Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has hosted the School of Digital Libraries at the Amonoo Neizer Conference Centre. The School was made possible by the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in collaboration with the Prempeh II Library, KNUST. The event runs from 28th to 2nd December, 2016.
In his welcome address, Reverend Professor Charles Ansah, the Pro Vice-Chancellor, observed that the Prempeh II Library as a knowledge hub played a major role towards the attainment of the vision of the University. He said that evidence showed that openness had become a defining feature of twenty-first century education, which had been made possible with advances in technology.
He noted that examples could be found in the exponential growth in learning resources such as Massive Open Online Courses, MIT Open Coursewares, iTunes U and OER Commons among others, which were impacting on every area of educational lives.
Rev. Professor Ansah stated that open access and knowledge were changing the pattern of information and knowledge-seeking habits of learners with many of them relying heavily on technology-mediated learning resources. These “digital natives” were accessing multimedia digital content from a growing palette of digital devices and applications with search engines playing an important role in the retrieval of these resources. Digital natives expected everything to be available on the web immediately, permanently and free- of-charge at the point of use.
He said libraries had always provided access to information and therefore played a vital role in the democratization of knowledge for development and lifelong learning and that the development of digital libraries held great potential for breaking down information barriers and promoting access to virtual knowledge collections that connected communities across different cultures. He therefore urged librarians to champion the cause of digital content development and speak loudly and clearly about the value of digital libraries in 21st century education.
He hoped the participants would forge closer links with stakeholders. He also hoped that the School would equip participants with the skills to help digitise, preserve and make accessible the unique historical and learning records held in various institutions.
Mr. Abednego Corlettey, representative from the Association of African Universities (AAU), stated that the AAU believes that Africans must use the knowledge created on the continent to solve problems on the continent. But to do so, we must not just create knowledge but must have the environment that will enable access to, and use of the knowledge so created. More importantly Africans must own the knowledge which is the objective of the Database of African Research and Thesis and Dissertations.
Mr. Corlettey stated that DATAD, which was instituted by his outfit provided a platform bringing together faculty and researchers from academic institutions for knowledge sharing and collaborative research that could result in further knowledge creation.
Dr. Helena Asamoah-Hassan, Executive Director of African Library and Information Association and Institution (AfLIA), in her presentation on “The Scholarly e-information Access in Ghana – an Overview” said that though most libraries in Ghana, were automated, until there was full automation, there would continue to be a problem with information sharing.
Dr. Asamoah-Hassan said though most academic libraries in Ghana had internet access, no academic library in Ghana was digital since there was none which was fully online. She cited challenges such as limited power supply, high cost of library management, inadequate funding, non–existent preservation agreement and low capacity of some staff as the reasons for Ghana’s limited digital presence.
She said all academic libraries had virtual libraries and KNUST in addition had Open Access repositories. The Executive Director used the occasion to appeal for funding, training and capacity building of library staff to ensure the sustenance of open access since demand for scholarly information was on the increase in Ghana.
Jens Vigen from CERN, Annette Holtkamp, Tibor Simko and Antonin Benoit Diouf, facilitators of the programme took participants through “Operation of Digital Libraries”, “Open Source Software”, “Web Technologies and APIs”, “Operation Repositories and Open Access Principles”.