Kenyans will soon have virtual library services thanks to a government initiative to establish the service.
According to outgoing Sports, Heritage and Culture Cabinet Secretary Amb Amina Mohamed, the Government through Kenya National Library Service (KNLS) was establishing the online library at a cost of Sh250 million.
In a speech read on her behalf by KNLS CEO Dr.Charles Nzivo, Amina said that KNLS through the support of the Ministry and other development partners are coming up with data bases including content and professional journals from both subscribed and open sources.
“The virtual library has already be initiated by the Ministry and the Government of Kenya and will be subscribed by any Kenyan from anywhere at any time,” added the CS.
She said that it was a clear demonstration of the government commitment to ensure its citizenry is empowered with information resources, adding “such public spaces enable our youth and all community members to unlock their potential of personal growth.”
“Ministry has funded the establishment of a public virtual library to the tune of Sh250 million through KNLS board which will be accessible anywhere across the country, it will make it possible for Kenyans to access Library Services virtually and remotely from any location at any time of the day or night,” expounded the CS.
The Speech was read recently at Eldama Ravine Town in Koibatek Sub-County during the official opening a new library constructed by National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF) to a cost of Sh70 million.
“We have various library projects implemented by various MPs through NGCDF and County governments like the Eldama Ravine, Mikumbuni, Awendo and Chiga and thus they have facilitated in the growth and development of libraries in those areas,” said the CS praising the partnership.
Mohamed further added that the launch is of great significance to the people of Eldama Ravine as it will have a direct impact on the education and living standards of the people of Eldama Ravine.
The CS urged the people of Eldama Ravine to utilize the assets and resources provided by the facility responsibly for self-improvement.
“The standards of education in the area will improve, farmers will get crucial information on alternative farming methods and entrepreneurs will get more innovative while creative ideas will emerge to enhance competitiveness in the business world,” said her message.
“It is said the more that you read, the more things you will, the more that you learn, the more places that you will go, you will be able to compete with anybody elsewhere,” said the CS.
KNLS CEO on his part said Baringo County has three libraries in Kabarnet, Meisori in Baringo South and now the Eldama Ravine one.
“KNLS is mandated to assist members of the public to access information for knowledge so that they can develop individually and the nation at large. The KNLS has been in operation for the last 57 years,” said Mr Nzivo.
The land was allocated in 2002 by the then DCC. He thanked the Constituency CDF chairperson and the DCC for the crucial role they played in the project.
The building was done in three phases with first phase been the junior section, the second being the teen and adult section and he third phase catered for the CDF offices.
The KNLS equipped the library with 5000 copies of reading material and pumped another Sh2 million for the furniture with NGCDF giving the same amount.
“We have recruited all the staff locally and no staff is from outside this place,” assured the CEO to the complaint of the local Nubian community who claimed to be sidelined in the employment opportunities.
He encouraged the residents to pass the information so that people can utilize the facility, saying the library is the safest place even for the children. The library will also aid research and improve knowledge as well as promote cultures which can be documented.
“The children who have no conducive reading space or whose parents cannot afford books can benefit from the facility,” added the CEO.
“When the history of Eldama Ravine will be written this library will be part of it as it will benefit generations to come, libraries are community universities that can assist those who are unable to join the schooling system to advance their education,” said the CEO.
Koibatek Deputy County Commissioner Omar Ali thanked the CDF for constructing the library and urged the residents to make use of the facility saying it was highly subsidized and charging a maximum Sh20 for 13-year-old and above whereas it is free for the lower age group.
NGCDF board director Dr Isabel Waiyaki said the project was started in 2013 and was happy that it was complete thanking all those who participated including Karen Roses which donated ICT equipment.
“The Project will boost education in years to come up to the 4th generation,” said the NGCDF board member
“CDF was established under CDF act of 2013 and amended in 2016 to make sure we check development in the community and ensure reduction of poverty and enhancing regional equality,”
She expounded that over Sh420 billion has been disbursed to constituencies since 2003 and the board goes around to see the impact of the funds. Eldama Ravine Constituency has been receiving close Sh137 million annually.
The fund supports functions aligned to national government such as Education and Security. A bigger chunk of the Sh420 billion has gone to education, Sh237 million has been used to put up school infrastructure such as classrooms while Sh129 million has been used for bursary in the last five years in Eldama Ravine Constituency.
According to the director, 26 new day secondary schools in the Constituency have been built to improve and support the 100 per cent transition and retention policy from Primary to Secondary school.
“There are 137 schools 92 being primary public and 45 secondary public schools with an enrollment of 25,000 and 12,000 respectively who will benefit from the new library in addition to the other members of the public,” said Waiyaki.
The NGCDF has also fully supported the Uzalendo School, a centre of excellence modelled like the Starehe Boys Centre which offers free education to bright and needy children, the NGCDF has contributed Sh15 million for the construction of a dormitory and a dining hall. The school sponsors 500 students 70 per cent of whom are able to join university.
“NGCDF has pumped over Sh70 million for the construction of the three storey library. We are not only improving the reading culture but also improving values and cultures for the generations to come,” said the Director.
By Christopher Kiprop