Monthly Archives: May 2019

Development Accelerators: How Libraries and Access to Information Unblock Development

Libraries: Development Accelerators

The objectives set out by the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda are as ambitious as they are necessary in order to ensure the sustainability of our economies and societies.

A clear implication is that business as usual is not a possibility. Instead, there need to be both new resources and new policy approaches in order to accelerate progress and bridge divides. This in turn requires reflection on how best to invest time, effort and money for results.


The Role of Accelerators

This is what lies behind the concept of Development Accelerators, as promoted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as part of the Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support (MAPS) initiative. This was conceived as a means of planning the work of United Nations country teams, as well as supporting national and local action.

Within this framework, development accelerators ‘encompass key interventions, provisions, services, or programmatic areas (such as social protection or tobacco control) that simultaneously make positive impact across multiple SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) or targets in a given context’.

Accelerators respond to ‘bottlenecks’ – situations or factors which slow down progress across a number of fronts.

The above quote comes from a study published recently in The Lancet, looking at examples of development accelerators in South Africa, with a specific focus on young people suffering from HIV.

The study highlights the contribution of policies such as promoting safety at school and direct cash transfers, which appear to lead not only to better mental health and freedom from abuse, staying in school, and sticking to treatment routines.


Access to Information as an Accelerator

The concept of development accelerators appears to describe well the contribution of access to information and libraries to social, economic and cultural progress.

Access is key to enabling better decision making – about education, employment, agriculture – at the level of individuals. It is also essential for the effectiveness of government initiatives targeted at the public – without it, programmes are unlikely to reach those who need them most.

Access at the governmental level enables better policy-making through the possibility to use evidence, and of course supports transparency and accountability to parliaments and people.

It also allows for the sort of international research collaboration that is needed to understand and respond to climate change.

It follows that a lack of access creates a bottleneck, with individuals unable to fulfil their potential and seize opportunities, governments taking poor decisions, and researchers producing incomplete or duplicative work.


Unblocking the Bottleneck: Libraries

Libraries a key means of delivering this accelerator, as places where everyone is welcome to come, read and learn.

One building, with the right resources and staff, can help one user find health information, another a job opportunity, and another fill in forms to access eGovernment services.

Others may come to read to their children, to improve their literacy skills, others may come simply to enjoy the company of other people, strengthening the inclusiveness of the community.

All of these outcomes correspond to SDG targets, underlining this potential.

Clearly strong libraries deliver even more in conjunction with other policies such as those in support of good internet infrastructure, equitable and effective education, equal societies and protection for fundamental freedoms. Indeed, together, these policies can reinforce the effectiveness of each other.


The second Development and Access to Information Report, due out in just over two weeks, will provide further examples of what access – and libraries – can do to contribute to success across the board.

We encourage UNDP and all others engaged in sustainable development policy planning to work with libraries to deliver the access that can help accelerate progress.

Preserving and Promoting the Igbo Language in Libraries

2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages. IFLA has been celebrating and promoting the year, sharing stories of libraries from all over the world, which are contributing to the safeguarding and promotion of indigenous languages and cultures.

We have been in Canada, where libraries are collecting and preserving historical and culturally diverse records to ensure that indigenous groups benefit and see themselves reflected in the work of libraries. From there we went to the border-area of Germany and Denmark, where we learned how the Danish library in Germany provides access to literature in the mother language. From Germany to Geneva – Wend Wendland, Director of WIPO Traditional Knowledge Division, explained more about the relationship between copy right and traditional knowledge.

The next stop in our trip around the world is in Nigeria. Nkechi Sabina Udeze, Acting Director of Anambra State Library Board and Amaka Florence Nwofor, Senior Lecturer of Library and Information Science at Nnamdi Azikiwe University give us an insight into how they are working to preserve and promote the Igbo language in Nigeria.

Preserving the Igbo Language

The project by Anambra State Library (ANSLB) was born out of UNESCO’s 2016 warning that the Igbo language could become extinct by 2025, and following its participation in the Cultural Heritage contest run by the African Library & Information Associations & Institutions (AfLIA).

To preserve and promote the Igbo language, in 2018 the library created a cultural heritage corner in the headquarters of the Board with collected books and artifacts from communities through members of the Board.

Librarian protecting Igbo heritage, NigeriaThe collection grew through strong advocacy and documented oral history records from students of the department of LIS, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. These records were made available by the lecturer leading on teaching Oral Tradition in the Department, Mrs Amaka Nwofor.

The ANSLB’s activities and programmes include presentations of Igbo language and culture such as drama, folklore, poetry, songs, reading, proverbs and riddles. The library preserves the Igbo language through engaging the younger generation to speak the Igbo language, and to make use of the books and electronic information resources.

The Library visits local communities, organises activities and programmes, and attends general meeting of Traditional Rulers. These Rulers have submitted historical records of their towns and advised others on how to do the same and make sure that their town’s history is preserved.

The Anambra State Broadcasting Station also hosts a radio show by the Acting Director of the ANSLB, Nkechi Udeze PhD. In her show she stresses that historical records should be translated into the Igbo language, while complementary copies and electronic versions should be brought to the cultural heritage corner of the ANSLB for preservation, documentation and dissemination.

The radio show has received great feedback, and listeners are commending this innovation geared towards checking the extinction of the endangered language and culture. As a result of this laudable project, more members of the communities are donating books and artifacts to support the preservation of the Igbo language and culture.

The 10-Minute Library Advocate #16: Choose an SDG, and Think How Your Library Helps Achieve It

The 10-Minute Library Advocate #16: Choose an SDG, and Think How Libraries Help Achieve It

Advocacy can require you to adapt quickly.

If you want the person you’re talking with to agree with you and support libraries, you need to respond to their priorities.

You need arguments that speak to them, and show how libraries help achieve things they care about.

But people care about different things? A doctor cares about health, a teacher about education, a farmer about climate change. How can you be ready? A good way is to prepare your ideas on a range of issues.

For our sixteenth 10-Minute Library Advocate, pick a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), and think of a way in which libraries help achieve it.

The SDGs provide a great framework for thinking about almost every policy area.

You don’t need to do all at once – start with one, and do others if you have time.

You can find ideas in IFLA’s Access and Opportunity for All publication. and SDG Stories in the IFLA Library Map of the World. There are also great examples from librarians around the world.

Share your ideas!

Good luck!


See the introduction and previous posts in our 10-Minute Library Advocate series and join the discussion in social media using the #EveryLibrarianAnAdvocate hashtag!