Tag Archives: librarians


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. 


Book Aid International warehouse

Putting partners’ choices first – our new book selection pilot

Here at Book Aid International we aim to ensure that every book we send is useful and relevant. Our selection processes here in London are overseen by a qualified librarian and we always match the books we send as closely as we can with our partners’ requirements. Recently we have piloted a new feature in our warehouse inventory system Swiftbooks, which allows our partners to select directly from the stock we have in our warehouse. This makes it easy for our partners to select books that they know will be useful for their library users. It also means they know exactly what is coming on each shipment and can prepare accordingly, speeding up their own distribution process and ensuring books get to readers as quickly as possible. We spoke to four partner representatives from Kenya, Zimbabwe and Cameroon who had recently trialled the new system.

Betty Kalugho, Kenya National Library Service

“Selecting from a list of available materials gave us a sense of ownership of the books we are to receive. We are able to identify with the books having been involved in identifying what we want. We also know what our library users prefer so we can go by that knowledge and ensure they are happy with what they get.”

Warehouse shelves
Books for selecting in our warehouse

Yeukai Chimuka, Chair of the Harare Distribution Committee, Zimbabwe

“The selection of books by the Harare Distribution Committee was a most welcome development in the book distribution. This enabled the committee to select books which are most needed by the beneficiaries. The selection was done by all the committee members to ensure all categories of beneficiaries are catered for. The selection was very easy and it enabled the committee to see the total number of books available for each title and how many copies per title the committee can have.

“The partner selection will go a long way in ensuring that there will not be any books which will be deemed irrelevant by the beneficiaries as they will be part of the selection.”

Letshani Ndlovu, member of the Bulawayo Distribution Committee, Zimbabwe

“The partner selections are a welcome development to us and the libraries we work with. For our selection as the Bulawayo Distribution Committee, we called a meeting with all the committee members and we did the selection together. We found this very interesting and useful in that we had control of what we will get when the shipment arrives. Since all of our beneficiaries were represented, people had the liberty to choose what they knew was required and would be useful for the libraries. We were selecting exactly what we knew was relevant for our readers.

“The process was easy and everyone was co-operating, we are looking forward to our next partner selection opportunity!”

Book distribution
Book distribution day in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Andrew Nyenty, Executive Director, EISERVI, Cameroon

“I am happy to be part of the pilot. It’s a great idea to get this very practical book selection system in place. It helps us to track and know what goes out and to where, as the books leave our warehouse. Most important is the fact that we are now fully involved in the decision making.

“With the Dewey Decimal Classification number included on the list, it will help our various librarians to get their books almost immediately to their shelves when they arrive the library. Book processing is no longer going to a problem. Congratulations!”

Partners work with our Collections Development Manager Stevie Russell to make their selections. Here’s what she had to say:

“I am delighted to see this development finally taking shape. This initial pilot involved three partners in two countries and a limited range of subjects, but the plan is to gradually roll it out to more partners in more countries this year, and to increase the categories of stock available for partner ordering. However, it is not our intention that all partners will be required to do their own selections – it’s a service we are offering for those who prefer it, but Book Aid International librarians will continue to select books for any partners who may not have the capacity to do their own.

For me, one of the most interesting outcomes of this initial pilot has been that, whilst we are empowering our partners to select books for their libraries, their selections so far have not differed significantly from what we would have selected based on their requests. The partner selections pilot provides reassuring evidence that books donated by Book Aid International are relevant for, and valued by, the libraries which ultimately receive them.”

Over the next year we hope to expand the pilot to other partners so they too can make their own selections directly.