After visiting the Padmore Library, Foster and I headed to the Ghana Library Board (GLB) where I had the good fortune to speak with the Director of the Ghana Library Board, Mr. Adjei Apenten. He answered my questions about the GLB and some information about the main library. The GLB is the centralized headquarters for all national public libraries in Ghana. Each of the ten regions in Ghana has a regional library plus there exist an additional 53 branch libraries. The majority of books are acquired through donation from Book Aid International (BAI), a book donation program based in London, England. All the cataloging and processing of books is done at the GLB Main Library then the books are shipped out to the regional/branch libraries. To stress this point, the three women I met in the Cataloging Room, along with the librarian, catalog and type cards for all the regional and branch libraries in the whole country.
The GLB main library has three departments, the Reference Library, the Lending Library, and the Children's Library. The Lending Library is a large open room with books along the walls. It seems as if some of the books are donated by publishers since multiple (5-6) copies of the books are made available. To obtain a borrowing card from the library one must provide a passport picture as well as proof of identity. Still, the majority of patrons use the facility without ever obtaining a card,
The Children's Library is also a large open space, filled with books, tables, and displays. I spoke with Matilda, the Head Librarian, and she told me that the government does supply funds to purchase children's books. The books are chosen by a Selection Committee made up of other librarians and Mr. Apenten, the Director. She also told me that the library sees heavy use, especially during school breaks when as many as 90 children a day attend. She coordinates programs and activities for the children including quizzes, story hour, and reading lessons.
A short history of librarianship in Ghana. The Rt. Rev. John Orfeur Aglionby began the first small library in Ghana in 1928, right across the street from the current Ghana Library Board. Aglionby was British as was all his staff and the library was supported by the British Council. A.G.T. Ofori served as the first Ghanaian librarian in charge of the GLB but was forced to resign after the Rawlins coup (librarian as political appointment?). Library Science classes were first offered by UNESCO, training taking place at the GLB building. Later the degree was transferred to the University of Ghana.