Tag Archives: Librarian training

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!


Inspiring Readers is underway!

Our Inspiring Readers programme aims to improve reading opportunities for primary school children by providing Book Box Libraries for use in the classroom. As well as over 1,000 brand new books for each school, two teachers also attend training with their local library to help them run a successful school library.

 The programme works through ‘hub libraries’, which have Children’s Corners, reaching out to local schools to help them run their libraries effectively. To do this, we train the hub librarians who in turn train teachers from local schools.

 Ashleigh, our Education Project Officer recently travelled to Kenya to oversee and help facilitate two training workshops, one for librarians and another for teachers. We caught up with her to find out about the training and why it is so important.

You went to Kenya to oversee and facilitate two workshops for our new Inspiring Readers programme. Who were these workshops for?

The first workshop was for 12 hub librarians to introduce the programme and to help them run training for teachers. The librarians are really important to the programme as they’re the ones who train the teachers and support the schools throughout.

The workshop lasted for three days and included modules on basic library management, using books in the classroom, monitoring and evaluation, and facilitation skills. We also used the time to plan the second workshop in which the librarians would share what they had learned with the teachers and head-teachers from their local primary schools.

The second workshop was in the Kisii branch library in south west Kenya. This one was for teachers and was facilitated by two librarians from Kisii who had attended the hub librarian training. The librarians took the teachers through the Inspiring Readers programme and facilitated sessions on managing the Book Box Libraries, using books in lessons and monitoring and evaluation. At the end of the training the teachers were given the books for their new Book Box Libraries – needless to say they were very excited!

What changes did you see in the librarians as a result of the training?

The librarians really understood the importance of their role and were enthused about helping the teachers get the best from their libraries. Their confidence in their ability to run the teacher training sessions grew throughout the workshop and they seemed to feel a sense of pride and excitement at receiving the books and running the programme. They know this programme will make a huge difference for children in their communities and they are excited to take part.

Did you learn anything from this workshop that you’d like to implement in the librarian workshops for other countries involved in the Inspiring Readers programme?

We learned that the best way to encourage active learning in training is to ensure that the answers to questions come from the floor as much as possible. The librarians we are working with are experts in their fields so our job is to help them to share that knowledge. We found role play really effective in helping the librarians work through challenges so we’ll be using more of that in our future training sessions.

How did the teacher training which the Kisii librarians led go?

The teacher training was well-attended, with some schools bringing an extra teacher as they were keen to have as many teachers attend as possible. The sessions were fun and engaging, and the librarians, despite only having a few days to practise, were able to deliver an effective training session for the teachers.

The teachers learned a lot from the librarians about library management, and there were many discussions about the best ways to plan, set up, manage and run a school library.

The focus on how to promote reading in the school is something that the teachers were very comfortable with, and being able to share knowledge and expertise was a highly effective exercise.

How will we monitor the programme?

We will be doing a mid-term evaluation in six months’ time where we will collect the data that the teachers and the librarians have gathered as well as holding interviews with the teachers, head-teachers and pupils. The librarians will be popping in to the schools to see how they are doing and offer support every couple of months. The monitoring aspect of the programme is really important because we want to ensure that the books are used to their full potential. By monitoring progress frequently we can continue to tweak the programme to ensure it has the greatest possible impact.

How many schools in total will benefit from the Inspiring Readers programme?

In Kenya there will be 25 schools now and another 25 later in the year. But we hope the whole programme will see 310 schools benefiting – that’s a total of 930 teachers attending training!

What happens after this phase in Kenya?

The next country will be Cameroon, with five hub libraries working with 25 schools. We hope to start that phase of the programme later in 2016.

This phase of the Inspiring Readers programme has been supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.