Community libraries

Community libraries are often set up by individual or groups of community members in areas where there is no public library.

Community libraries are found everywhere from remote rural areas to informal settlements in major cities and range from tiny single-roomed structures built from local materials through to refurbished shipping containers and multi-storey brick buildings.

Community libraries are staffed by passionate volunteers and are driven by a vision to improve people’s lives.

They are also very often more than libraries, offering spaces for a range of community activities including women’s literacy classes, cultural and artistic activities and health promotion.

We support a large number of community libraries across Africa and beyond by sending them a wide range of brand new, carefully selected books each year.

The need for our books

Community libraries are not usually government-funded and often have very little if any budget. Yet they play a crucial role in their communities as they are often the only place that local people can access books to further their education and learn skills for life.

Creating havens for young readers

We are working with community libraries in a number of African countries to create Book Havens; special spaces where children’s reading and learning can flourish. In each library, we will train volunteer and informal librarians in how to run their library while also supporting, engaging and inspiring young readers. In addition, we will provide funds to refurbish the library’s space to ensure it is welcoming and child-friendly and purchase locally published books and provide a collection of brand new children’s books from here in the UK.

Book Havens are now open in the Mathare slum in Nairobi, Kenya, rural community libraries in Ethiopia and specialist NGO premises in Uganda. Read the final report on Book Havens Kenya here.