Libraries Thrive with E-Books
By Sarah Jaffe
While we celebrate the life-changing power of books everyday at Worldreader, today is extra special. Why? Because we’ve just released a new, ground-breaking report that shows the effects of digital books in libraries!
At the start of 2014 Worldreader embarked on an ambitious partnership with the Kenya National Library Service (KNLS), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and eight public and community libraries in Western Kenya. The goal was to launch a pilot program to better understand how e-readers could be leveraged to increase patronage, access to technology, and the number and diversity of books across African libraries. Project LEAP, which stands for “Libraries, E-reading, Activities, Partnership” deployed 200 e-readers with a total of 45,000 books to the selected pilot libraries in Western Kenya. The project also included extensive training, and community outreach conducted by the participant libraries, in order to engage the community with the new technology.
The results from this pilot were better than any of us could have predicted, as presented in this final report for LEAP. As Richard Atuti, Director of KNLS states in the report’s foreword, “Project LEAP is the first ICT project that has successfully incorporated a wide variety of Kenyan, African, and international books, that has been rigorously evaluated for effectiveness, and has widened KNLS’ access and brought libraries to the center of communities.”
The final results outlined in this report show that:
- Monthly library visits nearly tripled across the pilot sites
- 20,000+ patrons were reached through e-reader training
- 254 library-initiated community events were held
- 84% of patrons reported reading more
Furthermore, the report includes cost analyses which suggest that the same benefits and results outlined above can be attained in future library digital reading programs at a cost of $8-$15 per person.
Building off these results, Worldreader will continue to partner with KNLS to expand Project LEAP into other Kenyan libraries. Moreover, in the coming years we hope to build partnerships with other library systems across sub-Saharan Africa to continue to increase the impact of digital books across the continent. This final report represents the very beginning of a reading revolution in Africa’s libraries, and we think the future looks bright.
To help Worldreader get even more digital books to libraries, schools and individuals all over the world, contribute today!