Tag Archives: Library

Inspiring Readers teachers training

Inspiring librarians

Sarah Ogembo is 27 and is already Head of Kenya National Library Service (knls) Kisii branch library in Kenya. Her library is part of our Inspiring Readers thanks to funds from Players of People’s Postcode Lottery. 

Our school library programme and our Education Project Officer Ashleigh met Sarah while facilitating the librarian training as part of the programme. Ashleigh also witnessed Sarah putting her new skills into practice, training teachers and head teachers from local primary schools in Kisii. Ashleigh caught up with Sarah to find out how she got to where she is today.


Sarah Ogembo

Who is Sarah Ogembo?

I am a 27 year old lady that loves her job! The main things that typify me are that I am very passionate about children, I cannot stand injustice and I always try to be a very happy person. Professionally speaking, I would classify myself as an information provider. I chose this career path because I think that each and every person should have access to information to make positive changes to society – and these changes are cultural, social, economic and political. I believe that the role of libraries is to change the world one person at a time through access to information through books.


Sarah in action

How did you get to where you are today?

When I was growing up, my mother worked at the Ministry of Land. The community library was opposite my mother’s ministry. We went there when my mum went to work and we stayed all day during the holidays until she came to collect us. I loved reading the books – I would read the whole shelf from left to right. I was lucky that my secondary school had a very good library with a lovely young librarian who was very good at her job.

When I got to university I really knew what I wanted to do. I studied library and information science and I picked this course because it was relevant to my strengths and passions. I attended the University of Kenyatta and I was there for four years. They had a very good library which I used all the time. Once I graduated and started looking for a job, I applied to work at knls and once I was successful, I was sent to Kisii straight away.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The daily interaction with lots of different people, especially the children. Seeing the ones that come in to the library to do an assignment but can’t afford to buy
the course book, they come in and use it in the library. This is one of my favourite things about this job.


Sarah training

Tell us about your work with Book Aid International

Since working at Kisii, I was invited into the partnerships that knls have with other organisations. I know that as an organisation we cannot do everything, so it is useful to work with other stakeholders. With Book Aid International in particular, I have worked on the Inspiring Readers programme as Kisii library is one of the hub libraries in the first ever tranche of the programme. The local schools involved have now become institutional members and the children are really enjoying their new books.

The relationship between our library and the teachers and head-teachers from the local schools have been strengthened and I think the schools will really benefit from the programme. My role within this programme is to act as a link between the schools and Kisii library. We are now monitoring what is happening and we are guiding and training the teachers to ensure that the children get the most out of their new resources.

How do you see the role that libraries can play in the development of Kenyan society?

There has been a big change in libraries from when I was a kid to now in terms of the advancement of technology. The primary role of the library might not change – every person should have access to resources to make sure their literacy levels are increased. But the resources and how we access them will change in the future. Libraries have a big role to play in helping people adapt to future societies, but with the same age old common goal.


Find out more about Inspiring Readers below.

Keeping communities informed during Ebola

When Ebola broke out in Sierra Leone in 2014, a national state of emergency was declared. Public institutions were shut, travel was restricted and children missed a whole school year.

Believing in their important role in contributing to the health, education and development of the country, the Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) kept the doors of its libraries open across the country.

We talked to Sallieu Turay, Chief Librarian of SLLB about the role that its libraries played during the Ebola crisis:


Somebody would say “what is the link with a public library and Ebola?” There is a link because we have a role to inform society about contemporary issues.

During the Ebola period, the Sierra Leone Library Board libraries remained open. We never closed our doors. Schools were closed, colleges were closed, some public offices were closed but all our libraries nationwide were open. We motivated our staff to make sure that they continued to deliver the relevant library and information services to the public.




There were a lot of restrictions in terms of movement from one point to another. But we were travelling all over the country trying to distribute books, distributing other educational items to the public. To move from one point to the other, you had to make an application for permits to travel. Without those permits you couldn’t travel from one point to the other. And you had a time frame you were allowed to travel within – you couldn’t travel outside of that set period. It was difficult but we ventured.


Bo City Library Sierra Leone


The there was also the risk of interacting with people during that period. But our libraries run a lot of outreach services for their communities. We do book programmes and lot of user education, especially things that relate to health issues. We did this especially during the Ebola period. We were the first to bring on board traditional healers all over Sierra Leone to educate them on issues related to Ebola prevention.


Activities at Bo City Library, Sierra Leone


We also continued to run our library programmes like quizzes, dramas, reading promotional activities and the like. We wanted to try to close the gap. Most children were at home doing nothing and we believed that making our doors open within that period would give them something to do, somewhere to go.

It was not easy, but we tried to do what we could as a library during that particular period.  And it paid off so much.


In March 2016, the World Health Organisation declared Sierra Leone Ebola free. Schools are open again, businesses are restarting and everyone is focused on the future. We are proud to partner with SLLB, providing brand new books for library users of every age and stage. This year, we have shipped 33,000 books to Sierra Leone with the support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery. We hope that these new, carefully selected books will help people as they rebuild their lives and communities.

To learn more about our work in Sierra Leone take a look at the links below.


Mzuzu refrub

Mzuzu library – transformation in progress!

Recently we introduced you to Mzuzu library in northern Malawi. Mzuzu is one of five libraries in Malawi currently refurbishing a space which will become a Children’s Corner – a vibrant space in the library where children can read, play and learn. The team at Mzuzu library have already begun work on the transformation of their library.

Here’s a quick reminder of how the space looked before the project began.

Librarian Peter and his team started out by painting the walls of the space which will become the Children’s Corner. There are now brightly coloured walls, painted cupboards and shelving and murals on the walls.

Lastly, the team painted the exterior of the Children’s Corner so that the community can tell the Corner is there for them.

Peter, the Librarian at Mzuzu says:

The refurbishment is going on well and we are now done with painting and art work. Mzuzu Library will be now a conducive environment for reading for the children and the place is very attractive now. A lot of children have been coming to find out what the Children’s Corner is all about, the services we will be offering to them and they are very happy for the development.

Mzuzu Library Children’s Corner will officially open in September. Keep checking in for more updates!