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Five Things I Know About… Community Libraries

Cluster member DR. PATRICIA CHEPKWONY is a book-loving university lecturer and entrepreneurship consultant in Kericho, Kenya. In her local village, Simatwet, she has launched – and continues to run – a community library. I am who I am because of libraries. I was exposed to libraries at a young age, and this set me on a path to where I am today. I started the community library so others can have similar opportunities: to get good grades, to get a good education, and to come back to support their community in new ways. The children in my village love books. Initially I collected books through friends, crowdsourcing and a ‘book harvest’. We gathered plenty of books, but the local children finished reading them within a week! My living room is too small! I started running the library out of my home, but too many kids were coming round. We now use a local tea-buying centre instead. We have about 200 books at any one time, and on a good day 60-80 children are borrowing them. When I pick books that I think are important, they often aren’t borrowed. I’ve learnt instead to listen to the children, to learn from what they read, and the stories they tell one another. Community ownership means a brighter future. Each household has donated five chairs so the children can sit during the library session. Local mothers volunteer to run the library sessions, take care of the books, and to engage and mobilise the community. Their ownership of the project ensures its sustainability.

This is the first in a new series of blogs sharing the knowledge and wisdom of Cluster members around our network. Sign up to our newsletter to receive more.


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