Showing posts with label library. Show all posts
Showing posts with label library. Show all posts

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Rural Modern Library

The new generation of local Washington, DC public libraries coming on line have been referred to as "striking ... buildings that sit like aliens in their neighborhoods, thoroughly unlike their surroundings—and intentionally so." Two of the libraries--Hillcrest and Washington Highlands library/Bellevue--were designed by British architect David Adjaye -- who's of Ghanaian descent and was born in Tanzania.

In the video clip below Adjaye walks a young resident of Bellevue, a community that has seen decline since the the mass exodus of the middle class in the 1980s, through his design of the library. He talks about the power a library--one of the only public funded spaces dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge, hope and possibility--has in affecting its local community.


Already there are signs of a "library effect" in the spate of new development projects coming to the area. Lydia DePillis writes in Washington City Paper:
... local ANC commissioner and Friends of the Bellevue Library president Dionne Brown says she's fielded calls from developers excited about the new building, which is totally unlike anything the neighborhood has ever seen. "It created a signal," Brown says. "It created a ripple in the local economy."
She argues:
...the kind of architecture that reinvests neighborhoods with a sense of pride and erases the mistakes of the past is important, even if that means not every neighborhood gets something new. If you start looking at statistics already being collected on the new buildings—the rate of new card registrations in the old libraries vs. the new ones, or overall number of items checked out—you get much better bang for your buck.
Burkinabe architect Francis Kere has shown that rural African communities can also make use of other kinds of scale modern architecture can bring to, for example, a rural school building - as in his now famous design of a primary school building at Gando. Below, Hunter College's Kate Parry reaffirms how the library allows the notions of public space, community wellbeing, community pride and empowerment to all overlap. Using the example of a small village library she's been working with in Southern Uganda, she notes that libraries in rural African communities are not only centers for disseminating literacy but they also double as a hub for other community building activity.


FAVL's thoughts on building rural libraries in Africa - here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Uganda: Rural Libraries as Community Ground Zero

Fabulous blog Friends of African Village Libraries points to an '09 video and paper by Hunter College's Kate Parry. She tells the tale of a small village library somewhere in Southern Uganda and how rural libraries double as ground zeroes for every other manner of  enabling and empowering activity in the community. 

Friday, November 19, 2010


Architect Andrew Berman's 2007 design for a private library. sweet. but, minus the desk, best private library design i've come across still is...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Kenya/ United States: Pen Pals

Supplement to the PBS "Time for School" series, shows students from Lawrence Middle School in Long Island, NY, and Ayany Primary School in Kenya viewing video pen pal messages from one another. Details - here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Kenya: British East Africa in 1909

From the Library of Congress' Theodore Roosevelt on Film collection comes this 1909 silent footage of Theodore Roosevelt in Kenya. It's said to have been filmed in British East Africa in 1909 and appears to be fragment of production from the travelogue film, Roosevelt in Africa, released April 18, 1910.

A more in-depth discussion of safari and travelogue films - here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Côte d'Ivoire: Marguerite Abouet of Yop City

Aya of Yop City, the continuation of Marguerite Abouet (she writes it) and Clement Oubrerie (her husband draws it) graphic novel series about teenagers and their families in Cote de Ivoire, dropped stateside in September from Drawn and Quarterly. ComicMix has a good review. The WSJ adds:
Ms. Abouet convinced her French publisher, Edition Gallimard, to sell cheap, soft-cover copies of her comic in the Ivory Coast, and the series has developed a following there.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bangladesh: "Waterworld"

Emily Wax wrote in WaPo back in 2007, "The boats plying the rivers and canals here in northeastern Bangladesh are school bus and schoolhouse in one, part of a 45-vessel fleet that includes library boats. There are plans for floating villages, floating gardens and floating hospitals as well, in case more of this region finds itself under water. Like a scene out of the 1995 post-apocalyptic movie "Waterworld," in which the continents are submerged after the polar ice caps melt and the survivors live out at sea, the boat schools and libraries are a creative response to flooding that scientists largely agree has been worsened by global warming." IRIN shows us how:

By 2050, 17% of Bangladesh land will be under seawater. So it is better for us to adapt to the situation -- Abul Hasanat Mohammed Rezwan

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Quotes of the Past Week

"... it's like looking into a mirror, after you've done a ton of coke off it"
-- Steven Colbert comparing clips of conservative rabble rouser Glen Beck and himself pretty much doing the same things.
"In reality, nothing in this agreement precludes any other company or organization from pursuing their own similar effort. The agreement limits consumer choice in out-of-print books about as much as it limits consumer choice in unicorns. Today, if you want to access a typical out-of-print book, you have only one choice — fly to one of a handful of leading libraries in the country and hope to find it in the stacks"
-- Google's co-founder Sergey Brin explaining the benefits in the settlement agreement between Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, over Google's project to digitize all "out-of-print" books.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Malawi: Windmills of the Gods, Cont'd

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
William Kamkwamba

Daily Show
Full Episodes

Political Humor
Ron Paul Interview

Do you know who MacGyver is? MacGyver is a guy we have here ... on TV, and is the closest thing to you I've ever seen -- Jon Stewart.

lol - as he enthusiastically described how his electric generator worked the first time, I pictured university professors, NASA engineers and nuclear physicists watching him and grinning with nostalgia, comprehension, wonderment and pride.

H/T:Africa is a Country

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Malawi: Winds in His Mills and Sails

The story of William Kamkwamba of Malawi continues to gain traction. Forced to drop out of school at age 14 because his family could no longer afford tuition, he comes across a library book showing a picture of windmill and he sets out to study energy and build windmills on his own.

Kamkwamba, now 20, built his windmill, by lashing blue-gum tree trunks together for the base and adding flattened plastic pipes for the blades and bike parts for the turbine, all the while relying on that textbook donated to his local library.

Since then, Kamkwamba's story has grown legs.

Sarah Childress's original story about Kamkwamba for the Wallstreet Journal is
here. Kamkwamba now has a blog and a short documentary that tells his story. Watch:

Here he is at

Ever since the story broke in 2007, a dimension of the narrative I always find missing in its telling is the story of books, especially library books. 

It is the story of the power library books can carry into the remotest of places. No doubt, William Kamkwamba is an amazing individual. But on the dusty shelf of his local library was, probably, a dusty, out of print textbook that talked about windmills and showed William a possibility into which he could pour the creative potential that set him apart. I recall Martin Scorsese's narrating in Personal Journey Through American Movies about how, before he could see them, he read of all the great films in a book he found at the local library when he was a kid. He borrowed the book so many times till he wore it out. Then he cut pages out from it and eventually ended up stealing the damn thing.

Thank God for libraries and those who build them.


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