Book Aid International, a global non-profit that provides books and helps libraries globally, recently made a donation of 4 000 books to the Zimbabwe chapter of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY).
Half of the books were sourced from the UK while the other half were purchased from Zimbabwean publishers. The donation was recognised formally last Friday at a ceremony held at the Harare City Library.
Deputy Provincial Education director in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Crispen Naison, was the guest of honour.
Chairperson of the Harare City Library board Joe Muzurura, IBBY Zimbabwe chair Virginia Phiri, and her deputy, Greenfield Chilongo, as well as author Jenny Yon and Josephine Muganiwa, the editor of the IBBY Zimbabwe section, College Press officials and students, attended the event.
Children from St Giles Special School, Zuvarabuda, and Chengu primary schools got the chance to recite poems and listen to book readings while speakers switched between various topics.
The participation of learners, teachers, authors, parents and librarians at the event highlighted the importance and demand of books in promoting a reading culture among the beneficiaries.
“The event was a reminder of the key players in the book chain and why these have to be continuously nurtured in order to have an efficient infrastructure that guarantees a regular supply of books to all who need and use them, especially children who read for study, pleasure and long term learning,” Chilongo told IndependentXtra.
IBBY’s main interest is to promote the love of books and reading among young people so that they grow with a diverse mindset, knowledge and independent thinking.
“The mission, vision and goals of Book Aid International are similar to those of IBBY. We both seek to put books in the hands of readers. We both strive to develop an informed society capable of capitalising on the available opportunities,” said Chilongo.
The book event also served as a celebration of the ongoing collaborative relationship between Book Aid International, who are the main source of the donated books, IBBY Zimbabwe chapter, which is responsible for delivering the books to libraries and schools, and local publishers. In the current exercise, IBBY distributed books to schools and libraries in Harare, Norton, Zimunya in Mutare and Rushinga in Mashonaland Central.
Three of IBBY literary programmes have so far involved collaboration with the Harare City Library. The relationship, according to Phiri, began during the height of the pandemic in 2021 when they realised that it was impossible to visit schools for storytelling sessions with children. IBBY then came up with the idea of putting stories on CDs and giving them away to schools; the CD launch was hosted at the public library and was followed by One Page Children’s Stories which were distributed at schools last year.
The Harare City library is a trust which belongs to the residents of Harare and is not run by the city fathers, but jointly by the Justice ministry, Master of High Court and also through the mayor’s office.