Thursday, January 22, 2009

Public libraries in Mali

Entitled: "A Postcolonial Study of Three Public Libraries in Mali" by Jenny Wik. It is a Swedish college thesis, it seems. She discusses three libraries in three small towns. An extract:
The obstacles that the libraries are facing are apprehended fairly similarly in the three cases. The informants say that people don’t like reading very much and that the Malian people don’t have time to go to the library. In Bougouni and Tombouctou the frequentation by girls was very low, which is a serious problem. The girls are in general less educated than the boys and they have obligations in the house-hold work which hinders them to study and to use the library. Providing relevant documentation is difficult, especially in Bougouni and Koulikoro where the choice often is made abroad. The lack of money is a problem in all three cases which hinders the libraries providing sufficient staff, materials and relevant documentation.

One of the clearest issues that indicates postcolonial presence is the inadequate documentation that the investigated libraries are having sent to them. They are sent from abroad, often from France, the former coloniser of Mali, and the books are often old eliminated books not always relevant for the Malian readers. The way this type of co-operation is handled is based upon the fact that the Malian institutions are dependent on Northern values. French books for French readers are being sent to Mali for Malian readers because they are not needed anymore in France can be understood as a serious neo-colonial problem for these libraries. Another problem related to the documentation is that most books are in French in spite of the fact that there is a demand for books in other languages for example English. Books in the national languages are also underrepresented in the three studied libraries.
Another short discussion from 2006 of community libraries in Mali, by Mamadou Konoba Keita, the then Head of the Libraries and Documentation centres department of Mali, and President of the Malian Librarians Association.
- 46 district libraries;
- 1 rural community library;
- 7 national language libraries;
- 6 public libraries in Bamako;
- 6 reading and children's activity centres in Bamako;
- 1 reference library in Bamako;
- 1 children’s library in Bamako;
- 11 book deposits in rural areas bordering the railroad

Yes you saw that right, there is one (1) community library in rural areas in Mali (i.e. in villages). There are about 15,000 villages in Mali. So only 14,999 to go.

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