“I am a librarian, and I have no shame for that” Cameroonian librarian
After two days of meetings in Yaoundé, today the last BSLA workshop kicked off with a focus on libraries and development, Cameroon Vision 2035, and stakeholder relations. Access to information is a crucial issue here, affecting everything from compliance with copyright to free and fair elections. Should you allow students to copy an entire book, if they have no other way of accessing the information? Or should libraries comply strictly with a law authored in the absence of the library’s voice and influence? And for citizens to be informed voters, they need to have access to information about issues affecting their country and information about candidates. Libraries could be a good place for that.
Perhaps my one complaint about workshops here is the amount of protocol to be observed, which can interfere with the business of getting on with it. Workshops never begin on time, and are are interrupted by opening ceremonies, and official photographs (I look hideous in all of them). The one positive note is that the opening ceremony is when the media attend the workshop (see my last post about media contact being easy). Today we gave interviews to national TV (the independent station rather than government owned service) and radio for broadcast on this evening’s news.
The library association has a lot to be proud of. They have become confident, effective advocates both to the Ministry of Arts and culture, and their colleagues. They have a long way to go to realise the kind of libraries and information services that the country needs, but they have built a platform to move ahead democratically, bringing stakeholders with them.
Tomorrow, Nairobi, then Tuesday it begins again with the final meetings in Botswana.