Ghana Library Association), the body responsible for establishing, overseeing and maintaining public libraries in Ghana. The Ghana public library network comprises 10 regional public libraries and 53 district public libraries.
WHAT THE TRAINING COVERED
The curriculum comprises four modules:
Module 1: Advanced information and communication technology (ICT) skills for public librarians.
Module 2: Internet searching and e-resources.
Module 3: Developing and managing new public library services, including community needs assessment, service design, writing fundraising proposals, implementation of new services and impact assessment.
Module 4: Communications and advocacy for new services.
Training was broken into three sessions. Gaps of at least a month between training sessions enabled librarians to return to their libraries and practice their new skills in their daily work.
June to November 2014.
IMPACT OF THE TRAINING
Impact assessment conducted four to six weeks after the training found that -
Over 90% of learners reported feeling more skilled and confident in using ICT in their daily library work, and in integrating ICT into new library services to benefit communities.
The number of librarians offering ICT training to community members at their libraries had increased by 28%.
58% of trainees said they had drafted project proposals for new library services and submitted them to potential donors for funding.
69% of trainees said they had launched new ICT-based services: among these are 13 libraries that have started basic computer courses for children attending schools that do not have sufficient computers to meet pupils’ needs; five are teaching adults to use computers and the internet; three have introduced research services using the internet to find specialist information requested by community members.
“We have started an online research department to help speed up research requested by library users. We compile findings of the research into pamphlets,” said Maxwell Owusu, librarian at Cape Coast Central Library.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR EIFL’S GHANA CAPACITY BUILDING INITIATIVE
EIFL is working with GhLA to identify gaps in public librarians’ knowledge and skills; to develop the training curriculum further to meet advanced skills needs, and to strengthen in-country training capacity for continued professional development of public librarians in Ghana.
To create opportunities for trainees to practise grant writing and advocacy skills learnt during the training programme, EIFL invited public librarians who completed the EIFL-PLIP training to apply for funding to initiate new community development services, using ICT. Grants will be awarded in 2016 on a matching funds basis (applicants must raise 50% of the cost of their services from local sources).
FIND OUT MORE
The Ghana training was EIFL’s first major national capacity building initiative for public librarians in Africa. Based on the success of the pilot programme in Ghana, EIFL has launched similar initiatives in Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia.
Read more about EIFL Africa capacity building initiative.
Read ‘Public librarians in Africa ready for action after training’ (EIFL-PLIP Impact Manager Ugne Lipeikaite’s blog about EIFL’s Africa capacity building initiative and its outcomes).