May 17, 2022

African Libraries Are Bridging a Digital Divide

From Carnegie Reporter (Carnegie Corp. of New York):

New broadband access and low-cost digital tools like smartphones and mobile applications hold great promise for African libraries and universities, enabling students, scholars, and researchers to take deep dives into the rich histories of their countries, to explore and enrich postcolonial identities, and to create the sort of cross-boundary scholarship that can propel the continent’s interests forward.

But technology itself isn’t enough to unleash that potential. What else is needed? Tech-savvy librarians.

“If you are building strong postgraduate education, you need good information professionals,” said Claudia Frittelli, program officer in Carnegie Corporation of New York’s Higher Education and Research in Africa program. “Academic librarians who are themselves participating in new forms of knowledge-sharing are better equipped to inform and engage researchers in low- or no-cost communications, in networking, and in joint research to increase their visibility, relevance, and research productivity.”


The program [at the University of Pretoria] introduces students to the wide world of technology-rich information science, including open content and open-access literature, techniques for digitizing and creating research-friendly repositories of historical materials, and tools that help researchers access information more readily.

The aspiring librarians then put that knowledge to use through a range of hands-on projects. Students have built several new online collections of research materials, such as a repository focused on healthcare research in Ghana and electronic theses and dissertation collections in Uganda. Some have already implemented simple low-investment, high-impact digital tools at their own institutions, including library Facebook pages, shared Google Docs, wikis (websites that allow for collaborative editing), and online “ask a librarian” support.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.