Friends of African Village Libraries Newsletter December 2022
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 U.S. volunteers supports FAVL
activities 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
Community libraries surviving in difficult times
Pandemics, global recession, and conflict have made the past few years very
difficult for public and community libraries. When we launched FAVL in
2001, a sense of optimism about the future of libraries was reasonable. Liter-
acy and schooling were increasing rapidly, and governments were looking
for ways to deepen the quality of reading. Sadly, governments in many Afri-
can countries offer less support for reading programs and libraries now than
they did in 2001.
Nowhere is this more
evident than in Burki-
na Faso. The blame
lays squarely with the
civil conflict that has
engulfed the country
since 2016. The con-
flict pits various Is-
groups (whose first
actions are to close
schools until they
agree to change the
language of instruc-
tion to Arabic, a lan-
guage few people in
the country speak) against the Burkinabè military (which in 2022 overthrew
the democratic government in January and then carried out a second coup in
September, disrupting all layers of government). Twelve of 38 libraries sup-
ported by FAVL have closed because of the conflict (Sebba, Pobe-Mengao,
Belehede, Kiembara, Pissila, Ouargaye, Nassere, Zimtenga, Barsalogho,
Namissiguima, Pensa, and Bourzanga). In many of these villages, the entire
population has fled to neighboring towns. More recently, several villages in
the heartland of Burkina (Béréba, Boni, and Koumbia) have been threatened
by the djihadistes (as they are known locally) and schools and libraries are
likely to remain closed until the security situation is improved. The mobile
library in Houndé has reduced its services (school readers served by the
BMP are pictured above). The FAVL representative in Burkina Faso, Sanou
Dounko, continues to visit libraries that remain open, in secure areas. The
office has pivoted to production of books written and illustrated by residents
of the town of Houndé. In November, the team hit our target of 10,000 cop-
ies of 50 titles. We are hoping in 2023 to produce and distribute 50,000 cop-
ies, including another 50 titles.
Over in Ghana, FAVL’s local partner continues to manage the three libraries
of Sumbrungu, Sherigu, and Gowrie-Kunkua. The libraries receive about
4,000 visits every month. In Uganda, Kitengesa Community Library and the
Uganda Community Libraries Association are offering regular services. But
what is clear is that they continue to be reliant on your donations: the govern-
ments of Ghana and Uganda have not prioritized reading promotion and li-
braries, and both countries appear to be entering periods of economic crisis,
where support is even less likely.
We hate pessimism! But better to be realistic that Pollyannaish about the me-
dium term. Sometimes the harder road is, well, harder. We hope you will
continue to accompany us on the road.
FAVL, in partnership with CESRUD (a local NGO) supports
three libraries in the Upper East region of Ghana. CESRUD's
library program director is Benedict Akana.
• In 2022, opening hours for the libraries returned to normal
after the pandemic, and libraries, especially Sumbrungu,
see lots of usage, about 4,000 visits per month. The librar-
ies are mostly reading rooms, and do not check out books.
• Building maintenance was done for Gowrie-Kunkua, with
doors and window louvers replaced, and more shelving
constructed. Sherigu was repainted. FAVL supported re-
construction of part of Sumbrungu library (and the office
of the director) which was damaged by an electrical fire.
• Sumbrungu library hosted occasional tele-classes organized through the Ghana Ministry of Education. They held a
ceremony with over 200 students attending, for World Book Day, with the mayor of Bolgatanga as guest of honor.
They hosted reading competitions at several points throughout the year, with hundreds of primary and secondary stu-
dents participating. These are organized by CESRUD library coordinator along with local school directors.
• The libraries received several hundred books and games purchased with funds from FAVL in November.
• The librarians participated in a training course in Bolgatanga Regional Library, and in another training to use comput-
ers to type their monthly reports on library usage and activities, which are posted to the FAVL blog.
• In 2022, FAVL transferred about $13,000 USD to CESRUD for use in library support. This was exchanged for about
100,000 Ghanaian cedis. Of this, about 35,000 cedis was for salaries and benefits; about 8,000 cedis was for purchase
of a new motorcycle for Benedict to be able to visit the three libraries (with another 4,000 cedis for fuel); about
14,000 cedis was for construction and repair work; about 14,000 cedis was for a variety of program expenses; and
about 9,000 cedis was used to purchase books and games for the libraries. In 2023, we anticipate spending more
funds on books and games for the libraries, and organizing more library activities.
Updates from Ghana libraries (Sumbrungu, Sherigu, and Gowrie-Kunkua)
Readers in Sumbrungu Community Library in Ghana
Donors occasionally want to remember loved ones with their gifts, and this year there were several such donations. Here
are a few of the people remembered through gifts to FAVL. Amalia Sottile, a loving sister of a dear friend of the donor.
Dr. Hans-Åke Nordström, a superb archeologist and professor at Uppsala, and friend of the donor. Several donors con-
tributed to the Béréba Library fund, to honor both Gail Weaver and David Pace, who contributed, in different ways, to
support the library. We also want to acknowledge Helene Lafrance, longtime FAVL board member, and herself a profes-
sional librarian at Santa Clara University. Helene contributed much to support FAVL, and was always eager to copyedit
the books the team in Burkina Faso has been producing. Helene passed away in November of this year. For all of these
friends, and others we have forgotten to mention, may their memory be a blessing.
FAVL Director Kate Parry visited Kitengesa Community Library in November, and wrote: “The place was busy: 17
young children were there, reading and looking at storybooks, and 8 teenagers, who were working with the three comput-
ers (this is why we want to buy some new ones if we can afford it). Mr. Mayanja, who leads our Library Band was also
there and eager to tell me about a project he has for Christmas: a special performance for some of the poorest people in the
village, with a small gift to each of them of sugar and other necessities. He’s fundraising for it now, so I’ve promised him
a contribution. I will hand it over next Friday, when the Band is putting on a special performance for me to celebrate my
recovery from surgery.” The library also held women’s health camps, and hosts “library period” that is part of the school
curriculum for neighboring primary and secondary schools. The Uganda Community Libraries Association (UgCLA) held
their annual meeting in July. UgCLA director Emmanuel Anguyo regularly visits libraries, and his reports and photos are
posted to the FAVL blog.
Updates from Burkina Faso
• The team’s goal for 2022 was to
edit, reformat, and print 200 copies
of 50 titles in the CMH series of
stories written and illustrated by
Houndé residents. In November, a
ceremony in the FAVL office in
Ouagadougou was held to celebrate
the achievement! 3,000 copies were
delivered to the director of the na-
tional library service for distribu-
tion to government-run public li-
braries. The remaining 7,000 copies
will be distributed to FAVL-
supported libraries. The book pro-
duction was supported by a multi-
year grant from Rotary internation-
al, and Rotary Savane Club in Oua-
gadougou is the local partner.
• The BMP mobile library in Houndé has had trouble retaining the ani-
mator. The job has a particular skillset: be a good reader and reading
promoter, enjoy doing puzzles and drawing, and also have a license to
drive a large motorcycle safely. We hope that in 2023 our partner or-
ganization will find a more permanent staff person.
• A convention was signed with the mayor of Koumbia to enable hiring
of a new librarian for Koumbia library. FAVL will contribute salary
support. Béréba and Dimikuy libraries were repainted. The team con-
tinued to help manage the Humanitas library in Bobo-Dioulasso and
Konkourona library in Houet province.
• The team participated in the 5th Biennale des Littératures franco-
phones d’Afrique noire in March at the Institut français of Bobo-
Dioulasso, and shared a variety of techniques at the regular regional librarian meeting. During the biennale the team
also purchased many new books for the libraries.
• Functioning libraries in Sanmatenga and Bam provinces received new tables, chairs, and games as part of the continu-
ation of the CRS Beeog Biiga program.
• Workshops with librarians were held over the year as usual, in Houndé, Kongoussi, and Kaya. The local newsletter,
Echos des bibliothèques, was printed and delivered to librarians and partners every month of 2022, and is available on
the FAVL website.
• The mayor’s offices in Boni and Béréba were attacked and burned by insurgents. Included in the lost paperwork was
the contract for the Boni librarian, so the process must resume again.
• A generous donor has enabled FAVL to support Koho Library with two new assistant librarians. Alidou Boué contin-
ues to serve as regional animator, and visits Koho twice a week. Koho library received 185 books from FAVL, in
May. Another 15 young adult books were purchased for Koho in July, and then in August the library received 230
books purchased with funds from Houndé Gold.
• The team has been preparing for a transition in January 2023, when all staff will become employees of ABVBF, our
local partner organization.
Kitengesa Community Library and Uganda Community Libraries Association
US POSTAGE PAID
SAN JOSE, CA
PERMIT NO. 1014
Friends of African Village Libraries
P.O. Box 90533
San Jose, CA 95109-3533
Current Resident or
Koho Community Library gets two new library assistants!
Despite the civil war in Burkina Faso, FAVL continues to sup-
port libraries and reading. A generous donor has enabled us to
recruit, train, and pay the salaries of two new library assistants.
Read more inside!