[Irtalk] Project MUSE - African Librarianship: A Relic, a Fallacy, or an Imperative?

Hilton Gibson hilton.gibson at gmail.com
Sat Jan 23 12:14:24 SAST 2016

African librarianship has its roots in the colonial era, with colonial
powers developing excellent library infrastructure with commensurate
services in anticipation of their protracted stay in Africa. However,
libraries were alien to African communities, which had a very strong oral
tradition and used such a tradition to share information and knowledge. The
“un-African” library infrastructure was challenged by some leading African
scholars, who argued that there has to be a system of librarianship that
delivers on African realities and imperatives. This paper interrogates the
need to transform the concept of African librarianship in search of a path
that addresses African imperatives; it also examines the need to separate
the relic in pursuit of reconceptualization. There is little doubt that
there is a need for, at the least, a hybrid—that is, incorporating the best
from the colonial era with that which is African, such as the oral
tradition—that would result in the transposition of concepts to create a
new, relevant, effective, and efficient form of librarianship—namely,
librarianship in Africa.

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