Take a look, it’s in a book…

When was the last time you went to the library?  How many people were there?  Seriously, leave a comment.

I went to the library in Gaborone a week ago.  I was not expecting much.  The last library I went to outside of the United States, in St. Marc Haiti, had a worse selection than most dentist’s waiting rooms.  So to say my expectations were exceeded is an understatement. 

This is the library full to the point where people are sitting on the floor...this was at 10am on Thursday.
This is the library full to the point where people are sitting on the floor…this was at 10am on Thursday.

Sorry for the blurry picture, but I wanted to respect everyone’s privacy. 


The point is that the library was full beyond capacity, mostly with people aged from early teens to late 20’s.  One explanation for this is that it is very difficult to get a library card to check out books.  It requires passport photos, proof of cell phone contract (few people use contracts with their cell phone), professional references, and a deposit.  Even with these barriers to access people still flood the library on a daily basis to read what they can during opening hours since they cannot take materials home.  It made me really happy to see a library so full and a government service so valued. 

The Central Gaborone Library is not large.  It is housing in the City Council complex and was built at the end of the 1960’s.  I guess around 8,000 square feet….3 large rooms of books and reading tables.  They also have a film collection, periodicles, newspapers, reference materials…basically it was familiar to me as any small town library in the U.S.  There is going to be a project started soon by the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnership that will add free wireless to all libraries in Botswana.  This should help close the digital divide for those with access to libraries, but more work needs to be done to help those that do not. 
OFFICAL Botswana Library Service Mission Statement:
The Mission statement for the National Library is to provide information to all, nation-wide by means of an efficient and effective library service. The National Library Service aims at developing an efficient system of information storage and retrieval and providing a nation-wide library and information service in order to support and promote formal and informal education and to facilitate recreation and cultural enrichment. It also promote the preservation, conservation and usage of the National documented cultural heritage by developing a National Bibliographic Control system and service. The national Library provides the following services, Public Library Services; Educational Library Services; Special Library Services and Services for the Disabled.

4 responses to “Take a look, it’s in a book…

  1. Wow! Graham interesting insight to something most of us take for granted
    everytime we use it. At 10:00 and crowded?! ” Read On!!!” or is that “Right On”

  2. Well, in all honesty this would have made me cry had I been there. That’s amazing, what a thirst for knowledge, and I can’t wait till there is internet access for all there. With this, I am inspired and will glady crack open my 5 books for school today and read chapter 1 in each.
    The last time I was at the Grapevine library was probably with you or my little sisters. It’s always quiet, and there’s never been a crowd like that there that I’ve seen. Maybe if they were giving away free stuff, well technically they do…knowledge. I am so happy to see it being valued somewhere. Good for everyone there, and for you too. I want to see this while I am there in December.


  4. When I was there a little over a week ago, there were quite a few folks but most appeared to be doing their school homework in a cool place. They were not reading the books the library holds. Thanks for the info on what it takes to check out books.

    Is Rotary interested in supporting Botswana libraries?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s