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Former MP proposes establishment of national library

BY: Joshua Bediako Koomson
• Prof. John Ahetor (inset), a lecturer at the Pentecost University, launching the book    picture by PATRICK DICKSON
• Prof. John Ahetor (inset), a lecturer at the Pentecost University, launching the book picture by PATRICK DICKSON

A former Member of Parliament (MP), Mr Kosi Kedem, is calling for the establishment of a national library, contending that its absence has created a huge gap in the library and information system in the country.

“It facilitates and promotes training, innovation and research into library and information science,” he stated.

“At the mention of a national library, all other libraries must bow.

 It is the mother of all libraries, a pivot around which other libraries revolve.

It is the interface between local libraries and international libraries,” the former MP for Hohoe South added.

At the launch of his 13th book - The National Library Concept and Development in Ghana - last Tuesday in Accra, Mr Kedem explained that the national library was the official repository of printed work, the general access library, information bibliographical centre and the centre of coordination, planning and simulation of the entire library system of the nation.

He said using information and communications technology (ICT), the national library should be able to function as a one-stop shop or a database for searching and accessing the total information resources held in the country’s libraries just by the click of a button.

The former lawmaker expressed concern that while information was abundant in the country, it was elusive and not easily accessible because of how it had been scattered, uncoordinated, unpackaged and not well documented, due to the absence of a national library.

Library scenario

Mr Kedem stressed that the absence of a national library did not speak well of the country, which in the 1950s and 1960s inspired and led the way in library development in sub-Saharan Africa.

What pertains in the country now has created isolated independent libraries which hardly ‘talked or interacted with each other.’

He said every library protected its narrow turf or sphere of influence and did its own thing. “There is little or no coordination and that is quite a disorderly and disorientated library scenario,” he pointed out.

Book review

The National Library Concept and Development in Ghana, is presented in four chapters, with the introductory chapter stressing why the country deserves a national library.

The second chapter gives an overview of selected national libraries from developed and developing countries to serve as guidelines for the establishment of a national library in Ghana.

For each national library, the author presents its historical origin, objectives and functions; administrative and organisational structure, legal deposit and library services.

Chapter three situates the national library concept and library development in Ghana in context, with a historical overview of how libraries developed in the country, citing important personalities and major donations.

In the concluding chapter, Mr Kedem made comments about the lack of the passage of the Library Services Bill which, according to him, was submitted to Parliament in 2015.

He noted that the tortuous passage of that bill was the biggest challenge to the establishment of the national library.

President of GLA

The President of the Ghana Library Association (GLA), Mr Samuel Bentil Aggrey, commended Mr Kedem for capturing the valuable work on the national library into a book which he said was going to serve many purposes.

He said the book gave hope and assurance that the concept of a national library was still relevant and would soon materialise.

Mr Aggrey said the association was not happy with the absence of the national library which could have performed a very vital role as an apex body for libraries in the country.