Most Africans perceive public libraries as spaces with dusty tomes where people go to read and study especially just before examinations. For many, libraries are all about education and the elites.
Times are changing!
African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA) in partnership with Public Library Association (PLA) and Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) have run leadership programmes for public libraries that are yielding amazing results. African Public libraries are offering services on literacy and more! Isa Maganda of Nambi Sseppuuya Community Resource Centre, Uganda, who took part in the AfLIA/EIFL IYALI leadership programme is among the public librarians who are shattering the glass ceiling and rewriting perceptions about public libraries in Africa.
His library hosts a 35 years old widow, who visits every day to use the acquired sewing machines and perfect on her skills of making reusable pads. She is now performing some cloth repairs for people at a small fee so as to earn a living and educate her children.
She has an ambitious plan to:
– begin training other women, once the resource acquires more sewing Machines.
– start making/sewing school uniforms, casual wear shirts and dresses for girls and boys when gets capital.
Libraries are really spaces of possibilities!
Zariakah Kyozira, aged 25, from Igombe village in Uganda, was struggling to find employment in her chosen career, human resources management. “I was just at home for two years, doing nothing” she said. “Then one day Isa Maganda, librarian of Nambi Sseppuuya Community Resource Centre, my local library, told me to join a learning circle to learn computer skills. I signed up immediately!” Learning circles are in-person study groups for people taking online courses.
Isa started the learning circle in the library after attending learning circles facilitation training organized by EIFL and Peer to Peer University in 2018. At the library, Zariakah discovered that there were many free courses online. She was inspired to initiate her own learning circle in the library on baking.
Hear her …
“We were 11 learners. Our group met every weekend for four weeks. Isa facilitated and we helped each other.
“Now I can do everything – edit on the computer and use the internet, email and Facebook!”
“Using new knowledge from the course and recipes from the internet, we are now baking delicious cakes and cookies that we are selling,” she said.
“I spend all my free time in the library, using the computer to research the internet to discover new ideas.”
Nkem Agu, Enugu State Library Board, Nigeria believes that young people can acquire economic skills that will help them thrive successfully despite the present high rate of unemployment in many African countries. She is in Cohort 2 of AfLIA Leadership Academy (AfLAc). Her library offers shoe-making classes for the youth. They learn how to make sandals and slip-ons from scratch. Information resources on shoemaking and designs are also provided. The Library is working on having a brand name and logo for their shoes!
When next anyone tells you that African public libraries are all about reading old books, kindly tell such a person that AfLIA has brought and is still bringing changes to African libraries of all types!
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