“Reinforcing libraries and sharing information is the responsibility of everyone” Mr. Kiflom Michael
Located near the Fiat Tagliero, the Rora Digital Library Center and the Libraries and Information Association of Eritrea. Under are important national institutions. One of their main functions has been to make traditional and digital library resources accessible nationwide.
Mr. Kiflom Michael is the Director General of the Rora Digital Library and President of the Association. After graduating in English from the University of Asmara, Mr. Kiflom obtained his MA in Economics. He has devoted his time and experience toward improving the Rora Digital Library and establishing it as a hub for young readers. Amaresh Tsegay of Haddas Eritrea recently spoke to him.
- -First, what are the principles on which the Libraries and Information Association was founded upon?
It was originally formed in the year 2000 by professionals interested in research and documentation. The objective behind its formation was to assemble professionals in the same field and to work jointly for enhanced results. From early on, the Association aimed to gather authentic information from the people and to disseminate it across society. The Association explored the best ways and methods of doing so and it has been working on it ever since.
- -How does the Association function?
We have four lines. The Association supervises four kinds of libraries nationwide: community libraries, public libraries, academic libraries,and specific libraries for ministries, corporations, firms, and companies. Each library is categorized by its functions and the books it holds. Moreover, the Association helps to train archival professionals and librarians by providing courses and training workshops.
The Association is guided by a constitution. Its constitution was drafted in 2000, when the Association was first established.In 2007 the constitution was revised. It was also revised earlier this year. We work under the umbrella of the Ministry of Education. Accordingly, all of our undertakings are regulated by the ministry.
- -Which segment of society benefits most from the Association and its activities?
I would say professionals employed within different occupations. Many of our customers and visitors are focused on self-development and improvement. Therefore, they visit libraries to upgrade their skills and knowledge related to their profession. Then again, however,we should not forget that the entire society, in general, benefits from libraries.In this regard, I believe that the Association actually benefits the whole society.
- -You have mentioned how the Association provides training programs and courses for its members. Can you elaborate a little?
Most of our members and recruits are professional librarians. But the Association welcomes professionals from other fields and from service providing centers. For example, the Nyala Hotel is a member of the Association. If you ask me why, I would say that the reason is to encourage the formation of mini reading centers in recreational centers. We try to encourage the establishment of small libraries outside of the official libraries. This will mean that people can have access to traditional and digital libraries wherever they go. The digitalization of libraries makes our strategies attainable as people can access materials on the net from their devices, regardless of where they are.We even have beauty salons and other service providers in the Association. Furthermore, a large number of secondary schools, correctional facilities, rehabilitation centers, and the libraries of several ministries are members of our Association.
In order to support all of this, the Association provides training programs and courses to staff and groups in all of the places I mentioned above. Besides offering continuous training to upgrade the knowledge and skills of its members and staff, the Association provides various maintenance and upkeep services (such as hardware installation and network or WIFI services).
- -How do you generate your income?
We have sponsors, such as the Denmark Eritrean Network and others, who contribute resources (such as PCs) and finances. Most of our income, however, comes from registration for membership and the installation and maintenance services that we provide. However, keep in mind that we do not work only for the business side of it. The income we generate is often reinvested into opening new libraries and digital library centers. We are also highly interested in encouraging community libraries so part of our income is invested in awarding exemplary libraries and assisting them in various ways.
- -Is the general public aware of the Association and it activities?
Honestly, no. The public’s knowledge about our endeavors and activities is limited. We conducted a study to find out why and we are working on it. In order to address this, new libraries have been and are being built in highly-populated areas. As a first step, in fact, we have recently opened some public libraries in the town of Tessenei, which is densely populated. Visit our website erlia.org for more information out us and our activities.
- -What are some of your recent achievements?
We have drafted our plans and outlined our visions. We have allocated our finances and updated our database software. Last, but not least, we have also designed and begun working on workshops and training programs for our members and staff.
- -Anything you want to say before we end today’s Q&A?
I want to remind the public that information is the core of growth. We should always contribute to reinforcing our libraries and that is the responsibility of everyone.
- -Thank you!
Thank you for having me.