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The African Library Summit 2013

Dr Buhle Mbamb-Thata   /   /  Comments: 0

The second African Library Summit was held from 2-5 July 2013 in the Senate Hall of the University of South Africa, Pretoria.  The theme of the Summit was The Horizon and Beyond and the intent was to address issues amongst librarians of the African continent to ensure the leadership capacity in the 21st century for the future growth, production and accessibility of information on the African continent. 

The opening ceremony of the second African Library Summit was a colourful event as participants of the 31 African countries attending the Summit paraded their flags. They came from as near as Zimbabwe and Botswana and as far as Egypt, Benin and the Seychelles. Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone Africa were all represented.

The Summit was hosted by the Library of the University of South Africa (Unisa) and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Africa Section, IFLA Regional Office for Africa.

Official Opening of the African Library Summit
2013 by Prof MS Makhanya

Prof RM Phakeng, Vice Principal: Research and Innovation at the University of South Africa welcomed all delegates and Ms J Nicholson, IFLA Secretary General, delivered the opening address.  This was followed by an address delivered by Prof MS Makanya, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of South Africa.

The first African Library Summit was held in May 2011 in South Africa and this second Summit was to build on the foundation of 2011.  Participants consisted of African library and information service (LIS) policy-makers, LIS leaders and senior management, senior LIS educators and researchers. It included national librarians, academic and research librarians, special librarians and public librarians as well as selected Young Emerging Library Leaders in Africa.

The focus of the programme was on leadership, innovation and collaboration with the following major objectives, problems and developments in mind:

  • To establish leadership development actions for the respective library types
  • To identify programmes for leadership development
  • To locate African library leadership development in the Digital Age

The programme was divided into plenary sessions, panel discussions and in-depth drilldown sessions.  On Day 2, a World Café Workshop was held, consisting of ten groups that included all delegates, to discuss aspects of leadership development. There were also seven practical Pre-Summit Workshops held on 2 July 2013.

Posters presenters and exhibitors had opportunities to engage delegates during special sessions set aside for them as well as during the lunch hours.

There was plenty of time for networking and socialising during the Gala Dinner, buffet dinner and the cocktail function in the foyer of the Senate Hall during the closing event.

The hard work and determination of all delegates resulted in the launch of the African Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA); Public library networking in Africa; and the establishment of a Forum for National Libraries of Africa.

A generous donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as well as donations from the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), the Unisa Strategic Projects Coordinating Committee (SPCC), Sabinet Online Limited, OCLC, Springer, EBSCO Publishing and others made the Summit a possibility and a great success.

Dr Buhle Mbamb-Thata, Executive Director, Unisa Library.

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