Policies for Digital Libraries and Archives in Africa: Developing Strategies for Access to Knowledge for Development
Diso, Lukman Ibraheem
The paper highlights the strategic role of regional and national policies for digital libraries and archives in promoting access to knowledge for development in Africa. It views regional/national information policies as general frameworks and contexts within which policies for digital libraries and archives are situated. It recognizes, however, the need to highlight the latter as instruments for effective access to, and sharing of, knowledge in the contemporary world in which increasing dependence on digital technology makes the effective participation of digitally deficient nations virtually impossible. The paper provides an overview of the existing provisions in terms of laws, policies, agencies, institutions, facilities and such information/information and communication technologies (ICT) infrastructures that are supposed to be the basis for developing national and regional links for resource sharing. It identifies and analyses the dilemma in achieving the set objectives of African information policies. While this dilemma, rooted in the political, economic and socio-cultural factors, operates at different, specific levels, these factors combine to constitute an obstacle to national and regional coordination and cooperation. Without coordination, effective resource sharing at global level is severely constrained. Hence the paper suggests strategies of formulating and coordinating the implementation of comprehensive regional and national policies for the development of digital libraries and archives in Africa, thus ensuring effective preservation of, and access to, African resources, and enabling resource sharing between Africans as well as on the global scale. The paper concludes by stressing that neither the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) nor the entire development agenda of Africa can be achieved without developing a strong and sustainable knowledge base by establishing a powerful and enduring backbone of information infrastructures capable of creating links for effective intra and inter-continental sharing of knowledge resources. The paper therefore recommends the setting up of a coordinating agency under the African Union (AU), to develop a policy framework on the basis of various existing national policies and to monitor and coordinate implementation at various levels.
ICADLA, conference, digital library, archive, Africa