5TH JANUARY 2020
As the President, African Library and Information Associations and Institutions, I heartily welcome all African librarians and information workers to 2021! Dear colleagues, I am glad we all made it to the new year; a year full of promises and challenges.
First, a reality check … 2020 was a tough year as the COVID-19 crisis literally shut the world down and created unprecedented health, economic, social, educational and communication challenges as workplaces, banks, markets, schools, libraries, churches all closed up. African communities and households without Internet access were hard hit as teaching, learning and all manner of interactions moved online. The concept of disinfordemic was born as fake information about the pandemic became an epidemic that promoted fear and panic, cost lives, delayed the formulation of policies to check the spread of the virus and planted doubts and conspiracy theories about vaccines. We have just stepped into 2021 and we are confronted with the second wave of the virus with mutated easily transmissible variants found in Africa.
More than ever, the challenge before us is for all librarians to be in the forefront of information dissemination to ensure that the damage done by disinfordemic about COVID-19 is undone in Africa, one community at a time, until we cover the entire continent. Are you ready to walk with AfLIA, the trusted voice of the African Library and Information sector as we strive to train and retrain librarians on Media and Information literacy to equip them with the requisite skills to fight against disinfordemic?
As learning and interactions of all types go online, 2021 is the year for African librarians and information workers to further expand their horizons and explore how to be librarians in online spaces even when the library doors are shut and schools utilize digital platforms for teaching. This is critical as some would wish to denigrate the importance of librarians in information dissemination and as catalysts for quality education. This has led AfLIA to make solid plans to train African librarians on how to work in collaborative digital platforms, software development, how to web scrape, develop policies and practices for Open Educational Resources (OER) etc. in 2021. The trainings promise to be exciting. This yea, we are also working with other organizations to educate African librarians on pertinent issues that affect how we operate as information professionals such as Copyright and PLR (Public Lending Rights). Furthermore, 2021 will see a composite listing of African librarians to know who’s who. Ensure that you are not left out.
These and many more reasons are why we should all support AfLIA to grow and expand. In this new year therefore, I strongly enjoin you to identify with and become advocates of AfLIA on all platforms. Promote the activities of AfLIA. Most importantly, take up membership by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org This has become important because while AfLIA continues with free webinars on diverse current topics in Library and Information Science, some of the specialized trainings will be only for members.
As the President AfLIA, I will be kick-starting a quarterly program, ‘Ask the President’ this year. This is to engage more with the African Library and Information sector in order to better understand my constituency as I feel your pulse, hear your views and we all reason together in charting the way forward for greater impact. The first ‘Ask The President’ will be Thursday, 21st January, 2021. Details will be made available by the AfLIA Communications Team.
This year, 2021, is AfLIA’s conference year. Travel restrictions are still on in many African countries due to COVID-19. AfLIA plans to ensure that no one is left behind by making it a hybrid conference. The AfLIA secretariat will provide details soon. This is also an election year in AfLIA. Ensure that the membership status of your library/organization makes you eligible to vote and/or be voted for so that you will have a say in how things happen in AfLIA.
May this year bring new happiness, new goals, new achievements, and a lot of new inspirations on your life. Wishing you a year fully loaded with happiness.
Thank you and once again I welcome you to 2021.
Mr. Mandla Ntombela
African Library & Information Associations and Institutions – AfLIA