Seychelles at African Public Libraries Summit 2012


PS Rose

Ms Rose and Mrs Robert were in South Africa representing the Seychelles Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

The focus of the summit were mainly about how public libraries can serve the community at large, and also their use of information and communications technology.

Interventions by speakers promoted the use of their libraries as not just research and learning amenities, but also promoting them as health and safety facilities among others as well as promoting the use of computers.

Public libraries were described as one-stop shops serving as communication points to disseminate information across rural areas.

However, while progress has been made to advance and expand how public libraries in Africa contribute to development priorities, speakers at the summit pointed out five significant interconnected challenges that must be addressed. These are lack of funding, absence of professional development and training, physical resource limitations and the need for digital technology.

Parallel discussions on issues such as policy and decision makers, how best to use public libraries, giving prominence to, and advocating public libraries to higher levels, and also how best to use public libraries as a changing agent in the lives of ordinary people were also points for debate.

The outcome of the summit for the Seychelles public library is that the country should make optimum use of its facilities and of technological services such as online courses.
The need exists to work more on the digital services and to enlarge the scope of services provided for example at old people’s homes, orphanages and the prison.

It has also been an eye opener on how to implement low-budget programmes and activities.

Two positive outcomes for Seychelles from this South African Summit were the opportunity to establish new contacts, and also after the several fruitful deliberations, local policy makers can now work towards the conception and implementation of a National Library Policy so as to put our public library at the forefront of public services bringing communities together.

Present at the summit, organised mainly by the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and sponsored mainly by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, were 132 delegates from all over Africa representing 53 countries, sponsors, representatives of other libraries, including representatives from the Centre for Reading and Cultural Activities (CLAC) and IFLA among others.