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Camels help provide Library Services

PRESS RELEASE: For immediate release
26 February 2002
IFLA HQ
The Hague, Netherlands
Camel Mobile Libraries in Kenya Readers of Camel Mobile Libraries in Kenya

Motorized mobile libraries are well-known: buses, vans, trucks, cars, trains and boats provide library services to people in remote areas throughout the world. But also forms of non-motorized libraries exist: bicycles, boxes, and library services operated with the help of camels.

The latest IFLA Professional Report reveals the unique experiences of the Camel Mobile Libraries in Kenya. IFLA's Mobile Libraries Round Table commissioned the assessment of these services with the view of learning from their experiences so that guidelines and standards could be worked out as a way of encouraging projects in other countries and regions.

The Camel Library Service - operated by the Kenya National Library Service (KNLS) - is located in the North Eastern Province. The region - measuring 126,000 sq. km, 26% of Kenya - is one of the least developed in the country. It has a population of nearly 1 million. The illiteracy level in this region is 85%, while the national figure stands at 31%.

The Camel Libray Service was launched in 1996 with 3 camels and had been expanded to 6 camels by the year 2001. It operates from a static branch of the KNLS in Garissa, from where it covers a radius of about 20 km. Target groups are pastoralists, schools, adult literacy programmes and refugee camps.

Camels are used as the most effective mode of transportation in this area. They are used to carry water, food, clothing and shelter. In addition they are able to sustain the library services in this rough terrain.

This assessment involved interviews, reviews of documentary sourcing, observing practices, examination of collections and procedures, discussion and evaluation sessions. The study concludes that the Camel Libraries provide library services to previously unserved populations in regions of Kenya where road infrastructures do not yet support motorized services.

The communities in the region have already shown a great commitment for similar services and thus need the international support to establish sustainable structures for these services and expansion to areas not yet served.

This report is essential reading for anyone interested in providing effective library services in remote areas.

Camel Library Services in Kenya, July 22-28, 2001. Report on the Assessment of Non-Motorized Mobile Libraries / By Thelma H. Tate, under the auspices of the IFLA Round Table on Mobile Libraries, the Moroney Bookmobile Company, USA, and the Kenya National Library Service.The Hague, IFLA Headquarters, 2002. - 53p. 30 cm. - (IFLA Professional Reports : 73) ISBN 90-70916-83-5

This publication can be ordered from IFLA Headquarters for EUR 20:

Karin Passchier
IFLA Headquarters
P.O. Box 95312
2509 CH The Hague
Netherlands Karin.passchier@ifla.org

Camel Mobile Libraries in Kenya Camel Mobile Libraries in Kenya

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