“Ghanaians will be trooping into our libraries!”
For many years the shelves of libraries in Ghana have been stocked with only a few out of date books. People across Ghana had few opportunities to discover books and begin to read – but that is changing.
Hayford Siaw is the new Executive Director of the Ghana Library Authority. Appointed in December 2017, it is his job to reinvigorate a neglected service. As a former director of Street Library he has a passion for ensuring that everyone has access to the books that will change their lives.
Thanks to supporters like you, we will soon provide a shipment of more than 45,000 much needed brand new books to Ghana. We asked Hayford to tell us about what these brand new books mean to the service he leads.
Can you tell us about the challenges you face?
For the past 38 years, we have experienced a reduction of our book stock of over 50%. This has affected patronage because most people cannot find the materials they look for in the libraries.
A recent survey also revealed that only 2% of Ghanaian children in Grade 2 were able to read fluently and also understood what they read. We are in a position to support diverse groups however we must invest more in appropriate resources, particularly for children.
So there are some real challenges around literacy. How do you think the library can help?
Building a reading lifestyle at young age is so critical to the success of young people both in an out of school and we recognise our role in advancing this for Ghanaian children.
There is no better way to create that reading lifestyle than investing in books that help these children and many others around the country. This is why we see our strategic partnership with Book Aid International as a good step in addressing literacy challenges.
Across the country, we experience a correlation between new books and library membership. With our rebirth process and the new partnership with Book Aid International we have no doubt that Ghanaians will be trooping into our libraries to access the new books thanks to the generous supporters of Book Aid International.
What is your hope for the future?
We operate 60 libraries around all the ten regions of Ghana, with additional libraries opening in 2019. Within the next 5 years, we look forward to establishing libraries across all the 254 districts and municipalities of Ghana. This will be getting us closer to achieving coverage for the majority of the adults and young people.
2019 is to the Year of Reading and our partnership with Book Aid International has come at the right time in the history of our service. We are positioning ourselves to maximise our contribution to the development of Ghana by connecting Ghanaians to knowledge.
Our ability to be successful is deeply connected to partnerships and we cherish what we have achieved with Book Aid International.
Hayford has already set up a new system within the service to process books and is implementing new initiatives with NGOs from around the world that will breathe new life into the service, and we are so pleased to be a part of this dynamic library service’s future.
We would like to thank all of our supporters, and particularly players of People’s Postcode Lottery, for making it possible for us to support readers across Ghana, sending the books that inspiring leaders like Hayford need to make their vision into reality.