Bibliographic control of publications: the impact on African countries.

Author:Igbashal, Anthony Agena


The African continent is full of oral and written culture being published and preserved by her people, not only for posterity but also for academics, students, and the larger bibliographic communities. That information is generated on the face of African continent on daily bases is not in doubt as printing and publishing have flourished the continent, thus becoming the order of the day. Libraries and information centers are expected to acquire and ensure bibliographic recording and make available on request all that is written, printed and published. Bibliographic control has become a major determinant of book accessibility and utilization and a key factor in information search, delivery and dissemination.

The bibliographic control project is very important, fundamental, and indispensable in Africa. Fourie and Burger (2007) have observed that countries like South Africa have put forward efforts currently unmatchable by any African country. The fact that a book is recorded in the library, internet, or the information centre is enough to give hope to the needful potential user that it may be possible to access and use it. Information materials like books, journals, manuscripts, theses, dissertations, magazines, newspapers and a host of others are written, printed, and published on African continent. As time goes on, precise bibliographic information about these materials begin to disappear from the minds of many but on the other hand, some researchers may seek them with tears to access and utilize them; thus, the importance of bibliographic control and that of the library services become glaringly indispensable. To facilitate accessibility, the bibliographic compilation must be in a particular pertain which must be systematic to accommodate essential bibliographic elements which could enable a potential user to decide to trace it when in need. This calls for a pattern of effective recording and arrangement which result from systematic listing of the records of human communication. One current type of bibliography, according to World Book Encyclopedia (2002) presents a systematic description of books as well as listing them, summarizing what each book is about as well as its currency, binding, publisher and its value.

Bibliographic Control in Africa

Bibliographic control activities have generally developed in Africa randomly over the years. A few African countries are lucky to have gotten retrospective national bibliographies before 1940, and it was individuals who made personal effort to compile national bibliographies for these countries.

According to Musiker (2005) Mendelssohn's South African Bibliography was published in 1910 making South Africa the first African country to have a national bibliography. This was the conceit effort made by South African Librarians towards the attainment of Universal Bibliographic Control (UBC)

According to Aje (1977:16 (3), Sierra Leone was the next African country to have a national bibliography. It was compiled by Sir Harry Charles Luke and published in 1925. H.C. Luke was a colonial secretary for Sierra Leone and apparently had searched important libraries in London and the secretariat library in Freetown and came out with his work entitled "A Bibliography of Sierra Leone"

Cardinell (Aje 1977) created a national retrospective bibliography for Ghana that was published 1932. Sources of his information are said to be 19th century work was pioneered by the Basel mission who set up printing and publishing enterprise in the field of religious publications. On the government side where activities commenced earlier than the Basel Mission, Cardinell recorded that Government Printing Press started functioning after 1875, producing government gazettes and reports. Thus, the first listing of government publication was part of the colonial report on the Gold Coast. All these were precursors of the monumental work produced by A.W. Cardinell.

Beaudiquez (1977: 99) also named Burundi as another country with retrospective national bibliography compiled by individual effort. Daniel Nyambarize compiled a bibliography that was a list of publications, research reports ,and periodicals published between 1959 and 1973 and held in Burundi National Library.

Beaudiquez (1977: 419) states further that Benin Republic has a retrospective national bibliography compiled by Guillaume Da Silva. Other African countries with retrospective national bibliographies include Chad (1968); Guinea (1964); Ivory Coast (1972-1974); Libya (1951-1971); Madagascar (1952); Morocco (1970); South Africa (1910), and Zambia (no date). These retrospective bibliographies are attempts to compile all the works published in these individual countries. These show a great progress made in the development of Africa's...

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