The 4th African Library Summit & 2nd AfLIA Conference, Yaoundé Cameroon

The 4th African Library Summit & 2nd AfLIA Conference, Yaoundé Cameroon

Dr. Shimelis Assefa and Janet Lee

Two Colorado librarians were among the 127 attendees at the 4th African Library Summit & 2nd AfLIA Conference held in Yaounde, Cameroon.  Janet Lee, Chair of the International Library and Cultural Exchange Interest Group, collaborated with Dr. Shimelis Assefa, Professor at the Morgridge College of Education Library and Information Science Program at the University of Denver on a paper “Public Libraries as a Place to Advance Tolerance,” which surveyed libraries in Colorado and across the nation on programs and practices that promote tolerance.  Dr. Assefa also presented on “Data and Information Literacy.”  Janet partnered with newly Returned Peace Corps Ethiopia Volunteer, Ben Rearick, a student in the University of Michigan’s Library and Information Science Program, on a poster “A Hyena’s Tale: Introducing Children to the Power of Reading in Ethiopia.”  Dr. Assefa also presented a poster “The well-being of Nations and what Libraries can do to Help:  The Case for Africa.”   A version of the Lee/Rearick poster has been accepted for the International Poster Session at the American Library Association conference in Chicago in June.

University of Michigan Student and RPCV Ethiopia, Ben Rearick

Janet Lee and AfLIA President John Tsebe







Over 45 African countries sent representatives to the conference from Egypt to the north and South Africa to the south, South Africa once again sending the largest number of representatives. The conference was simultaneously translated from English to French and French to English serving the multi-lingual needs of conference attendees.

The University of Yaoundé choir


The University of Yaounde Choir opened the ceremonies with a round of musical selections. IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner and IFLA President-Elect Gloria Perez-Salmernon opened the conference.  Both noted the strong presence of IFLA in Africa and its growing role in the development agenda:  access to information.  Deborah Jacobs, Global Libraries, followed and challenged African libraries to be the model for other regions of the world.

The “Ethiopia” contingent: Ben Rearick, Garoma Daba (Librarian, African Union), Janet Lee, Shimelis Assefa

The next three days were filled with plenary sessions, keynote speakers, panels, an unconference, and exhibits. Many excellent presentations covered themes of Development Agenda, ICT in Academic/Research Libraries, Research Data, Role of Libraries in Building Peace and Justice in Africa, Libraries in the Development Agenda, Women, Youth, and Children’s Services in the Development Agenda, Preservation of Africa’s Culture and Heritage, and Linking the Cape Town Declaration with Africa’s Future.  Attendees also represented all types of libraries: schools, public, academic, national and international.  Each attendee received a CD complete with the full text of the presentations in lieu of a print copy of the proceedings.

There were ample opportunities to network with librarians from across Africa including a cultural evening with traditional dancing and an all-conference dinner closing the conference.

Traditional dances

Traditional dances






Because of a national holiday all libraries and businesses were closed canceling the anticipated library visits.  However, attendees were able to visit the National Museum the evening prior.

Outdoor art at the National Museum

Outdoor art at the National Museum







The next African Library Summit will be held in Cape Town and the combined Summit and AfLIA conference in two years at a place to be determined.



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