Discussion With Dr. Kinya – Librarian and Lecturer At Nazarene University in Nairobi

As a few people were curious about all of the points Dr. Kinya and I discussed, and the recommendations he passed on, I am posting the summary of my notes taken during our meeting.

Dr. Kinya’s Comments and Advice on Implementing a Library Program for Government Schools in Kenya

– Lack of Guidance in Kenya (and East Africa) Concerning Library Standards

– In Kenya there is no National Policy on library practices and procedures

– Thus, we need to determine ourselves through consultations and collaborations, what the challenges facing Kenyan school libraries are.

– His vision is 1 school – 1 library – 1 librarian. Dr. Kinya believes this is the solution to achieving the Vision 2030 goals.

– The issue concerning low literacy levels and academic performance is not a problem with the curriculum, but the scarcity of resources in schools to support the curriculum

– Sustainability is the most important aspect of a Library Program – who will take over when we leave?

Primary Schools – Local books, National Identity

– Local collection linkup is more important in primary school curriculum support than secondary school.

– Primary school resources tend to change less than primary schools

– 50% percent made mostly from local artists/writers

– Place an emphasis on choosing books that discuss local activities of that community – be it fishing, mining

– Make sure pick books that promote nationalism, and discuss national identity

– Books such as these – those being by local writers and those discussing national identity, are important as it demonstrates to the students that their society appreciates, celebrates, and invests in their local culture and values.

Secondary Schools – Curriculum focus, Academic future

– In secondary school are starting to teach students analytical and critical thinking – to do this they need the resources.

– 50% local writers and publishers, but must be tailored to curriculum

– Also make a portion of the books those that introduce them to the academic world and specializations – whether it is law, psychology, entrepreneurship, etc

– An element should include the classic collections

– Cautions not to give them titles to the disadvantage of the curriculum

– Recommends ration of 5-3-2 (curriculum, academic specialization, recreational reading)

Village School Library – Community centered, Community supported

Dr Kinya firmly believes, as do I, that community members should be able to use school libraries. His argument is that when this happens, these community members also become stakeholders, making them loyal supporters and fierce protectors of the library and its contents. He also said that the community would be much more willing rally together and provide support for the library, such as funding the salary for a full-time librarian – something which is well beyond the financial scope of a village school’s budget.

– Select books that talk of their culture

– Important to tailor resources to what that community does, and what they believe in

– Give them titles that would affect the entire community regardless of sex or age- e.g. health and washing hands – make this a particular percentage

– Give a portion that are in their local language

– In this process the parents will see the value in these books and reading as their children bring them home – that it is content relevant to them that they can actually use

– A certain percentage must be curriculum

– Overall, make sure 30-40% of books are about local issues

– Stage it, so that parents and children are drawn in from the first donation, and then having secured the interest and understanding of the value of library, make the second donation books that support curriculum, so that they will actually be used properly

Celebrate Uniqueness

– Emphasized – every school, and every library within a school is unique on its own, and its needs should be assessed individually

– Must tailor the collection to the user

– Need to know what is dominant in a community (is it religion, pastoralism, farming, small trade)

– In trying to inculcate value of library to the students, if you make the books relevant to their worldview, this will happen.

Involve the Parents

– Dr. Kinya believes that with every school library, whether it is for National, Provincial, or District schools, and whether they are primary or secondary, the parents must be involved and included in the opening of the library, and any new acquisitions

– With all of the libraries he has studied and researched, he observed this has been one thing that has failed in most libraries

– For the majority of students, it is the parents who push them supervise them, and follow up with them, and it will be the parents who encourage them to go to the library

Library Constitution

– Care of books must be an introductory part of any student’s relationship with their library – to fully understand what is at stake, what could be lost if they don’t care for the contents

– It is when students fully understand this, that they take ownership

– To teach them that ‘this is our property, and we got it because somebody valued it, and sustained it, and passed it on. So what must I do now? I must protect it.’

– A “Library Constitution” is fundamental to a collection as it entrenches the duties and responsibilities that come with the privilege of ownership – which is very challenging in developing public school

– He recommends giving them a commitment to recite – an oath of sorts.