Kitengesa library update from Kate Parry #Uganda

The librarians at Kitengesa, Moses and Muhammad, are excited to be participating in a project called Learning Circles. The project is supported by the National Library of Uganda in partnership with EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries), the Maendeleo Foundation (which promotes the use of computers in Uganda), Peer To Peer Uganda (which works with Uganda Youth, particularly to promote health), and Wehubit (, a European-funded NGO, which aims to boost digital social innovation). The purpose of the project is to teach participants to access and use information from the internet, using either their smartphones, if they have them, or computers, which the Kitengesa Community Library is now better placed to provide, having purchased two new ones last year.

The first step for our librarians was to attend a workshop in July 2022, which was organized by the National Library in Kampala. There they learnt how to access appropriate information on the internet and how to explain it to a group of up to twenty village participants. Then they returned home, found and downloaded appropriate material (it was a YouTube video about how to make paper bags), and organized a group of people to come in to the library for three days in one week in December to access the video and follow it to make paper bags themselves. Moses and Muhammad helped each participant to open a Google account and find the URL; then everyone made their first paper bags using newspaper; once they got it right made the final products with they went on to make the final products with sugar paper, which the librarians provided. Everyone went home with a bag, and one was given to me when I visited just over a week ago.

In November the two returned to Kampala to report on their success and learn about what had been done in other libraries. The organizers were evidently pleased with their report, for they are now planning three more Learning Circles at which participants will learn how to make note books, charcoal stoves, and liquid soap, for all of which Muhammad has already downloaded all the information from the internet. Participants will be asked to contribute to the cost of materials; those for the books will cost 300 shillings each, and once the participants have them, they can sell them for 500 shillings apiece; the idea is to show them how to make things that they can either sell or use themselves. All the participants were fully engaged, I hear, and certainly the bag that I have is quite nice (it is decorated with a nice picture of a bird, and would do well for wrapping small items).