In Africa and around the world the demand for digital resources is increasing rapidly. We believe in the power of the written word in all its forms, print and digital, and we run projects to pilot the use of e-books alongside print books in children’s libraries. By providing digital content in libraries we hope to help more children and young people discover the joy of reading through digital as well as print media.
Piloting the use of tablets and e-readers in Kenya
In 2014 we supported the establishment of 12 new Children’s Corners in Kenya, and in four Children’s Corners we supplied tablets preloaded with educational content. The librarians in these four libraries attended specialist digital training to help the children get used to the new technology. In particular this training focused on special groups, such as girls, children with learning difficulties and children with physical disabilities.
The librarians reported that their library user numbers increased as a result of the project and that children who would not usually engage with activities in the library were now participating with the tablets. This led us to expand our digital offering into other projects. You can read about this project and its results here.
Digital Futures: providing e-readers in Ugandan Children’s Corners
Following the positive feedback from the digital pilot project in Kenya, we launched a project in 2015 in five Ugandan libraries. The libraries all had established Children’s Corners which were set up through our partnership with National Library of Uganda. Each of the libraries received 20 Worldreader e-readers, preloaded with 200 titles including books by African authors. The librarians from these libraries all attended specialist digital training and are using the e-readers to reach out into their communities.
Many of the libraries have run training sessions with local schools with the e-readers. They report that more people are now coming to the libraries and that children who did not engage with reading print books are now using the e-readers.
The in-built dictionary is especially useful for children who are trying to master English, especially as print dictionaries are often in short supply in Africa. We implemented a similar e-reader project in Children’s Corners in five libraries in Malawi in 2016, as well as in a further five libraries in Uganda.