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.