Building a reading culture within the community

Towards the end of the 2016 school year, the library committee asked students, staff and faculty to borrow, read and review a minimum of five books over the summer, as part of the maiden Library reading challenge. The institute-wide initiative is one of the ways the Ashesi Library committee is working towards fostering a reading culture within the Ashesi community.

“The idea was to try to get people to read beyond their textbooks,” said Nina Chachu, Head Librarian at Ashesi. “There’ve been several studies to show that the more you read the more there’s a positive impact on your vocabulary and your writing. The Library Committee is also supportive of widening people’s horizons and reading is one of those ways of doing it.”

Over the years, Ashesi has expanded its library, offering a diverse sampling of genres in its collection. In addition to its 27,000 volumes, the Todd and Ruth Warren library also subscribes to a variety of international and local magazines, newspapers, and research publications.

For most students, however, reading anything beyond textbooks and assignments is a painful chore — a needless stretch beyond their academic work.

“I know reading is good; it improves my vocabulary, my sentence structure and all that, but I’d rather watch a movie,” explained senior, Youssouf da Silva ’17 “With a book, it’s impossible to know how long it will take compared to a movie which will takes a fixed amount of time. Even if it’s just for fun, regular books sometimes feel academic.”

To help the deepen a reading culture, members of staff make cases for why reading is important and share tips on how students can build the habit

“Start small, find what you’re interested in. Short stories, and also sometimes things like Twitterfiction can be useful. Those may be some of the ways of doing it. And a realization that you’re not stuck to a physical book, but that you read using different media now helps out as well.” — Nina Chachu, Head Librarian

“You don’t necessarily have to take a physical book to read — most materials are in electronic forms these days. One doesn’t need to have a particular genre to stick to, I read just about anything that I find interesting.” - Samuel Anagbo, Customer Service Assistant.

“I think when you’re in school you have a lot of time to read versus when you’re in the working world and you have to commute. Reading makes you open minded, makes you see perspectives that otherwise might not be caught when you all you do is studying. When studying your faculties are tuned more towards passing a grade. However, if you want to know what’s going on in the world, it’s important to read all kinds of books.

Reading should not be about volume or number of pages. It’s just about taking something of interest and reading.” — Eleanora Anku-Tsede, Associate Director, Academic Registry

“It’s very difficult trying to maintain a reading habit once you leave school. However, once it’s a habit, it is easier to keep reading. While I don’t necessarily have a strong reading habit, I make it a point to read as often as possible.” — Emmanuel Ntow, Registry Officer

“Needless to say, reading is highly important, and reading widely is even more beneficial. Not just academic books, but it’s important that students explore their interests to read and broaden one’s horizon and imagination.” — Dinah Baidoo, Assistant Librarian.

“Reading takes you to places you can only go with your imagination. Against the background of a poor reading culture in Ghana, we have to be intentional about taking steps such as starting up reading clinics and clubs to get people to read.”-Enoch Agonyo, Library Assistant.

“I think we all need to be more aware of that our smart phones are eating into our reading culture — it’s so much easier to pick up the phone than a book these days.

Books can’t win from electronics, so if in JSS or at home, you didn’t have a culture preceding electronics, then it will be tricky. For most people, they will have to limit their phone interaction time to a certain minimum and use the rest of the time for reading.” — Ruth Kwakwa, Dean of Students and Community Engagement.