Sharing the Joy of Reading with an African Child
for 25 years

Director’s Letter

May 2010

Dear Friends,

I have just returned from another visit to Ghana. Less than a week after my arrival in March, the International Board on Books for Young People [IBBY] informed us that the Osu Children’s Library Fund had been selected as one of two winners of the 2010 IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award. We shared this exciting news with everyone: librarians; library members; literacy students; cultural and drama troupe members; board members in Canada and Ghana; those directly involved with building OCLF libraries, and our donors who make OCLF’s outreach possible.

The award will be presented at the annual IBBY Congress in September in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Joanna Felih, OCLF’s first librarian, and I have been invited to accept the honour. When Joanna was informed of this she replied, “A dream come true!” Besides the generous US$10,000 prize, we see this as an important endorsement of our program.

I made site visits to our newest project, a two-storey library in Madina, a populated area with many schools but no libraries. We anticipate that when the building is completed, it will become a meeting place for the entire community. A library of this size involves coordinating a myriad of details. Edward Kwame Modzeka, our 72-year-old carpenter, is moving at full speed to complete the huge order of tables, chairs and bookcases – all without electrical tools!

I travelled to Burkina Faso to visit libraries sponsored by Friends of African Village Libraries [FAVL], our partner organization, and to take photos for My Orange Book, My Pink Book and My Violet Book, more books in the popular colour series. I was welcomed by librarians at each village and we enjoyed organizing activities with the children: making bead necklaces and bracelets from magazines; doing batik with crayons; print making using cardboard and string, and creating books. I also witnessed the opening of the Pobe Mengao Library, an initiative by Emilie Crofton, a Peace Corps volunteer.

In addition to visiting libraries and spending time reading with library members – always a highlight – I spent time meeting government officials with local staff to sort out various issues. For example, simply getting a ‘light’ bill paid often requires multiple letters to various departments, phone calls and visits. While such tasks are time consuming, it is important to insist that the government meets its share of responsibilities.

The week I left Ghana, all the libraries were full to capacity as the students were on vacation. Joanna and her library colleagues organized a morning reading camp to help the weaker readers. I was proud that they took this initiative. After all, sharing the joy of reading is what it is all about!

Yours sincerely,

Kathy Knowles

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