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African Librarianship in the 21st Century

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Information and knowledge are critical and strategic resources in human development. The rural and urban poor in Africa require access to appropriate information to fight poverty, deprivation and illiteracy. This is in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This paper examines the activities of libraries towards achieving these goals. It recognizes that African Librarianship is faced with challenges that are both external and internal. Externally, it is faced with the challenges of general backwardness of Africa – high illiteracy level, poor economic conditions, political instability, corruption, lack of government supports; and internally, with imported ideologies. The paper discusses the fundamental challenges of the profession and proposes two ideals for Africa’s information management – providing access to relevant information to all in all formats; and harnessing Africa’s rich cultural heritage in all forms and integrating them to the Global Information Infrastructures (GII). The paper recommends a complete reorientation of library development strategies which will include community based approaches; government involvement and aid donors to support development.


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