I Wanted To Set Up A Library In Africa

By Elsemieke Wishart, I loved reading to my children when they were young and I want to pass on that love of reading to other children, even children in Africa.

I’m from Canada and this is how I became a librarian. I always thought it would be fun to work in a library and when I asked about a job at our local library I was told that I needed to get a Library Technician Diploma first. I was a stay-at-home mom of 5 young children and I thought going to school meant going full time so I did not pursue the diploma. Over the years I got involved with an organization that set up an orphanage/boarding school in Zambia (Africa) and I made yearly trips there as a volunteer. In 2009 my husband and I went with 4 of our children for a longer time. One of my goals was to organize the “library” which was just a collection of books donated over the years. As I was attempting to figure out what to do with the books my daughter said to me “Mum, you just want to be a nerdy librarian reading books to kids in Africa.” And she was right. But I didn’t have any librarian skills. When I returned to Canada I worked as an elections officer for a day, the lady working with me told me she was getting her Library Tech diploma part-time at a local university. I knew right then that’s what I wanted to do, get my diploma and go back to Africa to set up a proper library. I started school and I was planning the library, we collected 8,000 donated books and shipped them in a container to Zambia.  I received my Library Technician diploma in May 2012 and in September 2012 I traveled to Zambia with another library technician friend and 6 volunteers and we managed to set up a beautiful library – how we did that is another story. We hired a Zambian librarian who had just graduated with a Library Degree. A week before I left for Zambia I was hired by a local school district as an on-call Library Technician, they didn’t mind that I couldn’t start for 3 weeks and as soon as I got home I started working in a school library, I love my job and I am making plans to go back to Ndola, Zambia to continue supporting  Grace Academy Library. Some people think it’s boring to work in a library, I think it’s a grand adventure.

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One Comment

  1. mj says:

    Great story – thanks for sharing Elsemieke.

    Have you made contact with : Librarians without Borders (http://www.lwb-online.org/) and Libraries without Borders (http://www.librarieswithoutborders.org/about-us/) – I think they would be keen to hear about your experiences in Zambia, and might also be able to support the work you have already done.

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