BSLA Senegal 2018

Senegalese librarians build capacity and a stronger professional association with Building Strong Library Associations (BSLA) funded project.

What were your goals?

Association Sénégalaise des Bibliothécaires, Archivistes et Documentalistes (ASBAD) mainly aimed at three objectives through this project:

  1. Build capacity of current and emerging leaders in Senegalese library sector on governance and management of library association.
  2. Sensitize and train members of the Association on the role and impact of librarian profession in society and national development through cascade workshops in Association branches, interest groups and other frameworks of commitment.
  3. Develop a strong and sustainable professional association in Senegal.

The national workshop was opened to current and emerging library sector leaders from Mali, Guinea Bissau and Ivory Coast.

How did you plan to make this happen?

The program of the project was spread over four workshops between October 2017 and February 2018. Three zonal workshops were organized at the level of the regional sections throughout the national territory. A national workshop open to the sister associations of the countries of the sub-region came to close this series of training.

Each workshop was the subject of Terms of Reference to establish the roadmap. The selection of participants was based on a call for applications with criteria established at the start.

The national documentary institutions, the institutional members of the Association and the partners have always been invited to the official ceremonies of the various workshops.

Each workshop was facilitated by five trainers. The participatory approach was favored. For the animation of the zonal workshops the experts of the libraries (Director and heads of institutions) at the local level were involved.

Concerning the national workshop, the Chair of IFLA's Africa Section came to strengthen the trainers' body as an international expert.

With a well-established communication plan, the workshops were mostly covered by the national press. The various communication and information channels of the Association have been used to support all the actions of the process.

How did it work?

Three zonal workshops of two days each in different parts of the country with members of the Association at the base were organized.  A critical mass of colleagues who are able to carry the projects of the association and its animation were selected.

62 librarians, old and new members of the Association were trained. The participants were effectively sensitized on the importance of having a strong library sector, the role and impact of the librarian professions in society and in national development, the importance of collecting data on the library sector. They were trained also in data mining, marketing techniques, lobbying and advocacy on behalf of the library sector.

The program wrapped up with a 3-day national workshop that brought current leaders of the association together with leaders of student library associations, interest groups leaders, and other responsible persons of sections and frameworks of commitment such as Corps of volunteers. It was open also to professional groups outside the Association and colleagues holding project in favor of the community. The selection was made on the basis of a call for applications supplemented by invitations to officials and representatives of the sister associations of the sub region (Mali, Guinea Bissau and Ivory Coast).

The workshop addressed the themes of the 6 modules of the IFLA BSLA Program to build a strong library association. In addition sessions on intergenerational conversation, association culture, developing action plans was in the program. Major IFLA projects and involvements have been presented also like library and UN Agenda 2030, IFLA- IAP, IGVP, LMOW, DA2I.

The interactive sessions during all the workshops facilitated a collective brainstorming that produced excellent lines of work for the association and for the regional branches.

At the end of the process, a total of 76 colleagues were trained during these four workshops. All of them committed at the completion of the workshops to be more active in engagement, awareness and action. The first notable results are the renewed interest in the Association, including new applications for membership from different categories of colleagues and the rush toward our virtual and physical information points.

11 training experts were mobilized in the process of the 4 workshops. These include the former Director of the IFLA Francophone Center, three university library directors, two university professors in library science, and current and past Association officials who have participated in at least two international BSLA workshops and the chair of IFLA Africa Section, as international expert guest.

How did you use communications during the project?

To conduct the process adequately and to communicate efficiently, a communication plan was drafted using the Association digital tools and channels (Newsletter, listserv, Facebook page, Twitter profile, Instagram), classical media TV and Newspaper which cover activities, and also shows TV. Many official letters was sent to different stakeholders (Policy makers, institutional members of the Association, partners) etc.

A dynamic digital policy documents all the process based on our digital identity asbadsn, from call for application to the promotion of the events and follow- up of activities.

Links to workshop albums:

What did you learn in the process?

The series of workshops has sparked renewed interest around the Association; interactive discussions have also deconstructed the false image that many colleagues had of the Association.

Such workshops give self-confidence to participants and facilitate their commitment to action on behalf of the community.

The relevance of the participatory approach adopted in the implementation of the program which had facilitated during the process a better understanding between stakeholders in the library sector. The program was an effective way to engage the different institutional and associative actors.

The importance of having decentralized zonal workshops was valuable; it has awakened the feeling of belonging to the same professional community of several colleagues who participated.

Establishing transparent selection criteria from the outset helped to avoid frustrations and challenges in the selection of participants

The challenges of driving such type of program alongside institutional and professional commitments of board members.

Difficulties to adapt the funding model to the realities of the field and the program's funding chapters.

It appears the need to constantly re-adapt the communication policy of the Association by taking into account some parameters as the specificities of the young target.

The openness to sister associations in neighboring countries facilitates the implementation of sub-regional activities.

What are your next steps?

  • Leverage the momentum of engagement of participants from different workshops to have a strong voice around a shared vision.
  • Build a dynamic framework based on the energy that has emerged from the gathering of current and potential leaders of the library sector in Senegal and the sub-region.
  • Implement a synergy of action based on the cohorts of trained colleagues, the institutions involved, the committed partners and the authorities that accompanied the process of workshops.
  • Run a project to a collect and exploit library sector data in Senegal and in the Francophone sub-Saharan region.
  • Engage trained colleagues as a force of contribution and proposition to conduct advocacy campaigns internal and external to the Association.
  • Create a real craze around professional values and go to the development of codes of ethics and deontology of the profession at national level.
  • Implement sectoral animation programs at the branches level of the Association and other remote locations in the country.
  • Rely on the strength that comes from the interactivity of young professionals and experienced professionals around a strong leadership to carry out large-scale actions at zonal, national and sub regional levels.
  • Meet with the national authorities in charge of the sector on the implementation and follow up of conclusions and orientations issued by the workshops.