Data challenges for public libraries: African perspectives and the social context of knowledge


This article sheds light on the collection and use of data by libraries in sixteen countries across Africa. It highlights the challenges that librarians and library organizations face in gathering, analyzing, and presenting data of various types for self-advocacy. In this study, qualitative data from a meeting of library representatives was analyzed to identify main challenges including: data integrity in terms of completeness, accuracy, credibility, and relevancy; infrastructure; capacity; local investment in libraries; time; and participation of data collectors and respondents. Implications for those collecting data on African libraries as well as those supporting the use of data in these contexts are discussed. The purpose of this paper is not to feed into representations of African libraries as chronically under-resourced and lacking in capacity, but rather, to constructively engage with first-hand accounts of how librarians are experiencing and navigating barriers in order to offer potential avenues forward for the field.

Quick Facts


Publication Type

  • Academic Journal
  • Journal Article

Publication Date

  • 2020