BYE ANALOGUE

Catalogues of three McMillan libraries to be digitised

Project is supported by British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, in partnership with the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

In Summary

•The project by the county government of Nairobi, British Council and Book Bunk will enable access to Kenya’s colonial history.

•137,705 books at the McMillan Library and two of its branches in Eastlands, Kaloleni and Makadara  will be digitised.

Workers at the McMillan Library on January 19, 2021
Workers at the McMillan Library on January 19, 2021
Image: COURTESY

The public will soon be able to access Kenya’s archives and other reading materials as plans are in progress to digitise 137,705 books at the McMillan Library.

The project will also cover two of its branches in Kaloleni and Makadara.

This project by the county government of Nairobi, British Council and Book Bunk will enable access to Kenya’s history by E-learners, researchers, library users and readers across the world.

The project commenced in 2018, involving physical renovations of all three buildings as well as the creation of digital possibilities that match those of the city.

Wanjiru Koinange of Book Bunk on Friday noted that many of Kenya's iconic libraries have suffered neglect for years and such a project seeks to restore them.

“ We are also working to mitigate climate-related risks by digitising the most crucial segments of the archive which document key moments that constitute our cultural heritage,” she said.

The project is supported by British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, in partnership with the UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Physical restoration of Kaloleni Library started 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.

Digitisation of the archive at McMillan Memorial Library located on Banda Street is underway as the process commenced in November, 2020.

It will be   delivered in partnership with African Digital Heritage Foundation and the Built Environment Surveyors & Infrastructure Consultancy group. .

Angela Wachuka of Book Bunk emphasised that equitable access to information and the history that has shaped many Kenyans is a crucial towards realising the potential of libraries.

“Libraries have the potential to act as more than mere repositories, connecting us to the past in ways that help us question the present, as well as plan for inclusive futures,” she said

 In addition, the project also seeks to transform these spaces into accessible and safe community spaces, granting access to crucial services including public co-working spaces.

It also aims to train a cohort of Nairobi residents on the management, promotion and care of collections through workshops conducted by African Digital Heritage Foundation.

The oldest library in Nairobi and second largest in Kenya, McMillan was  built by the Lady Lucy McMillan in 1931 .

She built it 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).

Edited by Henry Makori