Friday, July 04, 2008

Kate Parry writes from Uganda...

Another idea that has arisen out of my recent visit to British Columbia is to develop a library-to-library scheme. Two libraries near Vancouver, a public library and a college library, have agreed to collaborate to raise funds to support one library in Uganda.The project will be for a year in the first instance, but it is to be regarded as a pilot, to be continued and replicated if it turns out to be successful. I have been asked to identify the library to be supported, and our coordinator and I visited the one that we thought had the best profile for the purpose just last week. We came back sure that this should be the one: it has received hardly any foreign support and is consequently very short of books, and it is run entirely by a committee of retired people, who are very responsible but can't give it enough time. The library-to-library support will enable them to hire a librarian, to greatly increase the stock, and to begin organizing outreach programs. In return, they, or the librarian, will be expected to send regular reports to the supporters, with photos and other material, with the aim that it should be educationally useful, providing the donors with a sense of direct connection to Africa. I pointed out that the scheme would require a representative of the donor libraries to visit Uganda, and they jumped at the idea of doing that! Do you think that we might, perhaps through the American Library Association, or, indeed, through IFLA, identify other libraries who would be interested in participating in replicating this project with other Ugandan, or East African, libraries?

One more piece of information, and then I must close. we've now fixed the dates for our (that is, UgCLA's) workshop on how to initiate a community library: it will be on July 28th and 29th, with upcountry participants arriving on the evening of the 27th. It will be held at a place called Shine Hotel at Kansanga on the outskirts of Kampala. I'll be here for that, of course, and will then go to Tanzania on August 1st. I'll be there for a week, back at home for the weekend of the 8th and 9th, and then visiting libraries in Uganda between the 11th and the 13th. I leave on the 15th
and get back to NYC on the 19th.

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