Tag Archives: digital

Unguja Children's Corner Zanzibar

Digital Connections Children’s Corners

The Digital Connections Children’s Corners project took place in Tanzania and Zanzibar from 2017 to 2018 in partnership with the Tanzania Library Services Board (TLSB) and the Zanzibar Library Service (ZLS).

The project aimed to enhance children’s library services in selected libraries in Tanzania and Zanzibar. A total of nine TLSB libraries and two ZLS libraries took part. Of these, five TLBS and two ZLS libraries created new Children’s Corners – child-friendly library spaces. The remaining five TLSB libraries which already had Children’s Corners implemented a digital component, introducing Kio Kit tablets to use alongside printed books.

Two evaluations were undertaken to look at the findings and recommendations from the project. One evaluation focused on the Children’s Corners sites which you can read here and the other looked at the Kio Kit sites which you can read here.

Key findings

  • Increased library use by children

Both the libraries with new Children’s Corners and those which have introduced Kio Kit tablets have seen an increase in children using the libraries and borrowing of printed books to read at home.

  • Librarians’s skills have increased

Librarians in libraries with new Children’s Corners report that as a result of the progamme training, their skills now extend far beyond issuing and shelving books. They now lead reading and other activities with the children.

Librarians working in those libraries which received Kio Kits now have the skills to introduce children to tablets and lead a range of individual and group activities using the devices.

  • Schools are also benefitting from the new reading materials

Local schools are bringing their classes to use the new Children’s Corners during the daytime to take part in reading activities. The Children’s Corners are proving so popular that libraries are having to ask schools to bring pupils at a scheduled time each week to avoid overcrowding.

Some of those libraries with Kio Kits are taking them out to local schools for pupils to use in class while others are running activities for classes to attend in the library during the school day.

Digital Connections Children’s Corners is generously funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. We would like to thank them for their ongoing support.

Digital workshop

Inspiring young readers through digital and printed resources

Today we have published our Learning Paper on the Children’s Books and E-Learning Pilot Project we recently ran in Kenya. The Learning Paper outlines what we found from a two year digital pilot project in Kenyan children’s libraries. You can download the full paper here and you can watch a short film that the children made themselves. 

From 2013 to 2015 we ran a pilot project in partnership with Kenya National Library Service to test out the effectiveness of tablets and e-readers in children’s libraries. The Children’s Books and E-Learning Pilot Project involved providing tablets and e-readers to five libraries in Kenya with previously established Children’s Corners. We also provided new books to these libraries to explore how digital and print content works together in children’s libraries. While our projects have always centred around the printed book, we wanted to explore how providing digital books and printed books together could potentially reach more children or encourage children to use the library more frequently.

We worked with our partner Kenya National Library Service (knls) to select five libraries which would become ‘digital sites.’ Along with a collection of brand new books we also provided tablets and e-readers as well as specialist digital training for librarians. Some of the librarians had never used a tablet or e-reader themselves so it was important to offer this training so they in turn could help their young users. We also provided brand new books to a further 18 libraries in Kenya and helped them to develop their children’s services. By doing this we not only increased the reach of the project but could compare how libraries with digital resources performed against those without.

Reports from the digital project have been very promising. All five digital sites increased their numbers of children visiting and becoming members. The tablets and e-readers created a sense of excitement in communities that had little digital access previously and children were keen to try out the new technology. Games and activities on the tablets in particular helped children who are less confident readers to engage with reading and the library environment. The outreach activities that librarians have run as a result of their training have increased the number of children visiting the libraries as well as the number of members. Schools have been encouraged to visit the libraries with their students and to run ‘tab sessions’ in which children become familiar with the new technology and explore its potential. Children are developing their reading skills alongside their digital aptitude.

This doesn’t mean that introducing digital resources in libraries comes without its challenges though! Unreliable internet connections in some libraries presented real issues, although knls did ensure internet connectivity in Isiolo library, which had previously had none. The tablets and e-readers we provide are preloaded with educational content but there are challenges around how further titles would be purchased.

One area where we expected challenges was around protecting the technology itself. We had originally planned for three digital sites to cover loss or breakage and we were delighted to be able to expand this to a further two after the first year of the project saw no damage or loss whatsoever to the e-readers and tablets. This is largely due to training of librarians and children on the security and care for the e-readers and tablets.

The project was monitored with interest as this was the first time we had provided digital resources to libraries. It’s clear that children are attracted to the technology and that new methods of encouraging children to read can be very effective. Although all the libraries involved in the project saw an increase in child members, this was more pronounced in those with tablets and e-readers. Adults in these communities are also keen to experience the technology as well and the librarians are now looking at further outreach projects to engage the wider community. For us, the most important aspect is that children are provided with an environment and the resources to establish a love of reading from an early age. Now we know the benefits that digital and print resources together can bring to a library we look forward to using this dual approach in future projects where we are able, to bring the joy of reading to as many children as possible.

You can download the full Learning Paper here to find out more about this project and you can also watch this short film made by the children themselves!

children with e-reader

Uganda’s children’s libraries are going digital!

Recently, Book Aid International launched a partnership project with National Library of Uganda and Worldreader to bring e-readers into Children’s Corners. 10 libraries in Uganda now have 20 e-readers each, preloaded with 200 titles to support education and reading. Here, Stella Nekuusa, Principal Librarian for National Library of Uganda, tells us what impact the project will have.

Everybody is interested in moving ahead with the rest of the world and embracing digital, or DOT.COM as we call it in Uganda. Recently, National Library of Uganda was delighted to launch a partnership project with Book Aid International and Worldreader to bring e-readers into Children’s Corners in Ugandan libraries. Through using the e-readers the children will be introduced to using computers and more importantly, using them for an educational purpose.

Many of the primary schools in the vicinity of the libraries involved do not have school libraries and those that do have libraries usually only have textbooks. The children are held back from learning about anything beyond what is taught in school. Now with the e-readers they have hundreds of books at their fingertips, with content from all over the world including African content and Ugandan titles. This makes a real difference for them as they can recognise the world which they read about in their books.

This project is bringing children of the poorer communities on board with IT and this has put smiles on their faces because computers were not something they thought they would get access to any time soon. Over 90% of these children do not have computers at home and we see parents, even teachers, getting jealous of their children getting there before them to try something new!

Training was provided by Worldreader earlier this month to help librarians and children make the most of the resource. The librarians have been equipped with the skills to work with children and assist them find what they are interested in to explore their natural talents and build them further through reading.

The digital content will give access to books which parents can rarely afford for their children. The e-readers are especially useful as they do not suffer the wear and tear that books can – especially the most popular stories. The pilot projects that Book Aid International has run in Kenya have seen almost zero damage to the e-readers because the training provided helps librarians to look after them and to help children to do the same.

With the e-readers children have discovered that there is a wealth of storybooks and non-fiction books available for them in beautiful colourful pictures and stories they relate to at their age. The learning process has been made more independent as they teach themselves the meaning of words by checking them out from the inbuilt programmed dictionary.

We believe that our work of promoting a reading culture has received a real boost because children that have accessed stories on e-readers are now picking printed books to read whenever it’s not their time to use the e-readers. Soon we shall realise how reading improves their vocabulary and ability to express themselves and confidence to communicate in the English language.

This project is generously supported in part by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, who have been supporting Book Aid International since 2014.

Photocredit: Worldreader