Inkanyiso: Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences

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Library and Information Science education in Anglophone Africa: Past, present and future

Japhet Otike


The purpose of this article is to describe the historical development of Library and Information Science (LIS) schools on the African continent from the colonial period to the present. It highlights the factors that contributed to the growth of library schools and challenges experienced in their development. This study was based entirely on literature review and the author’s extensive knowledge, teaching experience and research in LIS education in Africa. Information was obtained from both published and non-published sources. Colleagues in LIS education also contributed immensely to the outcome of the work. It was found that the earliest schools were initially known as library schools. The term changed to LIS schools much later, after independence. Library schools started in the colonial era, initially in South Africa, moving all the way through West Africa to East Africa. The curricula used in the schools were based on programmes prevailing in the mother country. Unesco played an important role in the development of library schools on the continent. It came up with the concept of regional library schools. Public and academic libraries were instrumental in agitating for the establishment of library schools. With the onset of independence on the continent, the concept of regional schools died, giving rise to self-sufficiency. Currently, LIS schools are mushrooming all over the continent. It is concluded that if this trend is not checked, it could have a serious effect on the quality of the graduates. Although the future of LIS schools is bright, it will greatly depend on how the library profession is marketed. LIS schools will need to match the rapid changes taking place in the information industry.

Keywords: Africa, East Africa School of Librarianship, Library and information science education, library schools, library education, schools of information sciences

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