Assemblies, MPs asked to invest in libraries

The Ghana Library Authority (GhLA) is asking metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to use part of their common fund to establish public libraries.
It is also appealing to Members of Parliament (MPs) to consider building libraries in their constituencies.



That, the authority said, was to help the evenly spread of public libraries in the country and ensure that there was at least a library everywhere to boost literacy and improve the reading habits of pupils and students.

Year of books

The Executive Director of the GhLA, Mr Hayford Siaw, made the appeal in an interview in Accra as part of efforts to whip up interest in reading among Ghanaians as the GhLA designated 2022 as a ‘Year of Books.’

The year, which is on the theme: “Libraries as community anchors for transformation,” is to coincide with the selection of Accra as the designated World Book Capital in 2023.



Uneven distribution

Mr Siaw admitted that public libraries were not evenly distributed in the country, saying that was a worrying development.

He explained that libraries set up over the years had been driven by local community initiatives.


“I mean communities have to come together to set up libraries,” he explained and added that communities that did not have libraries meant that there had not been enough community mobilisation around the setting up of libraries.

He said that was why he felt that the assemblies and the MPs could intervene to ensure that there was at least a library or two in every assembly.

Mr Siaw said just as assemblies and MPs were building schools in their jurisdictions, they should equally invest in libraries to whip up interest in reading.

Commendable example



He commended the MP for the Effutu Constituency, Mr Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin, who single handedly constructed over 11 libraries in the Efutu Municipality, describing it as a “remarkable investment.”

He said the example set by the Effutu MP was worth emulating by all other MPs to ensure that pupils, students and, indeed, all other people within their constituencies had access to a library.

“Assuming every MP invests in a library, straight away it means there will be a spread of libraries throughout the country,” Mr Siaw stated.

Book fund

He announced that the GhLA would launch a GH¢1 million book fund this year to raise enough money to purchase locally published books to stock libraries in the country.

The Executive Director, therefore, appealed to institutions, organisations and individuals to support the fund to enable it to achieve its aim of complementing the foreign stories and text books with local ones.

Mr Siaw said he believed there were some local books with rich content such as “our values as Ghanaians, our culture and things peculiar to us as a people that our children need to imbibe as they grow.”

Asked whether the focus was to be on locally produced books or not, he responded that the authority was still open to the foreign published books, saying that the GhLA had a number of partners that supported it with books and expressed the hope that those supports would continue to flow in.

He said there had been consistent increase in the stocking of public libraries with books since 2017, adding that in 2016, with 61 public libraries, the book stock was 349,941, but from 2017, the figure kept increasing until it hit 1,190,576 books in November 2021.

COVID-19

Mr Siaw said although the GhLA faced a number of challenges just as all other institutions, the COVID-19 pandemic seriously affected the progress of the authority.

“We are not immune to the effects of the pandemic. I would have wished that I increase my library visits by two million. I would have wished that I received more stocks of books for the libraries,” he said.

He explained that some of the partners who supported the GhLA with books and other logistics were heavily affected by the pandemic, adding that some of them had even closed down while others were working remotely.

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