Data for advocacy: A Survey of data practices in African library systems


African libraries are drivers of development in their countries. However, many of these libraries struggle to use data for self-advocacy in order to gain wider support from government bodies, development organizations, and other stakeholders. The University of Washington Technology & Social Change Group (TASCHA) and African Library & Information Associations & Institutions (AfLIA) conducted a survey of African library systems to examine their current data collection practices, data use cases, and data needs. This report summarizes findings from the survey including what data is collected by library organizations; how the data is used; how data is shared; how data is involved in decision making; and the experience of data collection. 29 responses from 19 African countries were analyzed to highlight major themes and suggest possible next steps for TASCHA and AfLIA to continue to support the data efforts of African libraries. The findings indicate that library systems value data and collect it purposefully for a variety of reasons, and most respondents collect operational and user data. Responses suggest that more training and support is needed in data analysis and dissemination as well as general ICT use. These interventions can foster library system agency with and through data.

Recommended Citation

Lynch, R., Jowaisas, C., Boakye-Achampong, S., Young, J.C., Sam, J., & Norlander, B. (2021). Data for advocacy: A Survey of data practices in African library systems. Seattle: Technology & Social Change Group, University of Washington Information School.


public libraries, Africa, data, data collection, international development, partnership