Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

The Role of Ghana Public Libraries in the Digitization of Indigenous Knowledge: Issues and Prospects

Academic journal article The Journal of Pan African Studies (Online)

The Role of Ghana Public Libraries in the Digitization of Indigenous Knowledge: Issues and Prospects

Article excerpt

Abstract

African nations are going through many changes resulting in a loss of traditional, cultural and customary knowledge as a result of a lack of the preservation and digitization of African indigenous knowledge (AIK). These are causing cultural gaps between many generations and denying the continent the power and knowledge that it has developed for centuries. While technological advancement constitutes a vital component of sustainable development, there is a conspicuous and persistent lack of African indigenous knowledge technological advancement in Africa and a greater dependency on 'western scientific' technologies. African indigenous knowledge is considered the basis for self-sufficiency and self-determination, providing effective alternatives to western technologies. Several reasons exist to digitize African indigenous knowledge AIK for sustainable development. AIK is holistic; Indigenous Peoples' systems of traditional knowledge and its use tend to have impact on biological diversity; management approaches are based on self-regulation. The use of AIK is considered one of the cornerstones that can guarantee the survival of the economies of the African developing world in the wake of scarce resources and reduced donor funding. There is also increasing recognition that the use of AIK and the application of indigenous natural resource management systems provide effective strategies for the sustainable use of natural resources. However, this knowledge base is unrecorded and it is diminishing at alarming rate. This paper looks at the issues, prospects, and the role of public libraries in Ghana in digitizing indigenous knowledge for posterity and accessibility to the general public. Using mainly literature review and an interview of the director of Public Library Service in Ghana, it was revealed that lack of human resource, finance; infrastructure, internet connectivity, and copyright, among other things, possess a great challenge in the digitization of indigenous knowledge in Ghana. The paper then advocates training of public librarians, conducting of research based on endogenous approach, provision of infrastructure, and providing a policy framework which will enhance the process of converting information into a digital format.

Keywords: Indigenous Knowledge, Sustainable Development, Digitization, Public Libraries, Ghana.

Introduction

African nations are going through many changes with the hope of advancing their development initiatives to provide better living condition to its inhabitants. And simultaneously, many traditional, cultural and customary resources are being lost due to a lack of a preservation and general access to indigenous knowledge causing cultural gaps between many generations, and therefore denying the continent of the power and knowledge that it has developed for centuries. Thus, knowledge is the key to sustainable, social and economic development (Lodhi, Mikulecky, 2010), and in building on local knowledge, the basic component of any national knowledge system, is the first step in mobilizing capital for knowledge development initiatives. Localization thus provides an exchange within a community where providers and recipients speak the same language and share in an underlying cultural context making it much more easy to transfer tacit knowledge across cultures.

While technological advancement constitutes a vital component of sustainable development, there is a conspicuous and persistent lack of African indigenous knowledge (AIK) technological advancement in Africa and thus a greater dependency on 'western scientific' technologies. Yet, a digital AIK library with appropriate subject matter would be ideal for study and in giving insight into or presenting potential information for preserving AIK and conserving them for posterity. The concepts of sustainability and sustainable development have become powerful themes that continue to provide the foundation for a number of local, national, and international initiatives. …

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