School Libraries and Local Book Purchase Project
The National Library of Uganda carries out projects from time to time to support different sectors of the economy. These are carried out in collaboration with other stakeholders in the library and information services field.
School libraries development project
Effective education depends on the acquisition of literacy skills that enable both children and adults to acquire knowledge and skills that enable them to realize their own potential. However, most schools in Uganda lack library facilities and supplementary reading materials to meet their information needs.
The National Library of Uganda promotes reading beyond the textbook by donating books to primary schools every year to assist them start their own school libraries. Prior to the donation, teachers responsible for reading/libraries are trained in how to promote reading and also how to handle books for children. Over the past ten years funding has been received annually from the Swedish International Development Authority (Sida), channeled through the East African Book Development Association for the purchase of supplementary reading materials. Book Aid International (UK) has also provided both books and funding.
Local Book Purchase project
The National Library of Uganda partnered with Book Aid International to provide culturally relevant materials to selected communities in the county. This was done after interviews with people, especially children in various parts of the country, revealed that although they liked reading all kinds of books, they preferred books whose content they could relate to. In addition, studies have revealed that initial literacy skills are most effectively acquired when taught in the mother tongue, and that books in the local languages stimulate and maintain the interest of the newly literate. Sadly those in greatest need do not have access to these essential materials because they cannot read in English, or at all. The local book purchase scheme, a project created to provide an opportunity to acquire books in local languages as well as in English was started to address this situation.
Through this project BAI has been providing grants to the NLU for selection and acquisition of books locally. In order to promote sustainable book development, the NLU has been working with local publishers and booksellers’ Associations to plan and implement the project.
The objectives of the project are:-
To promote reading and literacy amongst marginalised groups like:
- The rural or urban poor
- Semi literates or new literates
- Women and girls
- People with disabilities
- Orphans and street children
- Prison populations
To assess the relevancy of locally published books
To strengthen cooperation between NLU, local booksellers and publishers
To promote a reading culture among the target groups
The decision on what to buy was reached after:-
- Visiting the selected user groups and holding discussions with them
- Half-day briefing of the selected library managers
- Questionnaires were filled by users
- Beneficiaries asked to select specific titles they are interested in reading
To acquire the books, the NLU invited booksellers to bid through their national association to supply the books. One bookseller was asked to consolidate the purchases. Publishers were informed and asked to make their booklists/samples available to the NLU or bookseller for selection.
The last phase of thee project benefited:-
- Kampiringisa Children’s Remand Home
- Lira Public Library
- Mbale Public Library
- The National Library of Uganda reference Library