Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version


Document Type



Plockey, Florence Dedzoe-Dzokotoe and Ahamed, Baba Alaa-Bany (2016). “Decolonizing Our Library System: The Living Librarians (Baansi) of Dagbon, Northern Ghana” Library Philosophy and Practice (e-journal).


The living librarians of Dagbon are knowledge producers who commit the history of Dagbon into memory and recount it from generation to generation. This study used various instruments such as in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, observations, storytelling, phased assertion, documents’ analysis, field notes, historical profiling, and acoustic appreciation to explore the living librarian of Dagbon in Northern Ghana. The data was collected from June 2013 to August 2014. The study revealed that there were various forms of livings libraries (baansi) also known as court musicians but most of the categories are now extinct. However, the most recognized and important ones that run through them all are the lunsi, the Akarima and the goonje. The akarima, goonje and lunsi, are part and perhaps the most active and vibrant group of Dagbon cultural knowledge, history and musical art. Hence they form the community of knowledge producers and managers; as a result, people call them living libraries or moving encyclopedias. This revelation presupposes that knowledge does not only exist only in books or in brick and motor edifices like modern libraries, for libraries are also defined as “repositories of knowledge’ and the Baansi’s of Dagbon also known as living libraries or the indigenous communities are not left out because they have a vast pool of knowledge to be tap.