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The Literacy Ledger Reflections, findings, stories and the lowdown

Learnings From Libraries: Our Midterm LEAP Report

September 29, 2014 By

Kakamega Library in Kenya with Worldreader E-Readers

At Worldreader, our staff is full of avid library fans. Many of us spent our childhood days in local libraries, thumbing through well-worn pages of soon-to-be favorite books, searching through card catalogs to find the newest installments of The Boxcar Children or Sweet Valley High. Some of us even remember how the Dewey Decimal system works.

In short, we love libraries. That’s why we are so excited about what’s been happening in public and community libraries in Western Kenya the past few months as a part of Project LEAP —which stands for “Libraries, E-reading, Activities and Partnership.”

Here are some basic details on Project LEAP:

  • Project duration: March – December 2014 (9 months)
  • Funding partner: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • By the numbers: 200 e-readers across eight libraries, for a total of over 40,000 books

Today, we’re excited to share our midterm report on the project with you. The report builds off the baseline and outlines lessons learned, qualitative findings, and early thoughts on scaling-up the program throughout Kenya and sub-Saharan Africa.

Here are some highlights:

  • Broad Reach: Frequent community outreach has led to a much broader impact than previously anticipated (early estimates indicate 10,000 people or more!).
  • Increased Library Visits: Library patronage has increased by 66% between the eight libraries, with thousands more patrons visiting the libraries each month.
  • More Durable Devices: In this first project using the Kindle Paperwhite, e-reader breakage and loss rates have been very low (just 1% of the devices).

You can read the full Project LEAP report HERE for all of the details. A final report on the pilot will be available by March 2015. That report will focus on overall impact, quantitative results, and further details on scale-up.

Since a picture tells a thousand words, I’ll leave you with one from Kakamega National Library.

Project LEAP studying the use of e-readers in Kenyan Libraries

The photo shows the LEAP e-reader program being advertised among the library’s shelves of paper books. See if you can spot the titles of the books — you may not find any Sweet Valley High here, but I can guarantee you that the kids using LEAP e-readers find Grandmother’s Winning Smile and Beem Explores Africa equally mesmerizing. Here’s to extending access to the life-changing power of libraries to more children and adults in Kenya!