Digitizing Kafanchan Public Library with Fantsuam

Fantsuam is digitizing the Kafanchan Public Library to meet the need for easily accessible information, demonstrated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Project status: Closed

Country: Nigeria

Partner: Fantsuam Foundation

Impact Goal: 52 people

About the project

The Kafanchan public library was opened to the public on 18th March, 1975, making it the oldest public library in Southern Kaduna. It serves a population of 4,564,100 in the 12 local governments of the zone 3 in Kaduna State. The library provides a scholarly environment for students and teachers. In the wake of the covid epidemic, there has been an increasing public interest for the library to provide online services. In order to meet such a need, it is necessary to start a digitization process for the library.

Results of the project

The digital literacy training was initially planned for 40 participants, including the staff of the library. The program eventually trained a total of 52 participants, 11 females and 41 males. The people trained represented different parts of the community, including students, teachers and civil servants living in the rural satellite villages of Kafanchan as well as other literate members of the public.

At the graduation of the 52 participants, they pledged to become ambassadors of the Kafanchan e-Library. Each Ambassador has pledged to identify and work with at least 5 members of the public to raise awareness about the services that the e-Library will provide.

Each Kafanchan e-Library ambassador also has the responsibility to meet with their community leaders and other individuals to request access to important documents that may be at risk of deterioration, loss or theft. These documents will be scanned and stored in the database of the Library for public use. The original documents will be returned to the owners for safe keeping. Currently, 8 historical documents have been traced and are being documented for digital storage. 

The Kafanchan e-Library ambassadors suggested an innovation which was not in the original proposal. They suggested the development of a website for the library to underscore their long-term commitment to the project and provide a virtual storage for the library documents. The website is now under construction.

Post-funding, Fantsuam Foundation has engaged 34 students of the Kaduna State College of Education for their 4 months mandatory work experience. They are being provided digital literacy training, and also being trained to track and collect important local historical documents from their communities for storage on the e-Library server. They will document, allocate catalogue identity numbers, and scan and store the documents on the e-Library server. Each student is expected to identify 10 important historical documents each. This will be a major addition to the e-Library collections, and it will be a major source of protection for such local documents.

How many people benefited through this project? 

In total, 860 people benefited from this project The first set of beneficiaries are the 52 Kafanchan e-Library Ambassadors which included the two library staff. Each ambassador was mandated to reach at least 10 members of their communities and networks to advocate for more users and reach out to the education authorities to support the upgrade of the library. The 34 students on work experience will benefit from training provided by the program as well as help to populate the library server with important local historical documents. They will be reaching out to at least 10 influential members each from their communities. 

Changes and unforeseen challenges during the project

It turned out that the project was way ahead of the government’s ability and willingness to upgrade the e-facility of the public library. This challenge led to a change in the emphasis of the project by extending the capacity building aspect to more members of the public users of the library than initially planned. Their role as ambassadors of the library is aimed at increasing advocacy to the Government to ensure it meets its obligations to the communities of Kafanchan. Early results are already showing the government’s willingness to listen to its citizens. 

The absence of any digital infrastructure in the Kafanchan public library meant that the digitization will take even more time and it has to be in phases. The first phase consisted of provision of basic technical knowledge building and digital infrastructure establishment. Subsequent phases will build on this initial effort and provide a more extensive digitization of the library with advanced capacity building.

The national elections timetable coincided with some of the activities of the project. This provided a unique opportunity to raise the profile of the project and make it an election issue. Aspiring local politicians were lobbied by the e-Library ambassadors to undertake to support the upgrade of the e-library facilities.

About the partner

Fantsuam is on a mission to eliminate poverty and disadvantage among women and youths, especially in the Kaduna State in Nigeria, through integrated development programs.

Visit their website here to learn more about them.