Between 2015 and 2017, we worked in collaboration with the National Library of Uganda and Worldreader (a non-profit which provides access to digital books through e-readers and mobile phones) to implement the Digital Futures for Ugandan Libraries project in ten public libraries across Uganda. The project focused on introducing e-readers to children in public libraries and this paper presents the key insights.
Since 2014, we have been working in collaboration with the National Library of Uganda and Ugandan Community Library Association to support young readers in public and community libraries through our Children’s Corners programme. Library spaces have been refurbished to make them more suitable and attractive for children and stocked with extensive collections of brand new children’s books. Librarians have also participated in training to develop their skills and knowledge in working with children.
Our Digital Futures for Ugandan Libraries project follows on from this and aims to further enrich children’s reading through the introduction of digital reading resources alongside printed books.
Ten public and community libraries in Uganda took part and in addition to kindle-ereaders, they also received a range of brand new printed children’s books, training for staff in how to use and integrate e-readers into their reading programmes and support to promote their collections and programmes to their local communities.
Key outcomes from Digital Futures for Ugandan Libraries
– Greater insight into what children like to read
Children report a preference for story books over non-fiction or text books. They like being able to swipe through an e-book and to use the dictionary. They particularly print books for their stories and colourful illustrations.
– Increased library usage
Libraries are reporting an increasing number of children using their libraries, either on their own or in class groups from local schools.
– Increased community interest
Introduction of the e-readers as an additional resource has galvanised interest amongst local teachers and education officials.