Contrary to what many movies portray, it is pretty cool to be a ‘geek’ or ‘nerd’— basically people whose interests always take precedence over popularity or conformity— driven more by learning and technology. Damilare Oyedele, a library advocate or ‘librarypreneur’, is driven by a passion for programme development and management. Libraries, mostly known to be buildings with lots of books, have made adjustments with technology, hence the many online adaptations. 27-year-old Oyedele, through ‘Library Aid Africa’, leads a team of passionate young people and collaborates with partners in over eight African countries to harness digital technologies and citizen engagement approaches to solve global library challenges. Asked what steered him in this direction, the Master Card Foundation scholar currently studying Global Challenges, says circumstances growing up. “I grew up in a peri-urban community in Ibadan, south west of Nigeria, where I had nursery, primary and secondary school education. The schools I attended never had a library. This denied me access to literature and the ability to use information independently. As a result, my reading culture was poor and I could not communicate fluently. This presented me with numerous challenges, including an inability to pass the national transition examination twice consecutively because of the lack of access to reading materials,” Oyedele, a student at African Leadership University, says. As a result, he wanted to ensure that those who came after him did not have their life plans derailed in the same way. “At the age of 19, I started to mobilise my friends as volunteers to work towards community library projects. We commenced by writing articles in Nigerian daily newspapers about the importance of libraries in our society. This initiative later grew into a not-for-profit organisation called ‘Library Aid Africa’ which I now head as co-founder and Chief Executive,” he says. “For the past three years, we have focused on advocacy and also support for the resuscitation of libraries in schools and communities – leveraging digital technology and citizen engagement approaches to drive projects and policy reforms for libraries in Africa. “We concentrate on three major areas; library technology innovation, library policy and advocacy, library innovation co-creation, and community engagement. We are developing ‘Library Tracker’ in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Nigeria, a web application that collects and provides essential information about libraries, such as location, opening hours, services, capacity, and available resources, bringing libraries closer to the people by leveraging digital technology,” he adds. They decided to pilot this project across six states in Nigeria as the first of its kind in order to document learnings for a full-scale process with their in-country partners in Africa. “The Young African Library Leaders Fellowship is an annual capacity development programme that nurtures and develops innovative young library leaders across Africa as part of efforts to develop young, vibrant library leaders. With #YALLF2021, we are currently launching the second cohort,” he says. They have 15 young library leaders from Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Republic of Benin, Zambia, Malawi, and South Africa. These young library leaders will be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to meet the information needs of their communities and contribute meaningfully to the achievement of Africa’s long-term development goals, he says. “This entails a lot of responsibilities, obstacles, disappointments, sleepless nights, failures, very few wins, commitment, and consistency, but also possibilities and hope for a better future. We have leveraged partnerships and collaborations on our programmes over time. I aspire to create user-centered solutions that will enable everyone to have equal access to library services,” he says.