The Ghana Library Authority (GhLA) says its effort to help promote the reading habit among Ghanaians, especially the youth, is yielding the desired results.
According to the authority, the number of people who visited its 61 libraries across the country increased to 702,644 in 2018, which is a 64.13 per cent increase, as compared to the 428,114 visitors recorded in the previous year.
Its membership base, which allows subscribers to borrow books from the libraries, also rose by 30 per cent in the last year, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the authority, Mr Hayford Siaw, made this known to the Daily Graphic in Accra last Thursday.
He said the success chalked up was as a result of the various community outreach programmes and reading campaigns initiated by the authority after his administration took office in January last year.
“For the past one year, we have done a number of outreach programmes for the people to know where the libraries are located, and have also partnered with some media houses to promote the reading culture among students.
These measures introduced by the authority are yielding the desired results,” he said.
Depleting book stock
Mr Siaw, however, expressed worry over the GhLA’s depleting book stock following the scrapping of the authority’s book fund, and said it currently had 531,865 books on its shelves, a drop in the one million books it had on its shelves in 1980.
“In 1980, we had 1,006,720 books on our shelves but with the scrapping of our book fund, we have not been able to purchase books, reducing our books stock to 531,865 books.
“So, our strategy now is to form a partnership with corporate organisations in order to complement the government's effort, to resource libraries in the country,” the CEO added.
Beyond working at increasing its books stock, Mr Siaw said the authority would this year focus on expanding in the communities across the country in order to improve accessibility to libraries for the public.
He said that had become necessary following a recent study which identified that only two per cent of Ghanaian children in Class Two could read and understand what they read.
Mr Siaw also announced that with the support of other organisations, the GhLA would construct 15 new libraries in the country next year.
“Newmont Ghana alone as part of its corporate social responsibility will sponsor the construction of two of these libraries,” he said.
The GhLA, formerly Ghana Library Board, is the only institution mandated to establish, equip, manage and maintain public libraries in Ghana.
As part of its work, it also prepares guidelines for the establishment of public, community and school libraries. Currently, it has 61 libraries across the 10 regions.
It was established in 1950 from a £1,000 contribution donated by the late Rt Rev. John Orfeur Aglionby, the then Anglican Bishop of Accra.