Most times the word library comes up and you think, “boring, it’s just a place to read.” Well, that’s only a tiny piece of the puzzle. A library provides an ocean of opportunity for the public because you never know what treasure you could stumble upon. Especially tech-wise. Libraries are the most under-utilized and unappreciated resource in Zambia. Most people would say it was lame to spend a Saturday afternoon at the public library so that somebody would be ashamed to admit it. Part of this ignorance has led to the diminishing role of librarians in the country and the lack of pursuit of education in Library Studies. Consequently, the love for books has also gone down the drain to the extent that buying a book is shocking to certain people. Perhaps it is for this reason that local libraries are decades behind and not in tune with innovation.
According to the DC public library, “the library provides environments that invite reading, learning and community discussion and equips people to learn all their lives, to embrace diversity and to build a thriving city.” This can be done by creating a library space that is more than just bookshelves of books upon bookshelves of books.
Those who have lived abroad are familiar with the fact that libraries in the Western world are an ideal location to do your job search. With a library card (sometimes without), access is granted not only to borrowing books but also accessing the computer (internet) and stationery services like printing, scanning, photocopying, faxing, among other things. Who needs internet cafes right? The whole concept is to expand the reach of technology and encourage its use by the public. The students, the unemployed, the homeless, even just the bored ones can all use libraries without discrimination.
Technology closes the communication gap among various stakeholders in our communities. What better way is there to spread ICT than through the grassroots? A digital commons like the one in DC (District of Colombia) definitely wouldn’t hurt our cities. In fact, it would work in tandem with the recently announced plans to set up a computer assembly plant in Lusaka.
“Much of the technology has been invested in the mining sector, leaving out others such as agriculture, education and health”, stated an observation in an editorial article by the Times of Zambia. It is imperative to realise that technology, in reality, is all encompassing. It is the driving force of a dynamic economy. Those who utilize it and maximise it surely reap a bumper harvest. Just look at India’s ascendancy on the global stage. One word, remarkable!
The technological side to libraries is one that is yet to hit the spot in Zambia. Right or wrong, no spot has been hit at all. Therefore, there is a need to integrate technology into the library system. The library can actually be a digital hub where computers and the latest technology is housed. Thanks to libraries and dedicated librarians, indispensable databases and online encyclopaedias exist like Wikipedia. Don’t even get me started with Google. Information does not come from thin air. It comes from books. Millions and millions of books. So let’s get reading people. Be it on paper or online. The digital wave is well advanced and Zambia is behind.
Below are the features of the digital commons at the DC public Library:
Feature image credit: Liberty News