In 2017, British-Ghanaian writer Sylvia Arthur moved to Ghana after living and working in the United Kingdom for a long time. Being a curator and lover of books, her passion led her to start a private library facility in the capital Accra with about 1,300 books of her own which she had planned to use to provide reading access to the local people; with majority of the collection authored by writers of African descent.
Initially known as Libreria Ghana, it was rebranded to The Library of Africa and The African Diaspora (LOATAD) in 2020 to reflect its core mandate after it was officially opened to the public. The library is made up of an extensive collection of rare and out-of-print books by writers from almost all African countries and from the diaspora. Currently, it boasts of over 4000 works of literature dating as far back as the early 20th century to modern day.
The transformative Library of Africa and The African Diaspora considers itself as a “private library with a public mission.” It started as a single room office, but has grown to include a screening room, a special collection and archive room, a private residential facility and an outdoor event space. It is conveniently located in West Legon, a serene suburb of Ghana’s capital Accra; and is fifteen minutes away from the country’s Kotoka International Airport and ten minutes from the University of Ghana.
In addition to encouraging reading out of academia, its mission is to bridge the literacy challenge gap being faced across the country and the African continent by providing accessible reading materials. The Library of Africa and The African Diaspora also offers an inclusive space to people from all walks of life irrespective of their age, gender, religion or disability. It prides itself in being an African, decolonized, activist and knowledge producing library.
Annual membership is open at affordable rates to Children, Adults, and Seniors (65 Years and above).
Quoting directly from LOATAD’s website, its work is focused on three main areas:
- “Knowledge Production: Creating knowledge using African and Diaspora literature as a stimulus for the development of ideas. We’re working on a number of projects, from research to oral storytelling, that add to the knowledge base of African literature.
- Knowledge Preservation: Preserving the work and ephemera of African and Diaspora writers across generations through our physical and digital archives.
- Knowledge Dissemination: Getting books and the knowledge they contain out to the people through our expanded library, and continuing outreach and community education.”
Since its inception, the Library of Africa and The African Diaspora has been supporting several communities based on its literacy drive through initiatives such as ‘Little Libreria’, ‘Book Drop Ghana’, and ‘Library Laughs Scholarship’. It has partnered with like-minded institutions and individuals in providing some of these programmes to the benefit of society.
The extensive outdoor space at the facility also hosts events periodically. Upcoming events include Outspoken, a contemporary spoken word and poetry program and Music That Matters, a wordplay and cultural storytelling music session.
Invitations are welcome to apply for the “Writing Residency”, an inhouse self-directed program that offers literacy enthusiasts the opportunity to connect to the cultural scene and also participate in literacy workshops, mentorships and other events offered at LOATAD. The Residency program lasts for four weeks and runs throughout the year except in the months of December to January and July to August.
For more information and enquiries about the Library of Africa and The African Diaspora, kindly contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Theresa R. Fianko
Source: LOATAD Website