IFLA meetings in Lyon, France, Part 1

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I arrived in Lyon Monday evening.  The conference had started Sunday but I just could not spend the whole week here, much as I wanted to.  I wish i could have!  Tuesday morning was my session.  A huge hall, over 300+ people attending. Probably the biggest group I have ever spoken to.  All librarians and book people.  Wow!  I wish I were that kind of electric performer, with bell bottoms and a giant belt buckle, swaying my hips, funky hipster beard, jokes, dramatic pauses, going loud for the kill... provoking people ("he's so fucking arrogant" or "that guy was amazing") but instead I was just me, earnest, trying to give people straight facts, very matter-of-fact.  Someday I am going to do a talk like Spinal Tap... "Hello Cleveland!!!!!"  Anyway, turned out I was first, and it went well I thought. Lots of people came up afterwards, impressed with the photobooks and the Hounde multimedia center project.  Some contacts to follow up with. 

My fellow panelists were all librarians doing wonderfully creative participatory content creation in their libraries. I especially liked Melissa Frost from from Rochester City school district libraries in New York, where the librarians have worked with schools to create hundreds of books authored by children.  Very impressive!

In the afternoon I went to the Africa section panel on libraries in Africa.  Some very interesting talks.  For me the presenters on francophone Africa were of course of most interest.  Eliane Lallemand from Lire en Afrique, who is doing very similar work to FAVL, but in Senegal.  Louise Balock gave an interesting overview of libraries in Cameroon, and also later Charles Kamdem Poeghela on the CLAC de Yaounde.  There was Stephane Sanon, from Universite d"Abomey-Calavi on Fondation Zinsou's small library project in Cotonou.  The common thread of all the country presentations is that government is doing very little to promote reading, and so non-profit organisations, often operated by volunteers (like FAVL!) are filling the gap.  It was inspiring but also depressing to hear the same thing in country after country.

La fête de la bibliothèque

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Sangaré Djibril writes:
C'est dans la bibliothèque de Kiembara que l'équipe de FAVL, Madame le Maire et sa délégation, ainsi que le Haut-commissaire de la province du Sourou se sont retrouvés. Après une visite guidée des participants par le bibliothécaire ; un message de bienvenue leur fut adressé. Ainsi, le coordonnateur  présenta la structure FAVL (Friends of African Village Libraries) et ses objectifs aux participants. Notez bien que la bibliothèque de Kiembara est la treizième du genre que FAVL vient d'inaugurer  au Burkina.

     En outre, madame le maire et sa délégation se sont dit satisfait par cette grandiose œuvre que FAVL leur  a  offert. Elle n'a pas oublié d'exhorter la population de Kiembara de bien prendre soin de cette bibliothèque, afin qu'elle demeure une source de recherche pour la génération présente et les générations  à venir. De même, l'équipe de FAVL a encouragé la population de Kiembara à la création des œuvres en langue locale, ce qui permettra à un grand nombre de population  de s'intéresser à la lecture.

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Reading in libraries in Ghana

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An update from Cletus Ayine, FAVL/CESRUD coordinator:

On 13th of August, I spent a day with some kids and their teacher in a community school about 10 kilometers away from the library. When I got there they were already there waiting for me to bring the story books. They were so happy when they saw me on the motorcycle with a large box containing different kinds of story books. We spent the time reading the story "Grace and Family". Most of the kids were able to read well except some few kids who had difficulties in reading. I was impressed with the way they were reading. However some of the kids were unhappy about the distance between their community and library; they wished I could set a day or two days aside for their school so that they also benefit from the library books. Some of them admitted that they heard of the library but because of the distance they have never been there. I had a great day with kids.

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After School Reading Program (ASRP) kids at Sherigu Library

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Cletus Ayine visited the session last week.  His report:

When I got there at about 11:00 am the counselor and librarian were already there with kids reading a story about how to make bread in the shape of crocodile (Crocodile Bread).
When they finished reading the book, I took the kids through a different activity; I took them through a creative art activity. The objective of this was to allow the kids to express their feeling about the ASRP and the importance of the library in their community.  After about an hour the kids came out with very interesting and educative pictures.  I was amazed at the creative way the kids showed their feeling and love for the program and the library at large.

They drew pictures comparing the Ghana Education Service method of teaching in the classroom and the ASRP method of teaching.  The kids showed in their pictures that GES method teaching does not give attention to all the kids in classroom. The teaching only moves on with those who can cope up. In the pictures they also showed that kids are always crowded in the class. The ASRP on the other hand, the kids showed that attention is given to each child, because each child is give a chair, book and teacher makes sure every kid participate effectively in the reading.

ASRP small.jpgThey also drew pictures again comparing two children, one dedicated his childhood life to school while the other dedicated his childhood to follow cattle (Cowboy) and eat fresh milk from cow.  After childhood life, the school child became a Medical Doctor while the Cowboy ended up as a "Truck Pusher".

Considering the above picture descriptions about the ASRP and the library at large, it is clear the program has achieved its greatest goal and therefore needs to be given another chance for more kids to benefits.  I was so happy at the way the kids were able to express importance of the ASRP and the library in the academic lives.

This email is to notify you that Friends Of African Village Libraries will be receiving a $27.36 donation from the AmazonSmile Foundation as a result of AmazonSmile program activity between April 1 and June 30, 2014. The donation will be deposited to your organization's bank account on or before Aug 15, 2014. It may take several days for the donation to appear in the account.

As you know, the AmazonSmile Foundation donates 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible AmazonSmile items and there's no cap on how much we will donate. This quarter, we also donated an additional $5 for any customer who made an eligible smile.amazon.com purchase in the days leading up to Father's Day. We are also developing new features and enhancements to grow the AmazonSmile program in the future.

Inauguration de la bibliothèque de Kiembara

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La cérémonie d'inauguration de la bibliothèque de Kiembara a eu lieu le mardi 12 aout 2014. Elle a vu la participation de tous les conseillers et la présence du haut-commissaire du Sourou en visite dans la commune.

Madame le Maire a pris la parole pour tout d'abord faire l'historique de cette bibliothèque. Elle a signifié que cette bibliothèque a été établie grâce à la famille Quesada en mémoire de leur sœur qui a servi comme volontaire du corps de la paix  en 2003-2005. Une minute de silence a été observée en sa mémoire. Elle est très satisfaite de cette œuvre dont la commune ne savait pas comment l'acquérir. Elle a remercié tous ceux qui se sont mobilisés pour l'établissement de ce joyau.

Le coordonnateur de FAVL a surtout insisté sur la fréquentation et le soutien pour qu'elle soit un jour un grand centre culturel pour la commune de Kiembara.

Monsieur Dakissaga représentant la famille Quesada, la donatrice encourage la population à en faire un bon usage. Il se porte garant de transmettre les remerciements à la famille.

Quant au haut-commissaire, il se réjouit de cette infrastructure qui vient appuyer le secteur de l'éducation dans sa province. Il invite les communautés à en profiter car la lecture ouvre toutes les portes au monde.
Un important lot de livres d'auteurs africains surtout au programme scolaire a été remis à la bibliothèque

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EIFL-PLIP at IFLA 2014 Aug 18-23 in Lyon

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I will be at IFLA starting next week, and am looking forward to meeting some of the EIFL people and grantees.

EIFL's Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) will have a strong presence at IFLA2014 - the International Federation of Library Associations World Library and Information Congress - which takes place in Lyon, France, in August. This is the 80th IFLA world congress. The conference takes place in the Lyon Convention Centre from August 16 - 22 and the theme this year is 'Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge'. EIFL-PLIP leadership and librarians from four libraries supported by EIFL-PLIP will present papers about innovative public library services and their impact, at the main conference and satellite meetings. At a special awards ceremony, EIFL-PLIP will present trophies and certificates to six winners of the EIFL Public Library Innovation Award for creative use of ICT in public libraries. The six winners will also feature in an EIFL-PLIP poster to be exhibited during the poster session. Click the links for further information about EIFL-PLIP's presentations, and about the IFLA2014 programme.

Using technology, printing books in Houndé Burkina Faso

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The FAVL team (Molly, Alidou and Dounko) is preparing some new local books for distribution, including a short book about the Ebola virus and how to prevent infection and treatment. In villages, information about Ebola is lacking.  people hear about it, but they do not have reliable information.  The kids and adult readers who frequent the libraries will find some good information (from WHO and UNICEF).

Here's a short report of a local teaching and aspiring author, who already has been working on some books, who visited the center and was delighted to find some "brothers and sisters in arms" in increasing literacy!

Le centre multimédia de HOUNDE a reçu les 04 et 05 Aout 2014 la visite de monsieur GOUABE ZEPHIRIN SOUKALO instituteur à LANFIERA dans la province du SOUROU. il a eu du plaisir de nous écouter pour ce qui est de  la présentation du centre , son fonctionnement et ses objectifs. Gouabé n'a pas caché sa joie de nous dire que c'est grâce à Molly Morisson  qui lui ai informé de l'existence du centre. Il a présenté ses œuvres déjà en cours dont il souhaite finaliser avant son retour.  Il s'agit de : La grève des bozo ; Le Malheur de Maurice  et La rescapée. Monsieur  GOUABE à approuvé toute sa satisfait du centre car pour lui le centre permettra de promouvoir les talents locaux. Il promet au retour faire la promotion du centre multimédia à Lanfièra et chercher les voix et moyens qui faciliteront les échanges. Il félicite FAVL  pour ses efforts  et souhaite une bonne continuation.

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Houndé multimedia center training

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Sanou Dounko reports on a training at the Rotary-funded multimedia center:

Le lundi 04 août 2014 a été marqué au centre multimédia de Houndé une formation sur la production des livres du centre. L'animateur Boué Alidou et moi même coordonateur régional sont les participants. Nous avons appris durant cette première journée comment scanner les images, les traiter et surtout utilisation de Microsoft Word. Pour nous c'est un grand plaisir d'apprendre pour pouvoir produire et promouvoir la lecture pour tous et aussi la promotion des talents locaux. La formation se poursuivra jusqu'au samedi 09 et sera sanctionné par la production d'au moins un livre par chacun de nous.

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Ebola and libraries

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Lots of stories about how "distrust" of Ebola quarantine and treatment can lead to perverse outcomes.  (The ratio of titillating "they fear white people" stories to "African health workers dying to help people with Ebola" is getting out of hand, BTW).

The horrific and dangerous situation impels me to once again reproduce my perennial back-of-envelope calculation about community libraries, your and everyone else's trusted source of information (posters, picture books, quietly competent librarians).  Let's say West Africa's population at-risk of Ebola (if the outbreak keeps growing) is 250 million.  Let's say 200 million are in rural areas.  Let's say each village library serves 4,000 people.  So you'd need 50,000 village libraries.  Let's say each one need $10,000 for startup and training and all that, and then $3,000 a year to run.  So we are talking $500m to start-up, and $150m to run per year.  So we are, for 10 years, talking about $2billion. 

I'm not saying libraries can prevent Ebola, but if part of the reason for the spread is too little trust in public information, not enough public information, not enough accessible public information, etc, then $2 b seems like a reasonable amount for something (like Ebola) that could cause tens of billions of dollars in damage... solely from a cost-benefit perspective.

But of course, if you funded more African village libraries and other preventative measures, you wouldn't be able to enjoy your iphones, teslas, cruise vacations, kindles, farm-fresh speckled eggs... Yes, library promoters are scolds. Get over it.

Concertation des bibliothécaires du Nord et Est

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Dans le souci de rendre plus opérationnelle, la gestion des bibliothèques villageoises, une rencontre débats a été organisée  à  la bibliothèque de Pobé Mengao dans la région Sahel le 17 juillet. Les bibliothécaires au nombre de cinq (Ouargaye, Bougounam, Kiembara,Pobé Mengao et Béléhédé)  et les coordonnateurs de FAVL ont pendant quatre heures échangé sur les difficultés rencontrées dans la gestion ainsi que la collaboration avec les Maires des communes.

Le retard et la perte des livres ont retenu beaucoup l'attention des participants. Il est ressorti que seules des campagnes de sensibilisation pourraient atténuer ce phénomène. Tous les cahiers de gestion ont également été examinés par les bibliothécaires pour harmoniser le système de collecte des données statistiques. A ce sujet les bibliothécaires ont été invités à fournir des données fiables.

La collaboration entre le bibliothécaire et la Mairie a été longuement discutée. Étant donné que les bibliothèques appartiennent au commune par conséquent le bibliothécaire doit informer régulièrement le maire du fonctionnement. Il doit en plus se présenter aux sessions du conseil municipal pour faire le compte rendu de ses activités.

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Return of a Peace Corps Volunteer to Pobé-Mengao

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Emilie writes:
After nearly three long years of moving to California, Elisee and I were finally able to make a trip back to Burkina Faso. We spent three great weeks visiting family and friends in Bobo-Dioulasso and Ouagadougou. But of course, one of the highlights of the trip for me was visiting friends and the library in Pobe-Mengao, where I lived for two years. Sidetrack: I have NOT missed the horrible transportation needed to get to village. A ten hour-long journey including a ride on the dreaded STNF bus. This bus has to be at least 40 years old. It barely runs, with an 80% chance of break down along the way...trust me, I've tested and confirmed this. The seat "cushions" consist of rusted metal frames, there are no windows--they've all been busted out, so you pray it never starts raining while riding--and the entrance aisle consists of a large board that attempts to hide the large corroded holes leading directly to the ground below. Though, once in Pobe, Elisee and I had an amazing time. I felt right at home and was thrilled to visit old friends.

The library was in decent shape, but definitely needed a little fix up. Due to a leaky roof, the rain had brought down dust and dirt that streaked and stained the beige walls. Though we had very limited funds, we were able to repair the roof and repaint the interior walls of the library, which definitely helped spruce the place up. Sita, a good friend of mine in the village, donated several trees and is currently prepping them to plant around the library. I was invited to plant one of the trees (cashew) just in front of the library. Finally, Elisee and I were pleased to be able to provide the library with more than 50 new books, including the titles most desired by students in the village. The books were all bought in Ouaga thanks to some kind donors (including my mom, thanks mom!) A definite hit with the kids were some 3D pictures books that we brought. It included those plastic red/blue glasses and the children had a blast looking at the pictures that seemed to pop up from the pages. Overall, a wonderful trip!


What a real reading culture looks like!

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From the National Post. HT: Marginal Revolution

When it comes to mail delivery service in Iceland, two days stand out from the rest. The first is when the IKEA catalogue arrives. The second is when the bókatíðindi shows up in the mailbox. "This is the Christmas catalogue," says Bryndís Loftsdóttir of the Icelandic Publishers Association, handing over a copy of last year's glossy, 208-page tome. "It's always the same," she continues in an amused tone. "Weeks before this is published we anxiously get phone calls from people asking, 'When is it coming? Can I get it now?'" A copy of the bókatíðindi, which lists approximately 90% of the books published in Iceland each year, is mailed to every household in the country, free of charge. While in most countries the presents under the Christmas tree come in all shapes and sizes, Loftsdóttir jokes that in Iceland one finds a row of neatly wrapped books. "The book is still the most popular Christmas present in Iceland," she says. There's even a name for the phenomenon: the "jólabókaflóð," which means Christmas book flood.

Night light through solar powered lanterns in Ghana library

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Cletus Ayine writes:
On Monday I decided to pay a night visit to the Gowrie-Kunkua Library to find out why the library has been recording very high figures since we started using the Solar Lamps six months ago. I got there at about 8:00 pm. There were so many kids in the library, kids as young as 5years old were there to have fun with one another. I counted roughly 30 kids in library. I went round all tables to see what these kids were doing, I saw that some of them were working mathematics, some were doing the home work given to them at school. A majority of the kids were the final year students of Junior High School who were busy studying towards their Basic Education Exams. Some illiterate young adults were also gathered in front of the library doing their storytelling.  According to the librarian, she is facing problems with library users during the night session, when it is time to close the library, users refuse to leave. This has compelled her to shift the closing time from 10:00pm to 11:30pm.  She added that the night patronage far better than the daily patronage.  I also observed that at night the entire Gowrie-Kunkua Community becomes very dark since there is no electricity in any part of the village. The library with its Solar Lamps becomes bright at night therefore serves as "A Lantern" for Kunkua community. This I believe actually attracts the kids to the library.


Lonely men like to read books?

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"Haynes McMullen, puzzling over why the settlers in the Far West were in "a much greater hurry to establish libraries than were residents of any other part of the country" when the "whites on the Pacific coast and in the Rockies were busily seeking their fortunes by mining or selling products to miners at high prices" looked at all the statistical variables, noted that the most significant was the low percentage of women in the population, and raised the question, "Could the abnormally low numbers of women have caused western men to turn to libraries?"
From J. E. Traue "The Public Library Explosion in Colonial New Zealand"  in Libraries & the Cultural Record Volume 42, Number 2, 2007 p. 156.
Libraries need activists, even today!

Coming to Louisville, he passed a competitive examination for principalship and was sent to direct a large elementary school known as Booker T. Washington. A few years later, he was given a temporary assignment as principal of Central High School. Meyzeek, concerned about the lack of adequate reference and reading materials at his school, boldly took his students to the Polytechnic Society Library, where after a few visits, they were refused admittance. Outraged by his students' humiliation, Meyzeek met with the library board and persuaded them to provide a "colored" branch library, with funds already pledged by the wealthy industrialist, Andrew Carnegie.

Health Reading and Computer Training Camps

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Kate Parry writes:
On July 8th to 10, UgCLA held a training workshop for the health camps that it is planning for five of its member libraries from August 11 to 16 this year. The project is funded by EIFL-PLIP (Electronic Information For Libraries). The five participating libraries are Access Knowledge at the Buiga Sunrise project in Mukono District, Busolwe Public Library in Butalejja District, CFYDDI (Centre for Youth Driven Development Initiatives) near Gayaza in Wakiso District, Nambi Sseppuuya Community Resource Centre at Igombe in Jinja District, and ORDISEF (Organisation for the Diffusion of Information on Society, Economy, and Finance) in Kasese.  A librarian attended from each of these libraries, together with a teacher and a health worker from the same community, and they all worked together to prepare themselves as facilitators of the health camps. They learnt how to teach basic computer skills, using software provided by the Maendeleo Foundation; they received ten sanitary kits for distribution to the girls who will participate in the camps and heard a presentation on feminine hygiene from a representative of the manufacturer, AfriPads; they heard a presentation from a health counsellor about sex education for adolescents; they discussed the camp curriculum that provided by UgCLA, previewed that books recommended for reading aloud to the participants, and discussed ways of assessing the participants' learning.  Finally, each library received a collection of books, stationery, games and other items for use during the camps. All the workshop participants took part enthusiastically in the activities and went away determined to make their camps a great success.

The workshop was held at Kabubbu Resort and Development Centre and was organized by Brenda Musasizi, UgCLA's coordinator and Enoch Magala, the project coordinator, with the help of UgCLA's intern from Youth in Development, Christine Madore. Kate Parry helped as a facilitator, and the Chairman and Secretary of UgCLA, Augustine Napagi and Justine Kiyimba, both attended. UgCLA would like to thank the Kabubbu Resort for its hospitality, the Maendeleo Foundation and AfriPads for partnering with us and donating material, and EIFL-PLIP, above all, for funding the project.

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David Pace photographs from Burkina Faso in Slate magazine

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FAVL friend David Pace has some amazing photography from Burkina Faso, and his work (and an interesting commentary) is featured in Slate magazine.  Check it out here.

When he stays in Bereba, Pace lives in a house on the outskirts of the village along a dirt road where people walk to their farms and fields in the morning and in the evening. One night about five years ago, Pace started taking photos as the people walked past. "The first photo I took, there was a young girl maybe 9 of 10 years old who had gone to gather firewood. She was walking down the path with her firewood, which she'd assembled into a ball on her head. The stack was half as tall as she was. It was this amazing sculptural hat. It just blew me away. I ran and got my camera and took a photo," he said. Once he started hanging out by his door and paying attention, Pace started noticing a more or less steady stream of people coming down the path on foot, on their bikes and motorcycles, or in carts drawn by donkeys or oxen every night from just before sundown until just after sundown. Sometimes, they came with firewood, other times with pots full of food they'd harvested. Most of the time it was pretty dark when the procession started, so Pace began using a flash, which gave the photos in his series, "Sur La Route," (which means "On The Road" in French) a surreal, cinematic look.

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Books, reading, and libraries relevant to Africa by Michael Kevane, co-Director of FAVL and economist at Santa Clara University.

Other contributors include Kate Parry, FAVL-East Africa director, FAVL Burkina Faso representative Koura Donkoui, FAVL Burkina Faso program manager Krystle Nanema, and FAVL friends Emilie Crofton and Elisee Sare.

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