July 28, 2014

Books About Farming and Agriculture for Primary School

This is a hot topic at schools in Kenya, especially when you are in the rural areas (e.g. our library at Iltilal, or the one we are working on now at Lewa). The reason it is so popular, and so important, is that virtually every family has it’s own small plot of land where they farm (mainly subsistence, to feed themselves). More often than not, at some point during any given month, a students chores will include farming.

At the secondary school level, it is easier for us to find suitable books on farming and agriculture, but I have been searching high and low for the primary school level, with minimal results. I am pleased though that I came across two books by Gail Gibbons: Farming, and From Seed to Plant. This is a great start, but I am hoping to put together a collection of at least 10-12 books.

For any readers of this blog, do you have any suggestions? I would love to hear from you if you do. Please send us an email.

July 26, 2014

What The Publishers Recommend

I loved this diagram I came across on the Scholastic Educational Catalogue. Like the libraries we design, it shows a variety of multimedia sources in different stations (computers, smart boards, group reading, individual reading). We have also found that this produces the best learning environment for students.

July 4, 2014

Iltital Primary School Library Officially Opens!!

Today was truly wonderful. After some last minute organizing and cleaning yesterday (it doesn’t matter how well you prepare, a last minute clean is always in order), we were ready to open the Iltilal library this morning.

The entire Iltilal community joined us for the occasion - parents of the school, extended family, neighbors, elders, and clan members. It was tremendously rewarding for us to be able to meet everyone that will benefit from this library, and to be able to give them tours of the space.

The library council were fantastic hosts, showing the community members around and giving demonstrations on the new Smart Board.

We loved seeing the reactions of the parents to the book collections, as we spent a great deal of time selecting books that were relevant to the community, such as books about local animals, conservation, the environment, poaching, climate, water, and health.

June 11, 2014

Internet Before Computers - Why We Won’t Donate I.T. Without Connection

Although we have several different KEY Library Models, which include different kinds of resources in the library (some just books and furniture, others books, furniture and I.T.) we do try as much as possible to incorporate the I.T. model into our libraries. There is no question that we are in the Digital Age with a tremendous shift of information from print to digital. If a library’s purpose is to house information for people to access equally, then that too should include computers for which to access the internet. However, a problem encountered far too often in Kenya, and indeed all of Africa, is internet connection - there isn’t much of it yet, especially in rural areas. We place the onus on the individual schools to tap into government programs that set up internet connections, as well as put pressure on their local magistrates to bring connectivity to their communities. For us, if an internet connection is setup, we will always try to donate I.T. If there isn’t one, I.T. cannot be justified as its utility is almost entirely diminished. This naturally presupposes that electricity is also set up and consistently supplied - something that I have found can never be assumed.

June 11, 2014

Bad News For Outlaws - Great News For KEY!

One of my favorite parts of my job, and certainly one of the most satisfying, is to find a book that I had always been looking for, without even knowing it. Our book list is such a critical component of what we do, that we are constantly researching - trying to find yet missed titles to add to our collections, and thus to the libraries. I practically skipped for joy when I came across this book Bad News for Outlaws about Bass Reeves. He was a slave that became a US Marshall, and never failed to track down the perpetrators of crimes. I have found that most children and YA books that have African/African-American main characters are about slavery or segregation. Although these are incredibly important topics for the children in our libraries to learn about, I do try to find books of a variety of themes with Africans/African-Americans as main characters, so that ideas for them to identify with are not limited only to struggles. On top of that, I really struggle to find books like that for boys, with themes of adventure, heroes, cowboys etc. I can’t wait to order this book and add it to our libraries - what a great role model.