Yesterday I was passing at the Public Library in Moshi and my mind started a marathon! I thought, why is this not one of the main centers in my beautiful town? It looked boring. Old fashion. Unattractive. I thought where do secondary students hang out on Saturdays and /or evening these days? In my teenage years as well as school holidays, I spent lots of in the Moshi library. I loved it. It was a social place. I remember my sister, Alilya, making many friends there.
So yesterday, I got very disturbed. I wanted to tweet and blogged immediately. But I struggled. I couldn’t do it. I’ve blogged about the University of Dar-es-Salaam library before. I’m yet to find out if there are any changes done almost 5 years after my blog. I was wondering if, with my limited influence, a blog entry can contribute to any change. I know that I should be the change I want to see- but often I feel that am not doing my part. May be I need to act more than think or write. Do I even write enough? mmmh…that’s the question! Ok, let me try and express my thinking below:
- My first thought was that KNCU (which has a signature building opposite the library) should invest and put a coffee shop inside the library. At the moment, KNCU rans a very good quality coffee shop (union cafe) in Moshi. So I thought it could have another branch inside the library (then I remembered, sadly, KNCU can only do that in future, perhaps. Now they have to first save its bank -KCBL- from collapsing. What an unfortunate tragedy for already struggling smallholder coffee farmers in Kilimanjaro!!!!). Well, somebody else can do that. The impact of having a coffee shop inside a library is well known- for those who love to spend time in good libraries and bookshops as I do- even if in situations that I’m not reading, know how the ambiance uplifts and creates a positive energy. A coffee shop inside our public libraries will inspire people towards the culture of going to the library- eventually they will start reading books and use literacy services that can be obtained in the libraries.
- Learning hubs. Public libraries can be a place for learning (beyond reading) and provide public services – such as documentary showing (we can re-arrange the library settings to accommodate such events), IT hubs (we can have few computers in place where youths and kids can learn – on their own- IT technics such as coding, programming, etc), public talks, etc. The librarians need to be innovative and dynamic to ensure people walk in there.
- Make use of available free e-books (a significant number can be downloaded for free) and have tabs and screens through which the public could come and read them in the library.
- Books sharing centre . If the libraries cannot afford to buy as many books as any library should have, they can be innovative to ask public members (who have books and are ready to share to bring them to the library- and the library will administer the borrowing and return). This is to encourage the reading and sharing culture.
- Kids learning centre– the library can have a place/room for kids to learn with colors, and other learning games- where parents are encouraged to bring their kids and use the facilities.
- Adult coloring and other learning-based therapy centre– there are some pretty cheap therapies for adult and the modern library should facilitate them since they are learning based. The library can put in place coloring books etc, whereby an adult could come and the library photocopies pages (at a fee) from the coloring books for them to color. Other adult (learning based ) games can be put in place in the public libraries to encourage learning and release stress.
- Civic centres– where people can learn about their rights and duties as citizens- through many ways. Public libraries can fight apathy and build communities. It can enhance citizenry.
- etc etc etc –
Back to my title- why do I argue that revamping public libraries can contributes towards actualization of our industrialization dream? Because modern day industries are those that require creative thinking. The manual jobs can be done by machines and robots. We all know we cant compete with them. I’ve reflected and blogged before about this- and I think if we do not invest in creative and smart thinking on our children, youths, and adults- we will continue to be a “village” in a fast moving world. So, as we work to build skills in our schools- lets do a simultaneous job in our libraries. Let’s revamp the country-wide public libraries that we have.