On the 3rd and 4th of July 2018 I attended the 3rd African Public Libraries Summit in Durban. The summit was organized by AFLIA and the theme was “public libraries delivering on the development agenda”. Development agenda in this context refers to the Sustainable Development Goals (or SDGs) as set out by the United Nations: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300.
Purity Mutuku from KNLS (Kenya National Library Service) gave a good presentation on learning circles at KNLS and it was inspiring to hear about the success they are having. Miriam Mureithi from KNLS was also present. They have both facilitated several learning circles and were great at explaining the concept and responding to the questions from fellow librarians!
Later in the day there was a session called “Marketplace of ideas” and we had an opportunity to have in-depth discussion about the presentations. I joined Purity and we had a good discussion about learning circles.
On the second day I presented the work we are doing with KNLS from the perspective of P2PU. There wasn’t a similar opportunity to discuss afterwards, but I had some conversations afterwards with people expressing that they appreciated the presentation and it helped them better understand the what and the why behind learning circles.
Some themes that came up during the summit were “offering innovative programming at the library”, “moving beyond quiet places for reading”, “driving development and education”, “working with partners” and “measuring impacts”.
It was clear from presentations and comments that libraries in Africa operate under several resource constraints including basic services like electricity, access to internet, access to computers, physical space and trained staff time.
I enjoyed the summit and seeing some familiar faces and putting faces to some email addresses. I learned a lot from speaking with people at the conference and the listening to the presentations. Overall it was a great place to share learning circles and highlight the work we are doing in partnership with Kenya National Library System (KNLS) and EIFL. Several libraries are interested in learning circles and I hope that we’ll have a few more learning circles running in Africa in due course.