Benefits of crowdsourcing for libraries: A case study from Africa

Abstract

Many libraries in the Global South do not collect comprehensive data about themselves, which creates challenges in terms of local and international visibility. Crowdsourcing is an effective tool that engages the public to collect missing data, and it has proven to be particularly valuable in countries in which governments collect little public data. Whereas crowdsourcing is often used within fields that have high levels of development funding such as health, we believe that this approach would have many benefits for the library field as well. We present qualitative and quantitative evidence from twenty-three African countries involved in a crowdsourcing project to map libraries. We find benefits in terms of increased connections between stakeholders, capacity-building, and increased local visibility. These findings demonstrate the potential of crowdsourced approaches for tasks such as mapping to benefit libraries and similarly positioned institutions in the Global South in multifaceted ways.

Recommended Citation

Lynch, R., Young, J.C., Boakye-Achampong, S., Jowaisas, C., Sam, J., & Norlander, B. Benefits of crowdsourcing for libraries: A case study from Africa. IFLA Journal. September 2020. Doi:10.1177/0340035220944940

Keywords

Crowdsourcing, Mapping, Capacity building, Data gaps, Africa, Public libraries