Friends of African Village Libraries Newsletter December 2017
FAVL’s mission is to help create and
foster a culture of reading. Generous
donors and volunteers enable us to work
with local communities and non-profit
organizations to support libraries in
Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Uganda, to
develop innovative literacy programs
and to provide ongoing library staff
As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization,
donations to FAVL are tax-deductible.
A team of North American volunteers
supports the FAVL paid staff in Africa.
Current fundraising priorities:
Building an endowment for each of
the FAVL-supported community li-
Renewing stock of locally-purchased
books by African authors.
Producing more micro-books in local
languages and languages of instruc-
West Africa Director
Professor of Economics
Santa Clara University
East Africa Director
Professor of English
City University of New York
Address: P.O. Box 90533,
San Jose, CA 95109
Website & Blog: www.favl.org
The Year in Review
FAVL’s aims to promote reading in rural villages in Afri-
ca, where people are living tough, challenging lives and
have few opportunities to realize their potential. Our
work was supported in 2017 by generous donations and
grants. We continue to assist 34 libraries in Burkina Faso,
3 libraries in northern Ghana, Kitengesa library in Ugan-
da, and the Uganda Community Libraries Association,
with over 40 member libraries. Highlights of 2017 in-
clude the following (there will be more about some of
these inside), in addition to regular work of supervising,
training, and assisting libraries.
In Burkina Faso:
A second annual conference was held in Ouagadougou, with 29 librarians from
around the country attending.
30 new photo books and 10 new titles in the Houndé Multimedia Center Kikirou
illustrated series were printed and distributed.
Summer reading camps were held in 23 libraries.
The 21 new libraries that opened in 2016 continue to operate reasonably well.
We don’t want to sugarcoat operations: there are a lot of challenges. For exam-
ple, several libraries are in zones where terrorist attacks (killing and kidnapping
village councilors and local representatives of government, attacking police sta-
tions, etc.) are happening almost every week. Also, the national government,
emerging from the difficult political transition of 2014-15, has been slow to allo-
cate adequate funding to local authorities, and this has impacted the payment of
librarian salaries. One librarian worked for 10 months without receiving his sala-
ry (which he finally did this past November).
After-school and summer reading programs were organized in all three libraries.
300 books, primarily African novels, Ghanaian children’s books, and school
books, were purchased in Accra, to replenish book collections.
All three libraries were repainted and old furniture was replaced and other
maintenance conducted. All three libraries are now connected to the national
The Uganda Community Libraries Association (UgCLA) held its 7th annual con-
ference in July 2017.
Kitengesa Library hosted in August a women’s health camp facilitated by Cana-
dian medical students (from the University of British Columbia). The camp cov-
ered topics such as nutrition, hygiene, first aid, and HIV/AIDS and safe sex.
In the United States:
Special thanks to FAVL board member Sue Frey who completed her board term
and is enjoying some well-deserved time off. You have helped FAVL so much
over the years! FAVL also received great service from Santa Clara University
student interns in 2017. Maria Haddad-Khouri and Bethany Borowsky continued
their amazing work through June 2017, and then transitioned to other adventures,
while Kimmie Meunier signed on as intern in Fall 2017, primarily working on
helping to produce French photo books. Thanks interns!
FAVL also received a generous donation from the Santa Clara University Li-
brary. We appreciate the support.
More than 140 donors contributed over the past year to support FAVL, with do-
nations totaling $71,000. Operating expenses are about $75,000 a year (plus grant
funds that go directly to in-country operations), so your support is very much
appreciated! Our U.S. overhead expenses are only about $3,000 per year, all oth-
er funds go to support libraries, in-country operations, and reading programs.
The three FAVL/CESRUD libraries located in the northern region of Ghana had an amazing year under the leadership of
FAVL Coordinator Paul Ayutoliya. All three libraries were repainted inside and out, and the attractive new rooms continue to
attract large numbers (about 1,000 visits a month!) of readers and students studying for school. The librarians organized
amongst themselves a small book club, and read and discussed two works of fiction: Tail of the Blue Bird by Nii Ayikwei
Parkes and The Great Ponds by Elechi Amadi. The next book up for the reading group is Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. Paul
Ayutoliya went to Accra three times in 2017, to visit Jordan Nu library, to visit Osu Children’s Library Fund libraries, to con-
sult with officials from the Ghana Regional Library Board, and to purchase several hundred new books for the three libraries.
He was also able to briefly meet with author Nii Parkes. Over the summer, the libraries again partnered with local schools to
host several weeks of reading activities during the school break. The “vacation classes” were different in each library, as librar-
ians worked with local teachers to design their own programs. Moreover, during the school year the libraries organized After
School Reading programs.
The libraries also hosted
several quiz competitions.
All in all, the libraries are
becoming good communi-
ty resources for improving
and encouraging reading.
There is great support
from FAVL’s local partner
CESRUD and especially
its director Rex Asanga.
Special thanks to some
wonderful donors from
Mississippi and Chicago
who have supported these
libraries for many years.
Uganda Community Libraries Association
Annual Conference 26-28 July 2017
Update from Ghana Libraries (Sumbrungu, Sherigu, and
UgCLA held its 7th annual conference at Kawempe Youth Centre in July 2017, the tenth anniversary of the Association’s
founding. The conference was opened by the Rev. Bobson Musamali, a member of Kawempe Youth Centre’s Board of Direc-
tors. The conference theme was “New technologies: their implications for libraries,” and the first session was a plenary talk by
Lois Mutibwa, of the East African School of Library and Information Science. It was a beautiful, well prepared, presentation,
with plenty of opportunity for the audience to ask questions and discuss. A practical session followed in which participants,
working on laptops or smartphones, set up gmail accounts and Google groups and wrote blogs. The session was led by repre-
sentatives of UgCLA’s new member and partner, the ANABEL Resource Centre.
In another session, participants learnt about the African Storybook project www.storybook.org. Dr. Cornelius Gulere, who has
been helping people write stories for the website and who is now the project’s coordinator in Uganda, told participants about
the aims of the project, its significance in relation to government policies, and how to access the stories through the website or
the app. Then everyone was invited to work directly with the stories in their own languages, whether by reading, translating, or
adapting them, or by initiating new ones. Ideas were shared with the group as a whole. One particularly valuable presentation
was by a representative of the Busolwe Public Library, which worked with the Lunyole Language Association, to write stories
in Lunyole. The session brought out the complexity of language problems in Africa: some libraries work on a regular basis
with two or more African languages, which may be completely unrelated; others use a language in which there are no stories
yet published in the Storybook; the languages of some do not even have a standard orthography. There is a great deal of work
to be done on these issues, and UgCLA, with its wide diversity of members, is in a good position to contribute to the effort.
A Sunday morning session provided an opportunity for those libraries that have computers and access to the internet to speak
of their experiences with technology. These libraries include Kawempe Youth Centre and the Nambi Sseppuuya Resource
Centre, both of which emphasized the importance of using technological resources to develop the library’s profile and publi-
cize its work. Mr Justin Kiyimba, in telling the story of how the Nambi Sseppuuya Resource Centre obtained its computers,
also urged UgCLA’s members to be persistent in advocating for their libraries. The last two hours of the conference were de-
voted to UgCLA’s Annual General Meeting. Brief oral reports were presented, and then members voted for new members of
the Board of Trustees.
Altogether, 35 member libraries were represented at the conference, and well over 50 people attended; they included individu-
al members of UgCLA, extra library representatives, and volunteers who are working at Ibanda and Kitengesa Community
Libraries. After ten years, UgCLA has grown impressively and become quite an established institution. There is good hope of
its continuing to grow, especially under its new leadership.
FAVL Produces 30 New French Photo
Books for Burkina Faso
Research: Reading fiction did not
affect economic preferences
The FAVL team in Burkina Faso has produced, printed and
distributed 30 new photo books for use in libraries. There are
now almost 150 photo books in the FAVL catalog! These
books feature short texts and accompanying photos, and are
set in the very villages where the libraries are located. They
are among the most popular books for children. Readers see
familiar settings (but often the first time they see “their own”
faces and families in a book) and acquire French vocabulary
as they read. Reading with a well-understood context is a
great way to easily acquire vocabulary. Below is a sample of
the covers of the new photo books. Congratulations to the
authors and photographers (all from Burkina Faso).
Support more projects like these! Donate by mail or online at favl.org
Salifou Ouédraogo, the
mayor of Zimtenga in
Bam province in northern
Burkina Faso, has been a
big supporter of the com-
munity library. He ar-
ranged for a large donation
of French books from part-
ner organization Associa-
tion Bolbec. He also
agreed to have his life story be the subject of a FAVL
photo book. (see cover at right) He supplied our director,
Sanou Dounko, with photographs from his youth and time
as a member of the National Assembly. This kind of en-
gaged mayor is so important for a successful community
Mayor of Zimtenga supports the
FAVL director Michael Kevane is an economist, and his
research interests have over the years shifted to understand-
ing the impacts of reading fiction and public libraries. A
paper based on research in Burkina Faso, of a program car-
ried out with FAVL, was recently accepted for publication
in the journal Economic Development and Cultural
Change. The paper reports on how the program generated
random variation in access to fiction for youth living in
villages in southwestern Burkina Faso.
The variation was used to test the hy-
pothesis that reading fiction affects
economic preferences. After six
months of access and encouragement to
read appropriate young adult fiction,
there were few differences in any of
four measured outcomes (trust, contri-
bution to public goods, risk, and pa-
tience) between those participating in
the reading program and the control
group. The results run counter to a common supposition
that reading fiction would have significant effects on the
preferences or mental habits of readers. Advocates of read-
ing fiction have argued that readers develop better intui-
tions about the interior lives of themselves and of others
(empathy, perspective-taking, theory of mind). These en-
hanced intuitions might change social behavior and actions
that influence future selves. The null results found suggest
the relevance of more research on this question, as coun-
tries in sub-Saharan Africa devote public resources to fund
reading promotion programs in and out of school.
FAVL nominated once again for consideration for
2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award!
FAVL is proud to be once again nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, named after the famed author of Pippi
Longstocking. It is open to authors, illustrators, oral storytellers and reading promoters. Other nominees from the United
States include Room to Read, Judy Blume, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Jacqueline Woodson. Wow! Humbling company.
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Friends of African Village Libraries
P.O. Box 90533
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Current Resident or
Burkinabè graphic artist Mady Kafando designed the illustration for the t-shirts for summer reading camps held in 23 villages in
Burkina Faso in 2017. Mady is the author of a dozen graphic novels that are very popular in our libraries. Each camp hosted 25
fourth graders for a week of reading and fun activities. The camps are organized by FAVL staff, the village librarian, a local
teacher, and two village assistants. This year, one activity was for kids to spend time drawing their own short graphic novels.
Your donations will help FAVL continue these reading camps!