National Scale Project Turns Kenyan Libraries into Digital Hubs
July 31, 2018 By Selena Garrahan
By Rebecca Chandler Leege, Chief Impact Officer, Worldreader
Just last week we received a note from a man named Michael Kazungu in Kenya. Michael is the Head Librarian at knls Kwale Library. As part of LEAP 2.0 the library received a batch of e-readers in February 2017 and since then Michael has been incredibly busy bringing these books to readers across his community. Here’s what Michael said in his note: “a noble idea will always be supported by like-minded individuals. You gave us the way and we followed, you mobilized resources to implement your ideas. Change doesn’t come in a day, it is a process. I am part of that process of making sure that reading reaches out to every corner of this world. Your idea has changed individuals like me, it has changed institutions like the Kenya National Library, it has changed school performance like redeemed Academy in Kwale-Ukunda. It changed communities; where I am standing today as a librarian is not where I stood in 2016 before the e-reading program with Worldreader. I have a lot to say, but let me say thank you.”
It is with great pleasure that we are sharing the final report for the LEAP initiative, highlighting our partnership with the Kenya National Library Service to bring digital reading to all public libraries in Kenya, and empower librarians like Michael to be change-makers in their community. LEAP is a monumental accomplishment and shows what the pairing of innovative education technology and a motivated library system can do to transform the reading culture of communities across Kenya.
So far, LEAP 2.0 has been an incredible journey. And we’re just getting started. We’ve learned so much along the way and look forward to enhancing our learnings so that LEAP can serve as a model that can easily be replicated by any library in Africa and beyond.
We’d like to also take this opportunity to thank all knls executive team members and staff for their dedication and work. This program has been successful thanks to the willingness, drive, and passion of all the knls members across Kenya. Libraries are pillars of communities. And with the right tools and support, these same libraries and the heroes working within them can serve as hubs for innovation, learning, and progress. We feel lucky to be part of this change in Kenya in partnership with knls and look forward to what the future will bring.
Keep reading to get an insightful summary of our LEAP 2.0 project as written by Joan Mwachi-Amolo, Worldreader’s East Africa Director in the LEAP report.
by Joan Mwachi-Amolo, East Africa Director, Worldreader
Worldreader began our partnership with the Kenya National Library Service in 2014 with a shared vision of empowering Kenyan libraries as hubs of information and technology.
Armed with a library of digital books, cost-effective and portable electronic reading devices, and dedicated library staff, Worldreader and knls launched a pilot program in eight libraries to test the feasibility of a national digital reading project in Kenyan libraries. The positive results and impact of this pilot, LEAP (Libraries, E-Reading, Activities, and Partnerships), led us to grow our collaborative partnership with knls, and scale the digital reading project nationwide with LEAP 2.0 from 2016-2017. This was the first program to be implemented in all of knls’ public libraries, and a huge step forward for knls, as part of the country’s master plan, Kenya’s Vision 2030.
Both LEAP and LEAP 2.0, which brought digital reading to 61 knls public libraries, were built on the premise that libraries are part and parcel of a knowledge economy, and cornerstones of information in the community. Worldreader and knls strongly believed that in order to move the needle on Kenya’s national ICT strategy, and catapult Kenya to a new level of digital access and information sharing, it was necessary to harness and enhance the power of libraries. With access to thousands of new reading materials and innovative digital reading technology, often brought outside of the library walls during outreach activities, communities developed and improved upon digital literacy in ways that would not have been possible before. The new technology was exciting, helping librarians to market their library services, motivating librarians in their roles, and building the capacity of the library system as a whole.
Worldreader is proud of the success and impact of the LEAP 2.0 project, and of knls’ dedication to its libraries, librarians, and patrons. The project showcases the benefits of a strong and collaborative government partner responsive to the Public, Private Partnership Strategy encapsulated in Vision 2030, and access to knowledge and technology. We look forward to a continued partnership with knls, and the future and sustainability of the LEAP 2.0 project in Kenya under knls’ full management and expertise. In the coming years, Worldreader plans to iterate upon the lessons of LEAP 2.0 and our knls partnership, to launch nationwide library digital reading projects in new geographies. We are excited to see the continued impact, on individuals, communities, and countries, of digital reading.
If you’re interested in understanding more about how we plan to scale our work with libraries and how you can get involved with our Reading for Opportunity campaign, get in touch with us.