I travelled with Cohort 2, AfLIA Leadership Academy (AfLAc) to Nashville. We visited the Nashville Public Library to engage with ideas and possibilities as a prelude to #PLA2020 and to understand the American public libraries system better. I am learning a lot but –
“the visit to the Civil Rights Room has triggered off emotions, a new understanding of the place of librarians in shaping Africa and resolutions to rise above the ordinary, push beyond known and unknown boundaries and step into a new vista of librarianship.”
History is critical. Knowing what, where, how, why of events past helps to shape thoughts, perspectives of present generations. Most importantly it gives the people of now the understanding to say #NeverAgain as they learn & see history through different prisms of the past and present. The struggles of today are rooted in the events of yesteryears. We stumble, fall and stew in our own mess if we fail to recognise that today is influenced by what went on before.
The Civil Rights Room in the Nashville Public Library asks a poignant question- ‘If not us, then who? If not now, then when?’
This can only be answered when we understand who we are & what brought us to our present state of being. That is one of the reasons why Libraries need to be in every African Community as they represent voices long dead but still speak. They tell us who we are. If we forget where we came from, how can we know where we are going? If we shy away from facing the realities in most African States, what will happen to the next generation? Who will they learn from? When the wise ones refuse to counsel children, the village idiot will have a big audience. Librarians cannot afford to go to sleep on letting Africans know who they are!
Libraries tell us that ‘Freedom is never enough’ because people need to have their VOICES! They need to be free to speak and tell their stories themselves of their identity, values & meanings. That is the only way to birth true acceptance & build inclusivity in the 21st century. This is a core reason why AfLIA has partnered with OER Africa, Wikipedia, StoryWeaver and African Storybook. We need to escalate our voices in online spaces as information continues to migrate to such platforms.
“Librarians are best suited to help communities share their stories online, to assist academics embrace Open Licensing and Open Access and to show people how to project their meanings into stories for the world to read, know them and accept them as they are.”
Libraries have voices that can answer questions and shine light on the road to true freedom to be all you want to be, to speak & tell your own story. AfLIA will continue to advocate for #AfricanLibraries and asking people, organizations and governments to #TalkToAfLIA because Libraries have the power to change the trajectory of every African community. Come along with us!
Dr. Nkem E. Osuigwe, Human Capacity Development & Training Director, AfLIA
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