Friday, February 27, 2009

Uganda Community Libraries Association holds its third workshop and its second AGM

February 27, 2009
Kate Parry writes from Kampala:
The Uganda Community Libraries Association, FAVL’s affiliate in East Africa, has just completed its third workshop, held on February 23-24. It was a tremendous success. Eighteen participants were there on the first day and the number increased to more than twenty on the second. Most of UgCLA’s member libraries were represented and so was FAVL’s library in Tanzania, by Aaron Chomolla, the librarian of the Chalula Community Library. The workshop was attended as well by representatives of the US Embassy’s Resource Center and of TASO, an NGO that works with AIDS patients. Both brought resources for display and distribution, which stirred great interest among the participants.
The facilitators of the workshop were mainly members of UgCLA’s Board of Directors—Margaret Baleeta, Head of the English Department at Bugema University, Kate Parry, one of FAVL’s Executive Directors and a Professor in the Department of English at Hunter College in New York, George Openjuru of the Institute for Adult Education at Makerere University, Gertrude Kayaga Mulindwa, Director of the National Library of Uganda, Phenny Birungi, former Director of the Public Libraries Board and now with the National Council for Higher Education, and Grace Musoke, UgCLA’s coordinator. Each took one session, while one was facilitated by an “outside” person, Craig Esbeck, who is an educational consultant with Mango Tree Educational Enterprises (

These facilitators covered a wide range of topics in a variety of different ways, so that the participants engaged in general discussions, carried out different group assignments, filled out individual worksheets, played with Mango Tree’s educational toys, and listened to some hilarious stories.
Everyone was fully involved and went away excited and full of new ideas for library projects. The bonds among the librarians are becoming increasingly strong as they meet again in successive workshops, and an encouraging spirit of voluntarism is developing; on this occasion, for instance, the Mpigi librarian, who happens to be an artist, offered to design a new logo for the Association, and the librarian from the Adult Education Centre at Njeru brought a bunch of leaflets for distribution and sold participants little Luganda books that the Centre had produced for the princely sum of 500 shillings (a little more than 25 cents) per book.

One session of the workshop was devoted to UgCLA’s Annual General Meeting, and this, too, was enormously encouraging. Over the past year UgCLA’s membership has increased from 20 to 46, and of those 46, 26 are libraries—ten more than a year ago, and four of them founded as a direct consequence of our last workshop in July 2008. We have distributed small grants to six libraries and have followed up on them to ensure that the money has been spent as proposed. We have held three workshops. We have hosted one volunteer, with great success, and expect at least two more in 2009. And our financial position is fairly sound, with enough funds in our Ugandan account to sustain us for ten months at any rate.

We do not have any small grants to distribute in 2009, but we are maintaining the tradition of competitive access to benefits by organizing a competition to present in a colloquium on community libraries in Uganda at the 6th Pan African Conference on Reading for All, which is to be held in Dar es Salaam from August 6th-10th (information about the conference is available at We plan to take four library representatives, who will present together with Gertrude Kayaga Mulindwa, Kate Parry, and Grace Musoke. The competition rules require each library to produce an essay describing its most successful project; the essays will be read anonymously and will be chosen on the basis of their quality and of the variety of projects that they represent between them.

As part of the Dar es Salaam trip, we are hoping to arrange a visit to the community library at Kwekitui in Lushoto District in north east Tanzania on the way (the Kwekitui library is supported by FAVL’s partner in East Africa, Under the Reading Tree). There we hope to hold a mini-conference, in which perhaps other Tanzanian libraries will be able to participate. The trip will have to be paid for, of course, but we are going to seek sponsorship for each representative, and for Grace, from individuals and companies here in Uganda. We expect the whole jaunt to cost about $500 per person, a cheap deal since we will travel by bus and take the least expensive accommodation available. We think we can attract sponsors because we can offer good publicity in return, but of course any contributions from outside Uganda will also be most welcome!

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Hey Kate... I believe you had written in this note that the Pan African Reading for All conference is August 6th to 10th, but it is actually August 10th to 14th according to their registration package. The Kwekitui conference, however, would be around the 6th of August. I will try to get the word out here for funding for it. We should connect soon... do you have a good internet connection nearby, we could skype call (I can explain how to do this...)