Recently I had the chance to sit down with three representatives from Book Aid International and discuss the community library situation of Tanzania. Our meeting, over hot pizza 🙂 was a very exciting one. The four of us book lovers barely could touch our pizza as we mauled over our experiences and aspirations pertaining to the library community.
Book Aid does not specialize in community libraries, but libraries in general so it was an enlightening to hear about the amazing libraries and library programs that are going on in public libraries across Tanzania. It sounds to me that there are a select few people across Tanzania who are very passionate and determined, but are not properly trained or funded. Public libraries are funded and overseen under the national government, whereas community libraries are funded and overseen by various NGOs, communities, individuals.
One initiative that I hope to see supported is to develop a community library association to bring together community libraries, in a similar (not identical) fashion as public libraries. Just today I received the latest newsletter from Book Aid International that has graciously brought this initiative to light in a small article. I will post it below 🙂
Many concerned people have been in conversation about the need for a stronger network and available resources for community libraries in Tanzania.
In response to this need, Sarah Switzer, Library Support Worker from the Africa Community Technical Service and Director of the Canadian NGO Under the Reading Tree, along with her colleague Rodgers Shelukindo, Librarian at the Kwekitui Community Library in the Lushoto District of Northern Tanzania, hopes to build a stronger network among community libraries by establishing
an association that is built solely for
• To be a tool used to network all community libraries in Tanzania,
as well as other community
• To arrange workshops that support librarians and educators concerning library related topics.
• To research grants and other
resources (volunteers, books, donations, etc) and make them available to eligible libraries.
• To sensitize and support
development of community
libraries and community learning centres in Tanzania.
This proposed network is building its confidence upon the success of the Uganda Community Libraries Association, with whom they work closely. Sarah and Rodgers would like to hear from all who are interested in working with them on this association and are seeking input on ideas for names of the association, workshop topics, workshop locations, volunteers available, head office locations, grants, further purposes, or anything else you would like to share. Even if you are not connected with a community or public library but have interest in this work you are welcome to be involved. For more information and to share ideas, please contact Sarah at: firstname.lastname@example.org