Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Hamid becomes the librarian of the Year 2007

The Director of the Zanzibar Library Services, Mr. Hamid Rajab Juma is named the Librarian of the Year 2007. This was announced in a press conference by the new Chairman of Tanzania Library and Information Association (TLA) Mr. Abdulla K. Hassan. The news appeared in local daily newspapers of Guardian, Tanzania Daima and Mtanzania of Monday, 7th April and Wedneday, 9th April 2008 respectively.

It was reported that the nomination was voted by members of TLA who had attended the Annual General Meeting held in Mwanza on 29th February 2007. Mr. Juma was nominated due to his continuous endeavours of extending the library services to rural parts of Zanzibar and promotion of reading culture amoung the school children. For a long time the local library services were enjoyed only by people living in the two towns of Zanzibar Town and Chake Chake, where the public libraries are located.

This is the third time since the establishment of TLA's Librarian Excellence Awards. Dr. Alli Abushiri Mcharazo and Prof. Juliata Nawe were nominated in 2005 and 2006 respectively.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Konoike donates four computers to ZLS

A Japanese Construction Company, Konoike donated four (4) used computers to Zanzibar Library Services (ZLS). The Company responded to a request submitted through the Embassador of Japan in Tanzania. Then on 5 th February 2008, the director of ZLS Mr. Hamid Rajab Juma in the company of Mr. Kyota Lizuka, a Programme Officer from the Embassy visited the company's headquarter at Mwenge, Dar es Salaam and collected the computers. These computers are aimed to be installed in the new library at Maisara, Zanzibar Town to be used for library management activities.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

ZLS pilots training programmes for schools

With the support of the British High Commission in Tanzania, ZLS staff have been developing two training programmes aimed at strengthening school library provision in Zanzibar.

One two-day workshop on basic library management and reading promotion skills for teachers from schools in Central District with existing libraries was piloted with 10 teachers from 5 schools in the Central Distict in November 2007. Topics covered included:

  • About libraries, literacy and learning;
  • Skills for managing libraries;
  • Using school to support reading;
  • Techniques for promoting reading and library skills

A separate two-day workshop on planning a new school library for 5 head teachers and 5 teacher librarians from 5 schools in Central District without existing libraries was piloted at the same time.

Topics covered included:

  • About libraries, literacy and learning;
  • Skills for managing libraries;
  • Planning a new school library
  • Preparing a basic project proposal

Both workshops were very successful and ZLS is planning to run these workshops in other districts on Zanzibar Island in 2008.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

New collections for Teacher Centre Libraries

In October 2007, ZLS staff visited TC libraries across Zanzibar to deliver new books for each TC library intended to help teachers mainstream HIV / AIDS education in the classroom – the purchase and distribution of these HIV / AIDS materials has been made possible through the Support of Zanzibar AIDS Commission.

These materials will be used by TC library staff to run HIV awareness activities for teachers and students for World AIDS Day 2007 on 1 December 2007.

During these visits, ZLS also delivered ZLS Library Resource Packs - collections of useful print and digital resources about basic library management and reading promotion - to TC libraries.

By compiling and delivering these ZLS Library Resource Packs to all Teacher Centre libraries in Unguja and Pemba, it is intended that:

  • TC staff will use these resource packs to develop library services to support teaching and learning within all TC libraries;
  • All schools in Zanzibar will be able to access appropriate resources about library development and reading promotion easily within their Teacher’s Centre libraries;
  • These resource packs will be generally available to support future training provided by ZLS for teacher-librarians across the archipelago.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Chake Chake Library promotes reading to children

The ZLS Library in Chake Chake on Pemba Island has been running a weekly programme to promote literacy and libraries to primary school children for over three years. Children come to the library every Friday afternoon to read together, to play games, to draw, sing and act.

The library staff is working hard to get more children involved in the library by building relationships with schools close to the library. However, there is a desperate shortage of Swahili story books for young children in the library so finding funds to buy more locally published books to use for this programme is an ongoing concern at this library.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

President of Zanzibar inspects construction of new central library

On Friday 28th September 2007, the President of Zanzibar Hon. Amani Abeid Karume visited the new Central Library building at Maisara, Zanzibar Town. The President toured the building and saw the progress of the construction. The site engineer Mr. Ramadhan Mussa Bakar informed the President that 95% of the construction work has already completed.

Later the President addressed members of the Zanzibar Library Board and the construction team. In his speech, he told the audiance that he is satisfied with the progress and encouraged the people of Zanzibar, particularly children, to make use of this modern library when it opens. He added that the library is more spacious with specialized services for adult and children including internet services which could be available free of charge. He commented that the new library, surrounded by beautiful gardens, will provide a conducive environment for reading, study amd relaxation.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Please complete ZLS survey of funding sources for library development in Zanzibar!

The current level of library provision to communities in Zanzibar is depressingly low:
  • There are only two public libraries, poorly resourced but well used, in the entire archipelago.
  • Nearly 60% of schools on Unguja currently have no form of school library at all.
  • The 10 Teacher Centre (TC) libraries on Unguja and Pemba are generally unable to function as 'district libraries' serving local communities, due to inadequate training of staff, insufficient and ill-equipped library spaces and inappropriate library stock.
In response to this situation, Zanzibar Library Services (ZLS) is compiling a directory of possible funding sources for schools, Teacher Centres and other organisations in Zanzibar interested in applying for funding to support the establishment and improvement of libraries.

This directory will be distributed during ZLS training workshops for school and TC staff, aimed at assisting schools and Teacher Centres to develop and maintain libraries within their institutions.

If your organisation is interested in promoting literacy and improving lifelong education on Zanzibar, please help us by competing this survey online today!


Friday, 7 September 2007

Swahili guides on reading promotion and library management from CBP

Children's Book Project in Tanzania (CBP) has kindly donated over 400 guides to reading promotion and basic library management to ZLS. This collection of guides, developed by CBP and written in Swahili to support the development and promotion of school libraries, includes the following titles:

  • Maktaba na zana za kufundishia usomaji (Libraries and teaching aids to teach reading)
  • Misingi ya kusoma (Foundations of reading)
  • Mwongozo wa usomaji katika shule za msingi (Guide to reading in primary schools)
  • Pamoja na utumizi wa hadithi kufundishia kugha (Using stories to teach language)
  • Usomaji wa kuongozwa (Guide to reading)
  • Usomaji na uandikaji wa pamoja (Reading and writing together)

ZLS will be distributing copies of these guides to the 10 Teacher Centre libraries on Unguja and Pemba in October 2007, and using them to support future ZLS training initiatives for schools.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Book Box Libraries in action!

ZLS visited those schools with new book box libraries last week to see how they were getting on with using these libraries with their students and teachers. All 5 schools have made great progress - all the books have been processed properly to make it easier for students to find and borrow the books they need, many have been running regular storytelling sessions, teachers have been borrowing the book box to use for class reading lessons, and at Chumbuni Primary School, the teacher-librarians have promoted the book box library so well that their book box is nearly empty as most of the books are out on loan.

The students are loving having Swahili story books to read and all the teacher-librarians are already asking for more books for their book box libraries...

Friday, 1 June 2007

New book box libraries for 5 primary schools!

As part of our World Book Day 2007 celebrations (funded by the British High Commission in Tanzania), ZLS invited primary school within the Urban and West Districts on Unguja that don't have libraries to apply to receive one of five new book box libraries.

As most schools do not have any spare rooms to house a permanent library, book box libraries can be a good solution as they are lockable and compact, so that it is easy to store and move them around. Each book box opens up to reveal two shelves filled with 225 primarily locally produced Swahili and English stories and information books for new and developing readers.

The book box libraries also come with two large mats to provide students with somewhere comfortable to sit and read during library and storytelling sessions held outdoors.

Ten teachers from the five winning schools participated in a 3-day training programme in basic library skills and reading promotion techniques in May 2007 to help to prepare them to manage and promote their new book box libraries to their school communities. Once training had been completed, ZLS staff delivered a book box library to each school on 1 June 2007.

We look forward to visiting these primary schools in a few months' time to find out how these new libraries are being used by their students and teachers. If feedback is positive, ZLS is very keen to put more book box libraries in primary schools in other areas in Zanzibar.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Promoting libraries to headteachers

As there is only one primary school on Zanzibar Island with a functional library, ZLS is working hard to improve access to books and libraries for primary school students across the island.

As part of ZLS World Book Day 2007 celebrations, we invited headteachers from primary schools in the Urban and West districts to attend an advocacy workshop on 28 April 2007, to discuss the role of libraries in literacy and learning. In addition to hosting lively discussions on the challenges of promoting a reading culture on Zanzibar, ZLS staff took this opportunity to outline the various ways in which ZLS can work with primary schools to ensure that children are able to access books and libraries:

  • By running weekly storytelling and reading promotion activities for primary school students in the Urban District
  • By identifying and working with external partners to secure resources to improve library provision to students on Zanzibar
  • By conducting research to inform future development of libraries to support teaching and learning
  • By distributing books and other teaching materials donated by international library donor agencies such as Book Aid International and Books for Africa to schools with functional school libraries
  • By hosting special information sessions for students in conjunction with special events such as World AIDS Day and World Book Day
  • By offering training in basic school library management and reading promotion training to teachers
  • By ensuring that the new Central Library, to be opened in late 2007, will have a large, well-resourced Children’s section
  • By organizing and running projects to improve access for students to Swahili and English books in primary schools without libraries.

Feedback from this event was very positive with a strong call for more opportunities to come together and share ideas and experiences of library development across the island. Many head teachers also requested that ZLS host more training events in reading promotion and basic library management for their teachers. We are very keen to offer this kind of training on a regular basis but it takes money to run effective workshops so this is another key area in which ZLS is looking for support...

Monday, 23 April 2007

Storytelling in the library

To celebrate World Book & Copyright Day 2007, ZLS invited students from 10 primary schools to visit ZLS Central Library to participate in storytelling sessions and promote our new collection of locally published Swahili storybooks. The storytelling sessions were run by those 6 ZLS staff members who all took part in workshops on reading promotion and storytelling techniques in March 2007. The response from students and teachers alike throughout the week was very encouraging!

Staff at ZLS Central Library will now be running weekly storytelling sessions for two different primary schools every Wednesday in our new and improved Children's section throughout the school year.

Friday, 20 April 2007

New Swahili books for ZLS Central Library

In a country where Swahili is the mother tongue, it is ironic that 98% of the books in our library collection are in English and are published in the UK or USA. That is why we are always looking for ways to expand our collections of locally produced, Swahili language materials, particularly for children. Research has shown that access to mother tongue materials for neo-literates contributes greatly to ensuring ongoing literacy but ZLS simply does not have the money to buy Swahili books.

To help ZLS to celebrate World Book Day 2007, the British High Commission in Tanzania has given us a small grant to, amongst other things, buy 250 new Swahili books for our Central Library. Now that may not seem like a lot to some, but in effect, we have doubled the amount of Swahili children's books available for loan in our library. The Tanzanian publishing industry is very small so finding good quality Swahili books to buy takes some effort but with the help of the committed staff at CODE-established Children's Book Project and growing local publishers such as Mkuki na Nyota we managed to come up trumps.

Friday, 1 December 2006


For the first time ever, ZLS Central Library ran a week-long WORLD AIDS DAY programme from 27 - 1 December 2006 to promote HIV / AIDS awareness in Zanzibar.

115 primary and 150 secondary students from 10 schools within the Urban and West districts attended this programme and took part in video screenings with facilitated group discussions, small group reading sessions with Q&A, a quiz for secondary school students, and poster design and colouring activities for primary students.

With support from Zanzibar AIDS Commission, Save the Children UK and ZIFF, ZLS was also able to establish a dedicated HIV / AID information corner, with free pamphlets, magazines, books and audiovisual materials, in our Central Library on Unguja.

ZLS Central Library’s new collection of fiction and non-fiction books and audiovisual materials for children and young people about HIV / AIDS was well received and these materials are now available on loan to all library users.

Wednesday, 29 November 2006

A new central library for ZLS!

Thanks to the generous support of the Japan's Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGHSP) Programme, ZLS is now able to complete the construction of a new central library and headquarters for Zanzibar Library Services in Gymkhana, Zanzibar Town.

Due for completion in late 2007, this construction project will provide Zanzibar Library Services with enough space to:

  • Accommodate up to 200 library users at any one time
  • Create a dedicated children’s area, separate from the rest of the library, where ZLS staff will be able to offer more literacy and reading promotion activities for children without disturbing the other users of the library.
  • Set up new systems to manage the distribution of library materials and mobile library units to Teacher Centre and school libraries in isolated communities with greater speed and efficiency.
  • Develop a training area within the new library, expanding the current provision on in-service training to prospective school librarians to include a professional development resource area and training and support activities to strengthen the LIS community in Zanzibar.
  • Establish a computer room within the library with free Internet access for library members.

ZLS is still urgently looking for further help to equip the new library with furniture and computers, and to buy locally published books to fill the library shelves. If you or your organisation is in a position to help in any way, please do not hesitate to contact the Director of Zanzibar Library Services for more information about this ongoing project.

Monday, 31 July 2006

ZLS receives 35,000 books from the USA

There is a book famine in Africa, but not just for any old books...

ZLS has just received over 35000 books from Books For Africa to be distributed to educational libraries across Zanzibar. As we do not have the space to store such a large shipment, we are using a classroom at the local Teacher's Centre for a month to try as best we can to sort and pack up boxes of books that will be useful for schools and colleges here in Zanzibar.

Libraries in Zanzibar would not exist if it weren't for the generous support and donations we received from organisations such as Books for Africa, but shipments of this size are very difficult to manage, especially when most of the materials are in English and many of the staff members sorting the stock are not confident working in English. Some of the shipments we receive include books that are damaged, old, out-of-date, irrelevant or culturally inappropriate to the Zanzibar context. These essentially unusable books are being sent at considerable cost, from places with decent paper recycling facilities, to a small island nation without...

Many suppliers of donated stock are working hard to improve their systems so that there is a better match between the information needs of local library users and the books provided. (For more information about how book donation programmes (should) work, read CODE's publication 'Book donations for development' available at http://www.codecan.org/english/donations.html).

But what libraries in developing countries are really missing is the money to buy locally published books. Grants to buy indigenous materials would not only enable library services to buy books that are appealing, relevant and easy to read for local communities, but it will also help to strengthen and improve fledgling local publishing industries.

If you are thinking about donating stock to libraries in Zanzibar, PLEASE consider working with local publishers and library services to provide mother tongue materials and locally produced textbooks as these are the materials that are most sorely needed in our libraries at present.

Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Sorry state of school libraries on Zanzibar Island

Staff from Zanzibar Library Services visited all 164 government primary, secondary and mixed (primary and secondary) school on Unguja (Zanzibar Island) over a 10 week period from May – July 2006 in order to evaluate the current state of library provision to support learning and teaching on the island. ZLS intends to use the results of this survey to develop programmes to improve access for students and teachers to library services across the island.

Sadly, most school libraries do not resemble the well-stocked library at Lumumba Secondary in Stone Town (pictured above). Instead, nearly 60% of schools currently have no form of school library, with the absence of libraries in primary schools and schools in North A, B and Central districts being particularly notable. Current school libraries differ greatly in terms of form and functionality, with only 25 school libraries at present able to provide basic services to students.

Key challenges facing schools with libraries include:
  • inadequate, disorganised library environments;
  • inappropriate library stock;
  • insufficient and untrained library staff;
  • lack of integration of library usage into classroom teaching and learning;
  • school communities’ lack of interest in libraries;
  • lack of support for ongoing library development from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MOEVT)
Issues facing those schools without libraries include:
  • lack of funding for building, converting, equipping and / or stocking libraries;
  • school communities’ lack of interest in library development;
  • lack of leadership from MOEVT in encouraging schools in the development of new libraries (as outlined in the Zanzibar Education Policy 2006)

Based on the findings of this survey, ZLS prepared some recommendations for the MOEVT to consider, including:

  • Establishing cluster libraries for neighbouring schools to share;
  • Encouraging libraries at Teachers Centres to work more closely with students and schools;
  • Setting up mobile libraries for primary schools in rural districts;
  • Sponsoring regular training workshops for teacher-librarians to improve existing school libraries;
  • Assisting schools without libraries in drawing up project plans for the development of new libraries.

If you would like to receive a copy of the full survey report or are interested in learning more abot how you can support school library development in Zanzibar, please email Zanzibar Library Services

Saturday, 1 July 2006

Welcome to Zanzibar Library Services' blog

Help Zanzibar to build
libraries for learning,
libraries for life.

Books are something of a rarity in Zanzibar, as are libraries. Many schools and homes are without books and most people live far from the nearest library. Those books that are available are usually donated generously by charities in the UK and USA but are often old with out-of-date information or irrelevant to the culture, context and education system in Zanzibar.

Providing children with books that reflect their context, written in their own language, is the surest way to promote reading but when schools do not even have funds to buy desks for their pupils, finding money for Swahili storybooks and locally published textbooks is a pipe dream.

Zanzibar Library Services (ZLS) is committed to promoting libraries for literacy and lifelong learning in Zanzibar, by:

  • Managing the two public libraries in Stone Town (Unguja) and Chake Chake (Pemba) in line with the needs of local communities.
  • Supporting the development of educational libraries in Zanzibar through the provision of training and the distribution of library stock donated by library donor agencies such as Book Aid International, Books for Africa and Books Abroad.

In an environment with little history of any reading culture and very limited resources for education and culture, developing relevant libraries is no mean feat. As this weblog demonstrates, ZLS is constantly trying to come up with new ways to promote reading and libraries, and to help the people of Zanzibar to access the information they need to lead free, informed and productive lives.

If you would like to learn more about any of the projects mentioned in this blog, or would like to find out about projects in the pipeline and how you can help ZLS to get books into the hands of children and adults in Zanzibar, please DO contact us - we are always looking to build new partnerships, with individuals and organisations from around the world:

Zanzibar Library Services
PO BOX / SLP 4270
Tel: +255 24 2236414
Email: maktaba@zanlink.com