In January, flash floods hit the Astra Campus of the Bindura University of Science Education in Zimbabwe. They destroyed the science and computer laboratories, lecture halls and staff offices along with the campus library and over 3,000 books – nearly one fifth of its collection.
The library had served around 3,000 students. Many students in Zimbabwe rely heavily on the university libraries for all their reading materials – including textbooks – as they cannot afford to purchase books of their own.
We were contacted by the British Council in Zimbabwe to see if we could help Bindura University. The high cost of medical and science books means that the demand for these materials is almost always greater than we can supply so when Elsevier (part of RELX Group) expanded its support of Book Aid International to include donations from its publishing arm in the United States – with exactly the kind of books Bindura University so desperately needed – we decided the first shipment should go to Zimbabwe.
The books that survived the flooding were transferred from the Astra Campus Library to the Main Campus Library and have been joined by books in higher education, science and healthcare from Elsevier US.
Desks in the Main Campus Library were removed to accommodate shelves for the relocated books, and the use of electronic resources has been promoted in order to minimize the impact the students’ studies. The university’s single remaining library now has to serve all 7,150 students, and it only has seating for 48 because of the extra shelving. The library is therefore temporarily allowing students to borrow titles that were formally reference only, for use in their halls of residence and lecture halls.
The loss of the Astra Campus Library has led Bindura University to invest in the construction of a brand new library at the center of Bindura town. It will serve all five faculties and will be large enough to house 200,000 books (compared with the existing Main Campus Library, which holds 40,000 volumes) and will have seating for over 1,000 students. Building work is expected to be completed by June 2016.
We are proud to work with our partners to support Bindura University of Science Education and ensure its students are working with material which is relevant and up to date.