Counties

City libraries set for Sh100m upgrade

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The McMillan Memorial Library in Nairobi. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NMG

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Summary

  • City Hall is set to spend Sh100 million to digitise as well as renovate library facilities under the county government.
  • The digitisation plan will see automation of reading materials for ease of access by users.

City Hall is set to spend Sh100 million to digitise as well as renovate library facilities under the county government.

The digitisation plan will see automation of reading materials for ease of access by users as the county government aims to streamline dissemination of repackaged information, saving the users’ time.

As part of the plan, McMillan Memorial Library has been earmarked for renovation to give the facility a digital facelift, improving the environment for library users at a total cost of Sh10 million.

Already the digitisation of the archive at the library on Banda Street is underway having commenced in November, 2020.

This will see the public access Kenya’s archives and other reading materials stored at the library including e-learners, researchers, library users and readers across the world.

At least Sh3 million will be spent to digitise materials at the library including 137,005 books while another Sh6 million will go towards automating services at the facility. The remaining Sh1 million will be spent on the purchase of library materials.

According to the Nairobi County Annual Development Plan for the financial year ending June 30, 2023, the project will be a partnership between the Ann Kananu-led administration, British Council and Book Bunk.

“For provisions of library and information services and improve library facilities, Sh3 million will be spent to digitise library materials,” reads in part the plan.

The oldest library in Nairobi and second largest in Kenya, McMillan was built by the Lady Lucy McMillan in 1931 as a memorial to her husband Sir Northrup McMillan who died in 1925.

McMillan is the only building in Kenya protected by an Act of Parliament, The McMillan Memorial Library Act Cap 217 of 1938 (revised in 2012).

A plan to digitise McMillan and two other libraries in Nairobi was mooted in 2018. The project was to involve the renovation of all three buildings as well as the creation of digital possibilities that match those of the city. This will need Sh100 million.

City Hall expects the upgrade to transform these facilities into accessible and safe community spaces, granting access to crucial services including public co-working spaces as well as training a cohort of Nairobi residents on the management, promotion and care of collections through workshops conducted by African Digital Heritage Foundation.

Physical restoration of Kaloleni Library started in June last year with similar works in the Makadara branch scheduled to be completed in this year’s first quarter having commenced in August last year.