16 December 2011

Cameroon: BSLA second workshop raises visibility of a young association

The IFLA BSLA Programme, launched in 2010, is taking shape and making an impact on the information profession in Cameroon. The first training, successfully organized in January 2011, focused on Modules 1&2 of the BSLA training packages. The first workshop resulted in the re-birth of the Library Professional Association, ABADCAM, which is now active with 25 paid up members.
The second BSLA workshop (Workshop-2) was successfully delivered on 17 -19 November 2011, in Yaoundé, Cameroon. This report highlights the activities and outcomes of the BSLA Cameroon Workshop 2.

Workshop Objectives

The Cameroon Workshop-2 was a continuation of the BSLA Training Programme aimed at building capacity among Library professionals to project a high professional and social profile for libraries and librarians in Cameroon. In particular, the workshop focused on enhancing skills in sustainability, strategic relationships and Advocacy

Workshop Programme

Workshop Programme consisted of power point presentations coupled with group exercises from several BSLA modules. In addition the trainer took advantage of the forum to present FAIFE’s module on “Transparency, Good Governance and Freedom from Corruption”.

The support of Dr. Rosemary Tsafack as the local assistant trainer enhanced the understanding of the participants. She was able to explain difficult concepts in French to assist those with limited understanding of English. Group discussions reflected a better understanding of the concepts in comparison with the first workshop.

Participation

The Cameroon Workshop-2 attracted 40 participants (30 official participants + 10 observers) carefully selected to represent relevant institutions/organizations and the regions. This number is on the higher side for a workshop but considering the circumstances on the ground, it was necessary.

  1. The Library Association in Cameroon had become inactive. It is necessary to sensitize as many professionals as possible to participate in the process of reviving the Association.
  2. ABADCAM has established focal points in all the regions of the country. It was necessary to have representation from each region. Yaoundé has 4 focal points.
  3. The country lacks adequate training facilities for information professionals to enhance skills. Potential members for the Association are just not well informed on professional issues and hence do not value Association’s membership. The BSLA Programme has presented a rare opportunity which is paying off. The result is a strong team of informed professionals that are working together to make change

Outcome of the Workshop

The Cameroon Workshop-2 provided the skills most needed by ABADCAM officials to sustain the Association. Group discussions focused on identifying strategies for sustainability, particularly retaining membership and stakeholders.

Taking into consideration the circumstances on the ground, participants used the opportunity to identify:

  1. Challenges facing ABADCAM in sustainability

  2. Possible sources of income
  3. Strategies for attracting and retaining members
  4. Relevant Partners/stakeholders
  5. Strategies for Branding
  6. Funding needs and possible development partners

Perhaps the most valuable outcome of the workshop was identification of a local trainer. Dr. Rosemary Tsafack was endorsed as the local trainer for Cameroon. She handled some of the presentations and most of the exercises. Her knowledge of both English and French proved a major asset

Workshop 2 also developed a Work Plan to enhance the Association

    Impact of IFLA/BSLA Programme in Cameroon

    1. The BSLA Programme has greatly enhanced the visibility of the Library profession in Cameroon increased the professional and social profile of the same
    2. The visit of the IFLA President in February 2011 had a major impact on the profession in the country. Her visit greatly increased the visibility of librarians and that of IFLA at the national level
    3. The Executive Committee of 6 members revived during the first workshop is strong and visible and has been embraced by members
    4. The Association now has 25 paid up members and the officials are working hard to increase membership
    5. The Association is more visible and attractive to a wider population of professionals
    6. Relations with stakeholders has been enhanced
    7. Focal points have been established in all the regions of the country and a representative appointed for each focal point. These representatives are making an impact at the regional level
    8. ABADCAM had a successful General Assembly in July 2011. The forum attracted 50 participants
    Report by Jacinta Were, Kenya
    Core trainer, BSLA Cameroon

    LDP (Library Development Programme), Associations, Cameroon, Building Strong Library Associations

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