Constructing Children's Community Libraries

“Many schools across the African continent remain in need, and millions of children and adults are still without access to books and the tools to reach their full potential.”

Kofi Annan

Library construction provides much-needed jobs and supports local merchants who supply all of our building materials.

Buildings & Books works to expand access to books by establishing children’s community libraries in sub-Saharan Africa. We have completed our first three libraries in the rural western Kenyan communities of Lwandeti (October 2010), Dendyo (February 2012), and Ndori (April 2013), and broke ground in November 2013 on our fourth library in the community of Lukohe.

Decisions about the location, construction and operation of a library are best made by those who will be using it. Therefore, we work closely with educators, local leaders and other stakeholders to ensure that our libraries best serve the needs of the community.

While specific details vary based on a community’s particular needs, our libraries share many common features. Generally, Buildings & Books libraries are:

  • Durable brick structures, roughly 20 by 30 feet in size, with a poured concrete foundation and galvanized metal roof
  • Constructed by local masons using locally produced building materials
  • Reinforced with concrete and steel columns for added strength and stability
  • Furnished with locally built tables, chairs, desks and bookcases
  • Stocked with locally published books
  • Open to all members of the community, who enjoy free book borrowing privileges

Community Investment

Our community impact goes beyond expanded educational opportunities. We invest significant funds directly into the local economy of very impoverished rural areas, where the unemployment rate exceeds the national average of 40 percent. Construction of our libraries creates much needed jobs for approximately a dozen masons and laborers for nearly three months. Our investment also benefits the numerous local merchants from whom we purchase the bricks, stone, cement, steel and other building materials used to construct our libraries.