Rwanda’s Public Library is working hard to get people reading. With an ambitious vision for library services within the country, the executive director of Rwanda Library Services, Jennifer Turatsinze, explains several initiatives are ongoing to engage more people all over the country.
“Today, there is patent growth with the book collection in diverse fields. Our website, Internet connection and other digital equipment is also available for electronic readers”, explains Turatsinze.
She adds that, as they aim to provide accessible and globally connected libraries, Kigali Public Library is enhancing outreach channels that will enable information access throughout the country, and not only from their main branch in Kigali.
The library collaborates with public schools to offer reading materials with an aim of developing an informed and educated society. Turatsinze explains that the library is creating reading and writing clubs and is donating books to schools – as many as 180,000 books are being distributed to the schools, where reading and writing campaigns will be carried out.
The library service aims to establish community libraries all over the country, enabling students to access reading materials in their areas.
Jean Baptiste Sengiyumva, a medical lab student, commends the library for enabling him to access books in his field of study. “There are certain books that I couldn’t find in my school library, but I could find them in the Public Library,” he says. “I pay Frw 10,000 for the whole year and can access Internet every day.”
During holidays, the Kigali library organizes IT training and English lessons for its members. Recently, working hours were increased from 8 am to 8 pm so that working-class citizens can also access the Library.
In an effort to encourage people to become library members, more services will be offered. Registration costs Frw 10,000 per year and members are given a card and a library number that enables them to borrow books in small or large amounts. Membership also enables them to access the Internet and diverse electronic equipment.
“We receive applications for both schools and individual memberships on a daily basis and today more than 1000 people have already registered,” Turatsinze explains. “Once registered, one can have full usage of all the available materials and can participate in the training programs.”
The number of users has also increased to about 150 people per day. During holidays, the library receives such a large number of youth that they put up tents for extra space. Turatsinze sees the increase as an indication that public interest in the library is growing, and reading culture is taking hold in Rwanda.