Thursday, January 29, 2009

Nurturing reading habits in Kenya

Here is a quiz. How many public libraries are there in Nai? I can only name National Library on Upperhill and I don't even know of any others outside Nai. And yet Kenyans do like to read just going by the way they go thru the daily newspapers (not a good measure but as a good as an indicator as any). I think the main reason Kenyans don't read much as they'd like to is because of the trade-off. Between buying a book costing Ksh50+ even in Gikomba vs Safaricom credit or even Unga. Book-reading is an expensive affair.
And yet, I remember when I first landed here, I was told my composition was terrible (some people say it still is. And the cure was to read as much stuff as I could get hold off. I joined the local library and whenever I have moved within the UK, I've joined the local library within a short period of time.
More than better composition, reading also can improve comprehension a necessary tool for us Kenyans to debate better.
So how about setting a public library system initially in the major towns. This can be done as a social venture or even straight up business venture. You lend readers books either a guarantor system (Ojera being a member of the Library will act as a guarantor for Mugambi who he has recently introduced-if book is lost Ojera foots the replacement bill).
Failing that, organise book clubs where readers bring books to a central repository and borrow others. So if you bring 5 books, you can borrow another 5 though all done one at a time.


Empower Kenya said...

There is the McMillan Library on Banda St. and there is a book club called Book Villa.
Book Villa works under a system like the one you suggested.
You are right about a need for more libraries; it would have to be a private initiative since our government is not reliable enough to do it.

MainaT said...

Empower-tx. Yes, the ideas I was laying were more for private sector initiatives. The sort of venture, one can get Corporate sponsors for.