"Keep working on a plan. Make no little plans. Make the biggest you can think of, and spend the rest of your life carrying it out." Harry S. Truman

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Welcome back as we open the second part of our feature on sustainable libraries. Today, we visit the Karatu Library Project, in Yola, Northeastern Nigeria. Karatu is the Hausa word for reading, and as soon as I contacted Martha about Amadi's Snowman and our blog tour, she wrote back saying she was very interested to discover the book, as it is so relevant to the children's experience in her area, but also to have Karatu involved in the tour.

I asked Martha a few questions.

1. What is the difference between a library and a sustainable library?

A library could be just a collection of books and other resources. A sustainable library is one that will last over time because strategies and resources have been set in place for its future survival. These can be physical resources such as sturdy housing and resources like books and furnishings, but it is also very important to have good training take place so that local human resources can sustain the goals.

2. Tell us about the Karatu Library Project and how you got involved.

It is made up of a group of libraries - both community and school libraries which benefit from the book donations and training that comes from the central office in Yola, Nigeria. When I arrived in Yola, in 2005 I met Efada Udoh and we worked together to work toward the goal of helping develop sustainable libraries in the area. It has developed and you can see the progress on the following picture site.

3. What are the major challenges?

We are challenged by the lack of infrastructure available here in Northeastern Nigeria. Electricity and water are not easily available and it is difficult to bring resources here. There is also a lack of a reading culture here and we find that the rate of illiteracy is quite high, both among children and adults.

4. Do you have one or two success stories that you'd like to share with us?

At the Shagari community library there was one young reader, Nelly, would would read everything in sight. Her family didn't have the money to send her to a school where she would get a good education but when some University students in Nigeria heard about this they raised enough for her to attend school for the next several years.

We had the fundraiser at my hut, and then were able to rent the office and now that is actually turning into another community library.

Thank you, Martha, for shedding some light on the wonderful work accomplished by the Karatu network of libraries.

And now, I'm excited to show you a second movie shot in Yola by Ramesh Raparthy, our Film Instructor at the New American University of Nigeria who comes from Hyderabad, in India (still haven't gotten over that one).

As mentioned before during this tour, Internet connexions in Nigeria are terribly slow and unreliable at the best of times. This means that getting the material to me required massive doses of dedication and patience on the part of all the persons involved in the process. Until yesterday afternoon, I didn't know whether I would receive this movie on time, and then, I didn't know whether I would be able to share it here, because the file was so big. But it's here. Thank you, Ramesh, Amulya, Martha, and all those whose name I don't know who helped make this possible. Thank you also to Sarah and Toni, in the U.S. who worked late into the night to email me the link. Again, this has been a collaborative effort, and I'm so grateful to all of you. Enough said, now. Enjoy...

Thank you to the children of the Learn N' Play School in Yola.  I will take their questions to the children of Vidyaranya when I visit them next week. Who knows, I may end up posting their answers here, even if the blog tour is over. This whole project seems to have taken on a life of its own, and I'm happy to just go along and see where it takes me...


"A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life." Henry Ward Beecher

Tomorrow, we will wrap our tour up, and announce the winners of our challenges. Tilbury House, is giving away some wonderful prizes. See you then...


Janet Brown said...

What an achievement, Katia! Congratulations on a successful, interesting and inspiring tour.

Katia said...

Thank you, Janet, for your support from day 1.