Gambia National Library to Be Digitalised

Computing

The director general of the Gambia National Library Service Authority (GNLSA) has on Tuesday informed lawmakers of the joint session of the Public Accounts and Public Enterprises Committees (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly that efforts are on track for the digitalisation of the archival materials of the Library.

Tabling the institution's activity report for the year ended 2013, before the respective committees, which is expected to be scrutinised today, Abdou Wally-Mbye, the director general of the GNLSA, said some of his staff have already undergone the training programme designed to equip them with the requisite skills needed for the realisation and sustainability of a digital library.

He disclosed that the training was organised by the British Library in collaboration with the National Centre for Arts and Culture in late 2013. "It was timely as we are currently engaged in digitalising our National collection with a view to preserving it for the upcoming generation," he added.

Wally-Mbye further informed lawmakers that the GNLSA is a semi-autonomous body public institution under the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, which was established by an Authority in 2009, by an Act of the National Assembly. The body seeks to provide a reliable, accessible and world-class library and information services geared towards transforming The Gambia into an enlightened and knowledge based society.

"In addition to a total of 84 new sets of documents received on legal deposit, our acquisitions section acquired 14,117 books this year. The great majority were books donated both for our own use and distribution to schools across the country," he added.

The GNLSA boss spoke about the importance of libraries, noting that people go to the library to study or even work on projects because of it's conducive nature, which allows face-to-face collaboration and other rare opportunities. He thus described a library as an institution that is dedicated to preserving our national memory and heritage.

Wally-Mbye further informed that the National Library used to be on high demand in recent times particularly when the University of The Gambia came. However, when the university established its own library, he said, the demand began to lower as a result of the highly and well equipped nature of the university's own.

He also cited how easy research on the internet impacted the use of libraries particularly at school levels. Despite this trend, he assured that efforts have been stepped up to engage teachers particularly at senior secondary schools' level to encourage students to be using libraries for home-works and other relevant assignments.

DG Wally-Mbye used the opportunity to dilate on the history of libraries, pointing out that over the past centuries, the emergence of new technologies has led people to predict the future or demise of memory institutions such as libraries, museums and archives. These prediction, he said, can be traced from the time of Plato, when the ancient Greek philosopher saw the advent of paper-making as heralding. Some, he said, such as the British social scientist, who in his newspaper article predicted the demise of libraries, which is predicted to be replaced by computers.

Source: The Daily Observer 21 January 2015