BFFF community library (BCL) is located in Lwanyi global village centre, a cluster of ten united villages 5 km south-west of Masaka town. BFFF AFRIKA, the umbrella organisation, is a community-based organisation that works with 10 villages in the areas of health, education and training, environmental conservation and management, agriculture, microfinance, and ICT services. The library is one of several sections of the BFFF building, which also houses a day-care centre for orphans, a community guest house, ICT support centre, microfinance office, vocational training workshop, soon-to-be-operational healthcare centre and a community restaurant.
The library has four local volunteers, but they don’t all work at the library at the same time. In addition, BFFF has international volunteers on a regular basis. The library started as a youth reading club in 2008, and is not a fully-fledged library that also offers adult education classes, a mobile library and various other training programmes in addition to the library functions.
There are eleven primary schools and seven secondary schools and three universities within 6 km of the library. The library cooperates closely with about seven primary schools and five secondary schools through the School Mobile Library and Reading Clubs Programme on a regular basis.
BCL was initially started as a youth reading club of BFFF in 2008. In 2009 the library building was finished, and the library was registered as a community-based organisation. The initiative came from Princemawanda Edwardcharles, with the help of some of his friends. Princemawanda and two local volunteers were trained by Masaka Municipality Public Library in 2009.
The library invites community leaders, health workers, teachers, women’s groups, youth groups for a monthly session on HIV/AIDS each time with a different topic. Princemawanda and, when possible, an international volunteer, facilitate these sessions, which last three hours. About 15–20 people come every time.
Every Wednesday after lunch there is a three-hour long adult literacy class with about 30 participants, divided into two groups, headed by Fiona and, when possible, an international volunteer.
Every Friday after lunch there is a computer literacy class in the ICT support centre. Children from the eight partner schools are invited, and a total of 40 children are trained in computer use. There are two trainers in each group of five children, and each lesson lasts one hour, giving a total of four hours.
The mobile library is usually operated by Augustine, who is sometimes assisted by an international volunteer. Every day the mobile library pays a visit to two villages, where a literacy focal person, a trained volunteer, is responsible for the borrowing of books. The literacy focal person acts as a librarian in his village, keeping track of borrowed books, and reminding people to return or renew the books that they have borrowed when they forget. When the mobile library comes to the village, it stays for two hours, giving people time to borrow new books. In the villages that have a school, the meeting usually takes place there.
On Thursday afternoons children come to the library, and Fiona takes them to the playground 100 metres from the library for reading aloud, playing, looking at pictures and painting. Between 30 and 50 children usually come for this activity.
On Mondays Princemawanda and Gonzaga go to the partner schools carrying out the same activities as Fiona does in the village, and in addition they let the children write stories and give lessons on how to borrow books. Sometimes they conduct quizzes and debates.
On Mondays Lydia and Betty, together with international volunteers, meet with the members of BFF Women Vision for three hours to discuss different topics, such as gender, domestic violence, reproductive health etc. They also learn how to read with their children at home, and they write their personal stories.
When the library started in 2008, the director donated 100 books. The following year the Masaka Municipality Public Library donated 1000 books, and the librarian at Kitengesa Community Library donated 500 books that he had received through Canadian friends.
The library charges a membership fee of 5,000 shillings from adults, while all children and school goers may use the library for free. In addition, the foreign volunteers’ contribute some money for their stay, and some of this goes the general BFFF expenses, including the library and allowance for the local volunteers.
Some books and furniture have been donated by individuals, organisations and libraries over the years.
The library consists of two rooms; the main library, 3,5 by 5 metres, and the reading room, which is 3 by 8 metres. The main library holds the books and the librarian’s desks, while the reading room has chairs and a sofa. In addition, the day-care centre can be used as a reading space after the day-care classes. Due to limited reading space most of the users borrow books from the library and reas them elsewhere.
The collection of books consists of about 2000 titles, but a large number of these are in the mobile library at any time. At the library there are only foreign books (no textbooks), while the textbooks and African storybooks are in the mobile library collection.
The library has got four volunteers, two full time and two part-time. Nansikombi Fiona is a nursery school teacher, and she is pursuing an advanced certificate in teacher education. She teaches the orphans in the day-care centre during the daytime, and works in the library or with library activities after lunch. Kamya Augustine completed O level, and is also pursuing an advanced certificate in teacher education. He is in charge of organizing all transport in addition to the mobile library. Kibirege Gonzaga completed his diploma in finance and accounting and is the library administrator. He is in charge of logistics and procurement. The library director, Princemawanda Edwardcharles, has just completed his degree in social work and social administration. His responsibility is the administrative work and general supervision. The two full-time volunteers are offered free accomodation, lunch and an allowance of 30,000 shillings by BFFF.
In each of the villages that the Mobile Library caters two, there is a literacy focal person who functions a librarian.
BCL has a board with six members that convene twice a year, or when the need arises. They are responsible for the general leadership of the library including monitoring and supervision of the library work.
The library is mainly used through its mobile library programme and organised activities such as Children’s Reading Club, but there are also some who come to the library to borrow books and read from the library. All kinds of people come, school children as well as adults. According to the records the average number of books borrowed directly from the library every month is about 15.
At the library there is a notebook for writing down borrowings, one for daily attendance and another for the books in the library’s collection. Each of the ten literacy focal persons keeps a notebook with records of books that they have lent out.
The library opening hours are 9 am to 5 pm on Monday through Saturday. If a student doesn’t return a book, one of the library staff goes to their teacher in an effort to get it back. If an adult fails to return a book, the literacy focal person in that community goes to the borrower’s home to pick it up. If a book is lost, the library asks the borrower to buy a new book. So far, this has happened five times.
In 2012 the library is planning to introduce new library activities, including reading tents in schools and villages and a school reading programme.
BLC has decided to give special attention to special days by organising interesting and fun activities on these days, including World Book Day (3 March), International Youth Day (12 August), World Literacy Day (8 September), International Peace Day (21 September), BFFF’s Day (13 October), International volunteers’ Day (November) and World Aids Day (1 December).
BFFF Community Library
Lwanyi Global Village Centre
Masaka District [Central Uganda]
Take a taxi or bus from any park to Masaka (XX km). Take a boda-boda to BFFF House, Lwanyi trading centre (XX km).
BFFF Community Library
PO Box 1000
Princemawanda Edwardcharles (director): 0776 579 377 Mawanda Lydia (BFFF secretary): 0781 573 831
General: firstname.lastname@example.org Princemawanda Edwardcharles (director): email@example.com