KEY has built 45 libraries, which, apart from one in Tanzania and one in Ghana, are spread across Kenya’s major regional blocs. We don’t just build libraries. We establish programs and management practices that keep libraries sustainable and relevant, and get students and teachers excited about going to the library. Our results and success speak for themselves. Our libraries have won awards, including first, second and third place in National Library of the Year Awards. Our students are thriving in them, winning local and international awards for their writing, reading, debating and science fair projects. Our interactive whiteboards, computers, games and up-to-date diverse books from major national, regional and international publishers are equipping teachers with new, innovative ways to teach and better engage with students. Our record strikes a balance between building inspiring school libraries, advocating for them and using them as a practicum for children to learn, apply and practice the skills of a democracy.

our values

  • Self-leadership
  • Knowledge
  • Excellence
  • Openness
  • Respect

Legislative Goals

In 2018 we worked in partnership with the Kenya Law Reform Commission, Kenya Library Association, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Culture, The Goethe Institute and NGOs in education. Together, we drafted Kenya’s first National Policy and Guidelines Framework for School Libraries as a road map for building and monitoring 30,922 more libraries in Kenya.

Our approach

KEY’s turnkey libraries are created after carefully considering the specific interests, attributes, and needs of the school’s students, teachers and wider community. Some KEY libraries are made from refurbished shipping containers, while others are new-build libraries or renovated spaces turned into libraries. Each library is outfitted to ensure a safe, clean, and comfortable environment that promotes learning, positive values and education for democratic citizenship. Critical to the success and sustainability of the program is KEY’s operational approach, which helps engage children, teachers and the community in the long-term stewardship of their library and its effective and sustainable use. After handing over the library, we stay in touch to follow the library’s general use and its impact on teaching quality, the children and their community.

Our students are empowered by our Library Constitution. Our libraries are governed and managed by a library council made up of students, a teacher and parent representative. The Library Constitution integrates democratic values and rights and choice in the use, governance and management of the library.


    Our primary goal is to help students acquire meaningful levels of literacy that will form a critical building block in their future. This means giving every student access to a library filled with inspiring and educational books. If a school also has the capacity to support technology, we additionally take the necessary steps to provide computers and interactive whiteboards. We provide Koha library software, eKitabu and Sugarizer software. We also provide training in basic research and technology skills, as well as stress the importance of IT in teaching, learning and applications in day-to-day life.


    We provide a system that helps students, teachers and the community become long-term stewards of their library. Our standard package includes: A rules handbook, a trackable book checkout system, a book labelling system, a governance constitution document, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and a wide range of student-centric and values-driven leadership posters.


    Our students govern and manage their library. They are educated about their constitution, their rights, and read from a wide variety of more than 2,000 specially selected books. These cover regional, national and international issues in current affairs, politics, history, science, culture, religion, business and economics. We also ensure that up to 50% of titles are Africa-centric.


KEY’s mission is to drive meaningful change in Kenya’s educational system by providing fully functioning school libraries in Kenya.

  1. Access for all

    Our vision is that every school-aged child has access to the resources of a library because it is key to a child’s progress and potential, regardless of the child’s background.
  2. Foster engaged students

    We promote the use of the library as a place to practice constitutional and democratic rights. We encourage its use as a forum for good governance, student activism, freedom of expression, self-discovery and personal development.
  3. Align with Kenyan objectives

    We ensure that our measures are compatible with national interests and align with the general objectives of Kenya’s Primary and Secondary Education Syllabus, its 2010 Constitution and Vision 2030 development program.


KEY’s library program is results oriented. We look to the best practices of successful education programs from around the world to hone our methods and use our resources as effectively as possible. Always an ongoing process, we also monitor relevant journals, news outlets and professional opinions for the latest developments and findings in our field. While this information does not necessarily shift our policies or program development, it does help in refining the KEY strategy and approach.

Additional Research