By Tabora Bojang
The Gambia National Library Service Authority (GNLSA) on Thursday officially began the revitalisation process of the defunct Gambia Library and Information Services Association (GAMLISA) which was established in 1987 to look into the welfare of people working in the library and information fields.
The meeting was held at the GNLSA headquarters in Banjul and was attended by deputy permanent secretary of higher education ministry, senior librarians, principals, representatives of former GAMLISA executive, and other stakeholders of the library and information services.
The meeting is intended to bring together all library and information professionals and staff in the Gambia, with the main aim of reviving the GAMLISA in order to strategise and map out way forward in making the GAMLISA an active Association of librarians and information managers, who would represent their interests both nationally and internationally.
According to officials, the African Library and Information Association (AFLIA) as the regional governing body has tasked the GNLSA with the onus of coordinating the operation and management of a vibrant library Association in the Gambia that would harmonise their efforts as the primary stakeholders and information providers in the society, which among others necessitates the need to revive the defunct Association that will stand for the need and welfare of library and information.
The Director General of the Gambia National Library Service Authority Mrs. Matilda Johnson spoke on the need for reviving and revitalising the GAMLISA which was initially set up to look into the concerns and the needs of people working in libraries, archives, information and documentation centres in the Gambia.
“We see the need to have the Association revitalised because we recognise that if we do not have a strong body or organisation which will stand up for us and which will be able to take our needs and our concerns to the Government, then we are nowhere because we have seen other professions with associations and they are thriving. But for us in the library and information field, we are just nowhere. People don’t know about us, people don’t know our value, people don’t think what we are doing is important; so these are some of the things that need to change,” Mrs. Johnson said.
She dwelled on the importance of reviving the association which she said will be able to become an advocate body and help revive the culture of reading in the Gambia.
“This Association will be able to come up with something which we can present to the Government and say look, this our scheme of service, can you try and implement it so that anybody working in the libraries across the board depending on your qualification will be paid the same salaries and there will be no discrepancies,” she stated.
At the end of the meeting, a committee consisting of senior librarians was selected and it was mandated to come up with a draft constitution in the next session so as to quicken the reviving and revitalization processes of the GAMLISA.