The best libraries in Kenya were feted at the Maktaba Awards 2016 ceremony at the Kenya National Museum on September 30th, 2016. The best library in Kenya in 2016 was judged to be the Kenya National Library Services Kisumu.
The Maktaba (library in Swahili) Awards are a unique event in the Kenyan reading scene as the best libraries are celebrated with a colourful event in Nairobi. The event which were born in 2010 have been giving institutions who invest in their readings spaces with both cash and trophy awards.
2016 would be no different as librarians from all over the country converged on Nairobi to bond and also see who did the best job in the last year. The fun filled affair included performances from students of Kenyatta University and Technical University of Kenya. Giving a keynote address on the evening as was tradition was Prof Okoth Okombo as well as Uwe Koppel of the German Embassy before the evening’s festivities could officially begin.
Chair of the judges Irene Kibandi explained the rational of giving the different libraries their gongs and the winners started being announced. The overall this year was the Kenya National Library Services Kisumu beating last year’s winner KNLS Dr Robert Ouko Library Koru. For this they went home with a cash award of Kshs300,000, 200 books, a trophy and a certificate.
The reasons why this library won this award were many. For one, the library has entered into partnerships with other organizations, such as the US Embassy, which has led to the establishment of a well-equipped American Corner with media in different formats that has added more value to the library services.
They have also established book clubs in various schools which is a very good example of how libraries can partner with schools to promote literacy. Apart from book clubs, their youth program targets young Kisumu residents using storytelling sessions, reading and writing competitions, educative games and quizzes, music and theatre.
Through a partnership with the Millennium Village Project and the Department of Education, the library organizes reading tents, medical camps and training programmes for school librarians. They also document the cultural history of the community it serves by recording songs, dances, storytelling sessions and theater plays and making these available to its readers in digital format.
The library reaches out to readers in far flung areas who would otherwise have no access to library services with a mobile service.
The full list of the winners for 2016 were
- OVERALL WINNER-LIBRARY OF THE YEAR 2016 – Kenya National Library Services Kisumu
- PUBLIC SCHOOL LIBRARIES CATEGORY – Starehe Girls High School
- PRIVATE SCHOOL LIBRARIES CATEGORY – Aga Khan Academy Mombasa
- COMMUNITY LIBRARIES CATEGORY – Dr Robert Ouko Library Koru
- SPECIAL LIBRARIES CATEGORY – Nation Media Group
- PUBLIC LIBRARIES CATEGORY – Kenya National Library Services Kisumu
- ACADEMIC LIBRARIES CATEGORY – Kenyatta University Postmodern Library
- SPECIAL COMMENDATION AWARDS – Kenya National Library Services Narok