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Aging Librarians and the Crisis of Succession Planning at Fourah Bay College Library


The problem of succession planning has been mentioned in a number of library fora. The Tutorial Libraries Group did a revealing SWOT evaluation throughout its presentation on the Seminar on Library Capability Constructing Interventions for Achievement of the Millennium Growth Objectives (MDGs) in West Africa on the Erata Lodge, East Legon, Ghana in June 2009. Although a number of strengths had been recognized (together with proper calibre of employees, certified professionals, skilled employees, organised constructions, influential place of College Librarians as a part of prime administration and the provision of formal skilled committees/organisations/associations), a placing weak point amongst eight others was that of the ‘getting older librarians’. The Library at Fourah Bay School (FBC), College of Sierra Leone, shouldn’t be an exception. A big proportion of senior library employees would retire between 2018 & 2026, and solely the implementation of an aggressive succession planning coverage would salvage the vital scenario. It’s believed that Alexander the Nice by no means had a strong succession plan and the bitter consequence was the disintegration of the far-flung empire he struggled to construct.


Succession planning is about changing employees who will finally go away an organisation because of a number of components together with dying, switch, resignation, termination, dismissal, retirement and many others. Based on Blakesley, it “could more and more be seen as simply part of strategic planning processes, as we resolve what have to be achieved and what could be given up, and reallocate, retrain and realign the individuals who stay in our organizations” (2011 p. 34). The Biblical injunction (Paul to Timothy) is apt: “And the issues that thou hast heard of me amongst many witnesses, the identical commit thou to trustworthy males, who shall be capable to educate others additionally.”

(2 Timothy 2:2, King James Model).

Angela Bridgland (1999) opined that individuals and positions must be systematically reviewed to make sure that the strategic plan of an organisation is carried out. Although there’s a lot speak in regards to the “graying of our occupation” (Blakesley, 2011, p. 32), we’re reminded that “it isn’t information that child boomers are reaching retirement age” (Bermes, p. 66). In 2001, through the joint convention organised by the Standing Convention of African College Libraries, Western Space (SCAULWA) and the West African Library Affiliation (WALA) in Accra, Ghana the creator of this text commented on the speedy decline within the variety of skilled librarians in Sierra Leone. The scenario in Fourah Bay School Library is a microcosm of the nationwide downside. {Many professional} librarians within the nation have retired from the occupation. A few of these dynamic personalities or family names embody Mrs. Gladys Jusu-Sheriff, Mrs. Deanna Thomas (late), Mrs. Gloria Dillsworth, Mrs. Olatungie Campbell, Mrs. Marian Lisk, Mr. Victor Coker, Mrs. Alice Malamah-Thomas, Mr. A.N.T. Deen (late), Mrs. Yeama Lucilda Hunter, Mrs. Abator Thomas, Prof. Magnus John and many others. This has left a really extensive hole within the occupation and the present skilled librarians are only a few and much between.


There are three essential classes of employees at FBC Library, specifically, junior, senior supporting and senior.

Senior Employees

Maybe the problem of succession planning could be very vital when one considers the proportion of senior library employees (educational and technical) that will retire throughout the subsequent couple of years. It have to be famous that the retirement age for senior members of employees is sixty-five years.

If 5 out of the seven members of employees (that’s 71.4%) will retire in eight years (between 2018 and 2026), or six (85.8%) will go away the system between 2018 and 2030), the strategic significance of succession planning at Fourah Bay School Library can’t be over emphasised. The present head has a bit of over a decade and a half to set the home so as earlier than his exit, supplied he stays till the top of his personal tenure in 2033 (after a service of forty one years).

The primary to retire in 2018 would have given a complete of forty-four years of service to the School and is presently the pinnacle of the Periodicals Part within the Library. He’s unanimously dubbed ‘the Encyclopaedia of Fourah Bay School Library’.

Maybe, probably the most damaging loss could be the present Ebook Binder whose substitute is now being actively mentioned on the Institute of Library, Data and Communication Research (INSLICS) at Fourah Bay School the place he teaches all of the conservation programs. Who will exchange him when he retires in 2023 after giving forty-five years of service to the Bindery? That’s certainly the query. He has already given twenty years of his profession serving as a Half -Time Lecturer at INSLICS and there’s hardly every other tertiary establishment in Sierra Leone with a useful bindery unit. Not one of the different 9 members of employees within the bindery at Fourah Bay School possess any qualification in conservation. That very same 12 months (2023) would additionally witness the top of forty-five years of service of the pinnacle of one other distinctive part, the Sierra Leone Assortment, which varieties an integral a part of the nationwide bibliography of Sierra Leone. He’s strategically positioned to coach potential librarians throughout his final six years as he’ll graduate with the M.Phil in Library, Archive & Data Research in 2017.

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He can be adopted by the present head of the Cataloguing Division who would have served for thirty 4 years on his retirement in 2025, the identical variety of years the pinnacle of the Subject Desk/Circulation Division would have given when her service ends in 2026.

The dynamism of a senior feminine educational employees is already evident in the truth that she presently deputises the pinnacle of the Cataloguing part and supervises the American Shelf, the place she organises many significant outreach programmes. She might be considered a really dynamic public relations officer who has rather more to contribute in her forty-five years of service that may finish in 2030.

Senior Supporting employees

Employees on this class are due for retirement on the age of sixty. Sadly, this class lacks the corresponding variety of employees to switch those that will finally retire from the senior cadre. The truth is, a male employees is due for retirement on the finish of September this 12 months and he’s presently serving his second 12 months past the age of retirement.

Happily, a feminine employees on this class not too long ago graduated with the M.Phil in Library and Data Science from INSLICS and this employees is presently the President of the Sierra Leone Affiliation of Archivists, Librarians and Data Professionals (SLAALIP) the place she is serving the primary time period, which might finish in 2017. The M.Phil diploma would finally catapult her to the senior educational employees class. A second feminine employees has a lot to supply the Library till 2032. She has accomplished a number of programmes at INSLICS, together with the undergraduate diploma, submit graduate diploma and is presently doing her M.Phil. The chance additionally exists for the Administrative Assistant to pursue a profession in Librarianship. One of many male employees has been recognized as a possible chief as he has already accomplished his postgraduate diploma in Library and Data Research and would enroll for the M.Phil in the identical self-discipline within the 2016/17 session. With two extra a long time within the library, there’s all a definite risk that he might also have a chance to move your entire library. One other feminine employees (an administrative employees) additionally has the choice to pursue a profession in Librarianship and rise to key library positions throughout the subsequent a long time.

Junior employees

The twenty one members of employees on this class type the majority of the library employees. Since a library’s most necessary useful resource is its employees, appreciable assets and vitality have to be concentrated to empower these employees who’re working with little or no certificates. Employees on this class retire on the age of sixty years, giving the library administration a chance to determine those who can be inspired to additional enhance themselves and enter the tertiary establishment. Though these twenty one employees have little or no or no important {qualifications}, the way forward for Fourah Bay School Library squarely lies within the arms of this potential workforce.

A feminine employees is presently enrolled at INSLICS and she or he would hopefully full her Bachelor of Arts with Honours diploma through the 2017/18 session. Upon completion, the anticipated place to be assumed by a feminine employees is Senior Library Assistant and with additional coaching at INSLICS, she’s going to finally transfer to the senior educational cadre. A male employees is presently enrolled in a diploma programme on the Institute of Library, Data and Communication Research, Fourah Bay School and would hopefully graduate on the finish of the 2017/18 educational 12 months. He would finally be upgraded to the Library Assistant place. One other male employees has already gained admission on the Institute of Public Administration and Administration (IPAM) to learn for a bachelor’s diploma in Public Sector Administration. Upon completion, he’ll transfer to the Senior Supporting Class as a Trainee Librarian. Such a place will give him the chance to finally register for a Submit Graduate Diploma in Librarianship course at INSLICS. Sadly, a feminine employees that accomplished the Certificates in Library Research through the 2014/15 session died on nineteenth January 2016.

Eight junior employees will retire within the 2040s and 5 within the 2030s and the service of one other eight will finish between 2019 and 2029. A number of employees have been inspired to take or retake the West African Senior Certificates Examination to qualify them to enroll on diploma programmes at INSLICS or different departments. One other potential employees simply obtained her 5 credit that may allow her acquire acceptance within the College of Sierra Leone.

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1. The Want for Extra Employees to enroll on the Institute of Library, Data & Communication Research

The Institute of Library Research (INSLIBS) was established in 1989 as an arm of the College of Sierra Leone. INSLIBS grew to become part of Fourah Bay School in 2000 when it was merged with the Division of Mass Communication and assumed its new identify, the Institute of Library, Data & Communication Research (INSLICS).

The place of librarian at Fourah Bay School was upgraded from the extent of Senior Lecturer to the extent of Professor at a gathering of the School Council in October 1961 (Jones 1977). This professorial standing was gained through the tenure of the expatriate librarian, Mr. Michael Jollife (1961-1971) after whom the school library was named.

INSLICS presently provides 5 programmes in Library and data Research: Grasp of Philosophy, Submit Graduate Diploma, Bachelor of Arts with honours, Diploma and the Particular Certificates. All educational employees, librarians at Fourah Bay School should make the most of the present programmes supplied on the institute in an effort to speed up their skilled improvement and attain essential positions within the library system.

a. The Masters Diploma/MPhil. in Librarianship

The acquisition of the masters diploma in librarianship shouldn’t be downplayed by librarians if they’re to efficiently climb the skilled ladder within the college library system. Extra librarians possess masters levels in different disciplines apart from librarianship and that is very harmful to the skilled improvement of the libraries throughout the college. These {qualifications} are mandatory in a single’s improvement as knowledgeable librarian since senior librarians within the College of Sierra Leone are educational employees. Moreover, there’s dire want for extra topic librarians throughout the college if the wants of researchers must be met. Nonetheless, this path is hampered when these {qualifications} are obtained with out due consideration to the MA or M.Phil from the Institute of Library, Data and Communication Research (INSLICS) or elsewhere. Two senior members of employees accomplished the M. Phil programme at INSLICS throughout the final six years and two are presently engaged on corrections recognized by their exterior examiners. The Trainee Librarian registered for the MPhil through the 2015/16 session. The skilled improvement of the library can be enhanced if different members of employees are inspired to enroll for skilled library {qualifications}.

b. The Postgraduate Diploma in Librarianship

This above qualification is essential for workers who’re desirous of pursuing librarianship as a profession however with no formal or skilled qualification within the subject. Maybe this path is nevertheless not mandatory for members of employees with the undergraduate diploma in librarianship. Any employees within the college with a primary diploma in one other subject apart from librarianship must be inspired to enroll to acquire this primary skilled qualification.

c. The Undergraduate Diploma in Librarianship

The rationale for the existence of a diploma, post-graduate diploma and masters programmes within the library institute within the early Nineties with out the undergraduate diploma in librarianship continues to be not clear to the researcher, since he passionately believes that it was partly answerable for the stagnation of many library employees throughout the system after the diploma programme. 4 employees members at Fourah Bay School Library have accomplished this programme for the reason that first set graduated in 2004. There may be presently one feminine employees on this programme. Extra must be inspired to pursue this qualification, which might assist them to develop within the system.

d. The Diploma in Librarianship

This programme is designed to coach para-professional employees and has given the chance to those that have labored for a really lengthy interval to be thought-about for the senior supporting place. Extra members of employees must be inspired to register for this crucial para-professional qualification.

e. The Certificates in Librarianship

Although the above programme was discontinued 2000 as a result of scarcity of employees, it has been revamped and is presently been supplied as a Particular Certificates. Some employees from totally different libraries have benefitted from this coaching however extra must be inspired to make the most of this coaching.

2. The introduction of a PhD programme in Librarianship

The significance of a doctoral programme in Librarianship is lengthy overdue and an absolute necessity. There are presently two Affiliate Professors within the College of Sierra Leone, one every on the Institute of Public Administration and Administration (IPAM) and the Institute of Library, Data and Communication Research (INSLICS). The introduction of such a programme at INSLICS would additional improve the capability of employees in your entire college, a chance Fourah Bay School Library employees, amongst others, would make the most of. The Mass Communication division at INSLICS has already launched its doctoral programme with just one Professor.

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3. The necessity to Appoint a College Librarian

There may be have to appoint a College Librarian to co-ordinate library actions throughout the College of Sierra Leone. Such a extremely profiled official would actively signify the library occupation within the College Court docket, a physique the place the voice of the librarian is presently circuitously heard. Just one College Librarian has been formally appointed and she or he left the nation when the rebels attacked the town of Freetown in 1997. She by no means returned to the establishment and there’s an pressing have to appoint one other.

4. Membership {of professional} associations

Skilled library associations are a should for skilled librarians. Many librarians within the College of Sierra Leone are members of the Sierra Leone Affiliation of Archivists, Librarians and Data Professionals (SLAALIP). Nonetheless, membership of worldwide skilled library associations must be inspired. Library employees within the College of Sierra Leone should determine themselves as members of worldwide library associations since such membership enhances skilled improvement. In 2016 for example, Fourah Bay School Library grew to become a member of the African Library and Data Associations & Establishments (AfLIA).

5. Implications of recent Expertise

Librarians are presently on a crossroad and should embrace the brand new expertise to justify their existence on this data age when the gathering administration emphasis shouldn’t be on possession however entry to data. Those that are nonetheless conventional librarians may justifiably be classed underneath the class of Endangered Species. Members of employees should be sure that they don’t seem to be merely laptop literate however laptop proficient and should be capable to disseminate data in any format. Librarians within the College of Sierra Leone usually, and Fourah Bay School specifically, “should pay a tremendously excessive worth in preserving conventional providers and embracing the brand new technological advances” (Harding, 2002, p. 9). The college administration should acknowledge the centrality of its educational nerve centre and equip it accordingly.

6. Growth of library positions

It’s evident that the expansion of the coed inhabitants within the College of Sierra Leone has not seen a corresponding development within the variety of employees. At FBC library specifically, extra members of employees may very well be discovered on the employees checklist within the Nineteen Seventies when the coed inhabitants was about 5 hundred, than the present itemizing, when there are about seven thousand college students.

If members of employees are being inspired to review to arrest the impact of retirement, defection, switch, dying and many others., extra positions must be created in any respect ranges to make sure their upward mobility since promotion relies on a number of components together with {qualifications}, efficiency and availability of established positions.


The continual substitute of employees and management coaching/improvement are essential at Fourah Bay School Library, College of Sierra Leone. With out strategically planning garner assets to equip current employees with the mandatory abilities wanted to fill inevitable gaps, the succession planning will proceed to pose a critical problem in Fourah Bay School Library. Since success with out successor is failure, a significant step in succession planning is to identify vacancies that will probably be accessible, periodically. Moreover, there have to be a strategic consideration of the style wherein these recognized vacancies may very well be stuffed. The implication is then a sensible consideration of the expectations within the job and an identification of the talents exhibited by the present employees to allow administration to tailor coaching actions.


Bermes, Emily Osbun. (2011). “Succession Planning for the Small Enterprise.” Enterprise Folks. 3(2), pp. 60-71.

Blakesley, Elizabeth. (2011). “Planning for the long run: sources to probe for succession planning”. Library Management and Administration. 25(2), pp. 29-36.

Bridgland, Angela. (1999). “To Fill, or The right way to Fill – That’s the Query: Succession Planning and Management Growth in Tutorial Libraries.” Australian Tutorial and Analysis Libraries. 30(1).

Harding, Oliver L.T. (2002). “The African College librarian within the Data Age”. SCAULWA E-newsletter. 3(2), pp. 8-11.

Jones, Eldred. Tribute delivered at a memorial service and requiem mass held for the late Michael Jolliffe on the Sacred Coronary heart Cathedral, Freetown, on Wednesday, twenty second June, 1977.