IFLA is celebrating Africa Day 2020, highlighting the contribution that Africa’s libraries make to the continent’s development, as well as highlighting the ideas, resources and insights available on the IFLA website thanks to the work of our African members. 

57 years ago, the Organisation for African Unity – the forerunner of today’s African Union – was created, marking a new drive to promote peace, integration and a truly African approach to the continent’s future.

This desire to work together to find ways forwards that truly reflect the strengths and needs of Africa is as strong as ever today, not least in the library field, whose role in promoting literacy, participation and development will be essential.

Increasingly, too, major continental initiatives provide opportunities for libraries, from the 2063 Agenda to the Continental Free Trade Agreement which will address copyright in its next round – a key issue for libraries, given that much legislation on the continent is outdated and does not allow for cross-border cooperation.

As part of IFLA’s Strategy 2019-24, there is therefore a new emphasis on supporting work at the regional level, and ensuring that it is possible to develop programmes of work and dialogue shaped around African priorities. We are looking forward to making a reality of this goal in the coming months and years.

In the meanwhile, here are six ideas for how to find out more about IFLA’s work in Africa:

1. Celebrate IFLA’s members in Africa: by being a part of IFLA, they are able to bring the benefits of membership to the African library field. IFLA has over 100 members in African countries with a combined population of over 1 billion people!

2. Read the speech given by IFLA Secretary-General Gerald Leitner at the most recent Round Table of Ministers Responsible for Public Libraries, organised by African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA), and held in Accra, Ghana, last year. The speech highlights the role that libraries can play in the efforts of African governments to achieve both the African Union 2063 Agenda, and the United Nations 2030 Agenda.

3. Find data about Africa’s libraries on IFLA’s Library Map of the World! For example, did you know that there are almost 111 000 libraries in Africa – that’s one for every 7 265 people for the countries for which we have data! Nigeria has the most academic libraries (815), and South Africa the most public libraries (1876). Kenya has the most overall, at nearly 50 000, including school libraries.

4. Read our SDG Stories from Africa – we have great examples of the difference libraries are making in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tunisia, . You can also find out more about the library fields in Ghana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe on our country pages.

5. Read about all the ideas submitted to IFLA’s Ideas Store from Africa! There are great suggestions on how to advocate more effectively, how to support the development of collections, how to work best together. Take a look – and submit your own! In addition, in our Global Vision report, you can see how African respondents viewed the strengths and opportunities of libraries in the biggest survey ever organised by IFLA.

6. Check out the papers from the sessions run by IFLA’s Africa Section over the past few years at the World Library and Information Congress in the IFLA Library. You can find out more on the Africa Section webpages, including how to sign up to the mailing list.

7. Get involved in the second 2020 edition of #1Lib1Ref, the campaign organised every year by the Wikimedia Foundation to work with librarians, drawing on their skills to make Wikipedia a more reliable, representative source of free information – check our social media for more.

Find out about the work of IFLA’s Africa Section.