The Ghana Library Authority (GhLA), yesterday, launched a GH¢10 million endowment fund to support the effective running and growth of public libraries in the country.
Dubbed the “Public Library Endowment Fund”, the flagship project of the GhLA’s 70th anniversary, received seed money of GH¢3million from the government with the rest expected to be mobilised from the public.
At a ceremony held in Accra, the Authority also inaugurated the Accra Central Library Conference Facility which has a 200 seating-capacity and would be rented out, to generate income to support the sustenance of all libraries.
The anniversary is on the theme “70 years of transforming minds through libraries.”
The Minister of Education, Dr Matthew Opoku-Prempeh in an address, said the government had introduced various reforms and initiatives to resuscitate the library system from a “bleak and unattractive” state.
“Due to years of underinvestment, the buildings were falling apart, the interiors did not inspire any learning, books were out-of-date and stocks were diminishing, and [lacked] technology and digitisation”, he said.
Dr Opoku-Prempeh said over the four years, the government had increased library books from 349,941 in 2016 to 1,024,992 in 2020, renovated 43 public libraries nationwide and increased the network of public libraries from 61 to 84.
He said the School and College Libraries Department of the Authority had been revived to provide books and furniture to school libraries nationwide and created an online Public Access Catalogue.
Other successes, he said, included the connection of regional libraries to the internet, automation of services and the repair of 10 Mobile Library vans which were broken down for more than a decade.
He announced that the Ministry and the Authority, would soon roll out a Learning Management System to enable educators to create virtual classrooms and communicate with their students.
This investment in the library system, he said, was because of the importance of reading in improving education outcomes and while commending the Authority for the successes chalked, he urged it to make the country a reading nation.
The GhLA Board Chairperson, Dr Helena Asamoah-Hassan, said the endowment fund, was the first for a library system in Africa, and needed to be support by all because the government could not bear the weight of the system alone.
“Let us have the courage to envision the greatness that education holds in Ghana and march towards making public libraries in Ghana an excellent repository of knowledge to sustain education”, she said.
The GhLA Executive Director, Hayford Siaw, said the Authority, with support from the government, would continue to improve the library system and increase access to books.
The GhLA was founded in 1950 with the mandate to establish, equip, maintain and manage public libraries in Ghana. It was the second state agency to be founded by an Act of parliament after COCOBOD.
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