In today’s digital age, accessing information has evolved beyond the traditional library experience. E-libraries have become increasingly prevalent, emphasizing the need for librarians to adapt and acquire new digital skills to enhance the information-seeking process. One essential skill in this digital transformation is the proficient use of Wikipedia.
Recognizing this gap in digital literacy, Open Foundation West Africa (OFWA) and the Goethe Institute Ghana have joined forces to empower librarians across Ghana. Their collaborative effort aims to bridge the digital skills gap among librarians, providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to enhance their efficiency in serving as custodians of information.
By imparting essential digital skills to librarians, this initiative not only ensures that librarians can harness the power of digital resources like Wikipedia but also strengthens their ability to facilitate access to information for the communities they serve. This partnership between OFWA and the Goethe Institute Ghana promises to make a significant impact on the field of librarianship in Ghana.
In the early part of this year, we launched the Wikiskills for Librarians workshop Southern Belt of Ghana which saw the participation of librarians from 9 institutions including, Akenten Appiah Menkah University Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Development, Cape Coast Technical University, GHANA EDUCATION SERVICE, Ghana Library Authority, HERITAGE CHRISTIAN COLLEGE LIBRARY, Takoradi Technical University, University of Health Allied Sciences LIBRARY, University of Education Winneba, University of Ghana Library System from across Accra, Central, Eastern, Volta and Shanti regions.
To ensure more inclusivity, the program was designed to host selected librarians from both the Southern and Northern belts. The second phase of the #WikiSkillsforLibrariansWorkshop which was recently held, targeted librarians in the Northern Sector of Ghana. The event witnessed the participation of library professionals from northern parts of Ghana, including the Northern, North East, Upper West, and Upper East regions from institutions such as the University for Development Studies Library, Tamale Technical University Library, Chereponi SHS/Tech Library, Tamale Technical University Library (e-resource unit), Ghana Library Authority Tamale, Nursing and Midwifery Training College- Tamale, Tamale College of Education Library, Ghana Library Authority-Bolgatanga.
What was particularly surprising at this event was the fact that over 90% of attending librarians were unaware they could edit Wikipedia or knew about Wikipedia’s sister projects like Wikimedia Commons, WIkidata etc. This knowledge gap highlights the pressing need for equipping librarians with the digital skills required to excel in their roles as information professionals.
At the training, participants had the opportunity to learn about Wikipedia, how to reference and add content to Wikipedia articles, and how to upload photos on Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata.
For most of them, this was their first time editing Wikipedia, and to them, this is one of their greatest achievements.
“My greatest achievement was my ability to start articles that do not already exist in Wikidata and I am working to improve them- Ziblim”
“As a librarian, I was able to edit an article on Wikipedia, also now know more about Wikipedia, Wiki Commons wiki data, etc. – Sampson”
Apart from learning about Wikipedia and its sister projects as an information resource, they have also come to understand how Wikipedia works which has cleared the doubts and misconceptions they previously had about Wikipedia.
“I believe that Wikipedia and its sister projects can advance my work as a librarian in a number of ways. For example, they can provide me with access to a wealth of information, help me to stay up-to-date on current events, and connect me with other librarians from around the world.”
“I think perceptions about Wikipedia have changed over the years. It used to be seen as a less reliable source of information, but I think that’s changed now. More and more people are using Wikipedia as a starting point for their research, and I think it’s generally seen as a credible source.- Stephen”
I believe that Wikipedia and its sister projects can advance my work as a librarian in a number of ways. For example, they can provide me with access to a wealth of information, help me to stay up-to-date on current events, and connect me with other librarians from around the world.
“We learned how to properly categorize articles, which will help to improve how users search for information on the platform” -Ayishetu
This is not the end. We continue to engage these librarians to further improve their skills on Wikimedia tools to be incorporated in their work. As we move further into the digital era, it is crucial for librarians to keep pace with technological advancements. The #WikiSkillsforLibrariansWorkshop and the collaboration between OFWA and the Goethe Institute Ghana are positive steps toward a future where librarians are well-equipped to meet the evolving needs of information seekers in Ghana.
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