Book Havens Kenya final evaluation
Between September 2016 and December 2017 our Book Havens project was implemented in three libraries in the Mathare and Kibera slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Working in partnership with the Kenya National Library Service (knls) and Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA), the project aimed to create peaceful and welcoming spaces filled with brand new children’s books for the most marginalised children to enjoy reading. This paper presents our findings.
Too many children in Africa and around the world are growing up in a world without books. They live in families where parents are struggling even to put food on the table, so buying books is simply not possible. Schools rarely have reading books and pupils must share a textbook between up to 14 pupils. Without access to books, children may never have the chance to expand their horizons through education.
Where governments are unable to provide the resources and services that communities need to enrich young readers’ lives, many have come together to create their own libraries. Community libraries have the potential to offer a vital haven where children can discover books, but they are almost always run by volunteers or staff who have no formal librarian training and few have the funds to buy books. As a result, librarians often find it difficult to provide effective support for young readers.
Our Book Havens project with knls and MYSA, aims to meet this need by creating spaces in community libraries where children’s reading and learning can flourish. In each library, we offer:
- Training in how to support, engage and inspire young readers
- Funds to refurbish the library’s space to ensure it is welcoming and child-friendly
- A grant to purchase locally published books which reflect children’s own experiences and may be in local languages
Key findings from the Book Havens project
– Increased use of the library by local children in their own time
More children are visiting the libraries more frequently as a result of the availability of brand new books. There has also been an increase in the number of books that children are borrowing to read both in the library and at home.
– Improved library services
As a result of the training, librarians are more confident in running their libraries, working with children and are now offering a wider range of reading activities for children.
– Increased school outreach
Librarians are now also running more outreach to local schools, with an increased number of visits to schools. They are also receiving more school groups into the library for reading activities.