Tomorrow, I will travel to Peru for the third BSLA review meeting. I’m looking forward to hearing what they’ve been up to (a lot!) and sharing what’s already come out of Botswana and Cameroon. One of the best things about this project has been how enthusiastically everyone has embraced working with colleagues in their own region, and across the world when we meet. I’m sorry to say it, but far, far too often at home I encounter that all-too-familiar syndrome: Not Invented Here. Every country, organisation, and many individuals want to put their own stamp on the profession, which is great, but at the same time that can lead to a lot of reinventing of the wheel and ignorance of resources that already exist. I’ll list just one institutional obvious example: study guides. I’ve been guilty of this too. Research, statistics, standards and training materials are other resources that also tend to be rewritten frequently. There is a barrier of research to practice. One way we’ve tried to help with that is by distilling research into practical case studies.

In countries with few resources, there’s a tendency by many librarians to work smarter, across borders and regions to get the information, specialists, and advice that’s needed to develop the profession and library services. A librarian may travel to Cameroon from Senegal to train on digitisation. A librarian in Cameroon may go to Angola to advise on LIS curricula. Regional associations provide a common meeting place. Certainly, it would be preferable to have enough resources in the country itself, and replicating projects is never so simple as just running the same thing again in a different place.

The recognition of the necessity to work together, across borders and sectors, building on where you are and what you already have, is something that we could all gain from.

Originally published on the blog