Monday, May 21, 2018

LIAZ clinches "LOCAL" deal

By Raymond Sikanyika

WorldReader Programme Manager, Benson Mbuthia,
demonstrates how to use an e-reader to Luanshaya
Deputy Mayor Golden Mulenga
One of Library Association of Zambia’s (LIAZ) strategic objectives is to develop capacity building strategies for innovative library services. To ensure that this is attained, LIAZ works in partnership or collaboration with regional and international organizations which have
been instrumental in helping the Association build capacities of its member librarians. 2018 has seen the partnership between LIAZ and Worldreader which has culminated into the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two organizations. The understanding has seen the birth of Local Content in African (LOCAL) Project in Zambia.

The LOCAL project is a collaborative program between Worldreader, the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA), Library services in Ghana, Uganda and Zambia funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Worldreader is pairing digital technology and locally- created e-books with extensive training, capacity building, and support to help library systems develop the resources and knowledge they need to improve their ability to help children access and read content in their mother tongue.

The goals of the project include:

  • Increased reading material in Zambian languages; 
  • Children come to libraries more often to access library services; 
  • Librarian skills, knowledge, and capacity to promote reading is increased;
  • Libraries play an active role in creating and supporting reading culture, serving as agents of change, and centers for development and literacy.

LIAZ made a call to all public libraries in Zambia to apply to take part in the project. After a call was done, 19 libraries responded from which 10 were selected to undertake the project. These 10 will receive 50 e-readers each and its Librarian's capacity built to manage the project. The first phase of the training for head librarians took place from 2nd to 5th May, 2018 at Cresta Golfview Hotel in Lusaka. The libraries that are benefitting from this initiative are: Lusaka City Council Public Library, Matero Public Library, Chilenje Public Library, Mtendere Public Library, Ndola City Council Public Library, Helen Kaunda Memorial Public library, Kitwe City Council Public Library, Chililabombwe Municipal Council Library, Chingola Municipal Council Library and Kalulushi Municipal Council Library.

Participants from the selected public libraries across Zambia that attended
WorldReader training workshop held in Lusaka
The Project will see the above libraries receive 50 e-readers each which will have 100 English titles and 100 locally purchased local language titles that will sit on them. The project targets library users aged between 0 to 12. Worldreader will ensure that the librarians are given the much needed skills to manage this project through training as already indicated above. 

LIAZ is hopeful that this project will impact positively on the communities that these piloting libraries are sitting in. It is a considered view of LIAZ that the library users who are being targeted by the project will immensely benefit from it. E-readers which make part of the ICT gadgets in this fast changing e-world will go a long way in bringing excitement in the participating libraries. LIAZ is therefore convinced beyond doubt that e-readers will add value in the libraries. It is anticipated that the LOCAL project will result in an increase in the amount of time children read, an increase in the amount of enjoyment children get out of reading, and an increase in the amount of time children spend in the libraries.

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