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Saturday, 5 November 2016


Kwame Agyei Dankwah, Ghana-Ho

I am so passionate when it comes to issues of library. This is because I was a victim of “lack of libraries in my vicinity” during my formative years. As a young chap growing up, I remember I could read well. I had the zeal to learn new words and understand new phrases. However, this zeal was challenged as I found myself in an environment where the culture of reading was reserved for the elite. After more than 20 years of primary school, I can still remember the titles of some chapters of some of the books we read in school. I remember “this is Ama” in primary two, “Mr. Kuma” in class three, “The hawk and the hen” in class four, “When Aku was ill” in class five and many more. Haaaa, these chapters always come with a level of nostalgia.
I remember I always wanted to be in the reading class because I believed I could read. However, my reading prowess always ended in the classroom. I had no reading book at home and to add salt to rub salt into my wound, I didn’t know of a library. Yes, I don’t remember I heard the word library during my developmental stages. And you know what, I have a confession to make. I have come to realize that I was limited in my vocabs. No wonder during my BECE exam (RME to be precise), when there was a question on chastity, I could not answer it. It is not that I didn’t have knowledge on the subject matter, the truth is I had not heard of the word.
I also remember that I was timid. Oh yes, I was. I don’t mean I was reserved. I was timid. Today I see myself as reserved. I was timid because I could not join any meaningful discussion when I meet other friends from other environments. Did I say friends? Hmmmmm, I should say other students. I had limited friends. I don’t know whether this was as a result of my timidity or reserved nature.
Back to the subject of availability of libraries. I narrated the above to let you know what I went through. How I was able to overcome these challenges will be the subject for another day. But what I learnt from these periods is the power of reading and the essence of a library.
I have learnt a lot of things from the library. By library, I do not only mean the brick and mortar environments stocked with books. I see library as access to organized information, ideas, and knowledge in a borderless environment. It is a place where acquisition of knowledge takes place. We know about other cultures, places, career, language among others from the library. These days, thanks to technology, we may not necessarily have to move from one place to the other looking for a library. Libraries are now available on our desktops. Let us make frantic efforts in learning. Learning, yes, learning. We seize to live the very day we seize to learn. Learn to improve your competencies. Learn to take control over your life. Learn, learn, learn on your sick bed, learn in your grave… ooooh, did I just say in your grave? Ha, maybe we should do a study to find out if there is learning after death. But learn.
Ignorance has become the greatest enemy of mankind. Why that face? So, you didn’t know your greatest enemy? Then today stop focusing on that person. He is not the enemy. The enemy is ignorance. How did you feel as a nurse when you told everybody that chloroquine is the best therapy for the treatment of malaria in this 21st century? What about you, you the librarian/researcher? When you forcibly told people that the only way to do referencing is to manually and meticulously write the bibliographic details of a material they use down? What? Did you really tell them this? Aba!!!! How could you say this my dear nurse, my dear librarian? In this age of ATCs? How could you recommend chloroquine? In this age of reference managers? How could you force your users to do that? What about you the n……?  Are you scared? I will not mention yours. The point is we may know something today, but the rate at which knowledge is growing is unimaginable. So, let us refrain from the attitude of I know and go back to the learning table. Let us unlearn the antediluvian things. Let us abreast ourselves of up-to-date things.
And where else can we do this better? I recommend to you the library. The place to relearn. Oh yes, relearn. Have you considered the number of times a technology or a system you are using gets updated? Hu? If you do not relearn how to use its new functions, your system will become a white elephant. Relearn. Use the library. Relearn.
“While we’re all born with an intense desire to learn, somewhere along the line many of us lose our passion for learning. Whatever the reasons, once the basics are covered, many people tend to stick with what they know and avoid situations or challenges where they may mess up or be forced to learn something new, thus creating a safe, secure and comfortable (and confining) world for themselves. Here, they do their best to mould the changes going on around them—in people, events and the general environment—to fit with their current ‘mental maps.’ They may say they’re open to change, but actually do their best to avoid it. For a while, that strategy can work fairly well. What it doesn’t do is prepare them to adapt to a future that may well require an entirely new set of maps.”
I once again recommend the library for you as the place to learn, unlearn and relearn.