Bellagio Publishing Network  

 BPN Newsletter Issue No 31, November 2002 


Books for development – a workshop to link stakeholders in the book chain

Kampala, 27th–29th September 2002

Sara Harrity
Sara Harrity is Director, Book Aid International, 39 - 41 Coldharbour Lane, London SE5 9NR, UK +44 (0)20 7733 3577 (tel), 020 7978 8006 (fax), email:,

Before the workshop began, warm tributes were paid to Chief Victor Nwankwo and a minute’s silence was observed.

The goal of the workshop was to increase mutual understanding and collaboration between booksellers, librarians and publishers in order to develop the book chain and to give books and access to information greater prominence on the policy agenda at national level.

The workshop was facilitated by Sara Harrity and Cath Nicholson of Book Aid International (BAI), Akin Fasemore and Alice Mouko of the African Publishers Network (APNET) and Oluronke Orimalade of the Pan African Booksellers’ Association (PABA). It was hosted by the National Book Trust of Uganda (NABOTU) and funded by ADEA and the Rockefeller Foundation. There were over 20 participants representing library organizations and the booksellers and publishers associations of Ghana, Uganda and Zambia. The methodology of the workshop was participatory, and everyone played a full and lively part in group work and discussions.

The opening speeches emphasized the importance of books to life-long education, literacy and overall development, and drew attention to the challenges posed by the rapid increase in educational provision through Universal Primary Education (UPE). There is great pressure to maintain quality, and supplementary reading materials and libraries have a crucial role to play.

On the first day, common objectives were identified, as well as challenges and problems. The three professional groups had much that they agreed on, including the need to inculcate a reading culture; make relevant and affordable books available and accessible; lobby government for positive book policies; and develop effective working relationships. It was agreed that it was necessary to adopt a common approach.

The second day was devoted to planning BAI’s local purchase project, which will operate in the three countries represented in 2003. Grants will be provided to four library organizations to purchase books, ideally in local languages, through booksellers. The project aims specifically to target the needs of poor and disadvantaged groups, e.g., women, in ways that improve collaboration across the book chain. This session gave participants a chance to consider some of the problems and challenges they had identified on the first day in a concrete practical context and work together on how to overcome them. Group feedback included the importance of transparency in procurement processes; the need to involve users in book selection; gender considerations in selection and in access; and the need for practical and collaborative steps to take forward reading promotion and advocacy work.

These last two themes were taken up on the third and final day. Case studies were presented by participants from Uganda on their experience of successful collaboration and by the Ghana Book Trust on their work to promote reading. Librarians, publishers and booksellers in each country came up with a range of ideas they could work on together to promote reading. Finally, the group considered key areas they could advocate on collectively. These included changing the attitude of policy makers by creating awareness of the importance of access to supplementary reading materials to support government goals for quality education; making books available, accessible and affordable to advance the cause of literacy; the need for local language publications; and capacity building across the book chain. The workshop helped to build personal and professional relationships which will be further cemented as the three groups continue to work together in-country.

The workshop immediately preceded the Uganda National Book Week Festival (30th September–6th October 2002). In order to link the two events and to share experience further, an Open Forum was held on Monday, 30th September on the subject of ‘Working together to advocate for the role of books and information for development’, and other visitors to the Book Week were invited. Oluronke Orimalade (PABA), Chris Chirwa (Booksellers and Publishers Association of Zambia) and Phenny Birungi (Public Library Board of Uganda) gave a bookseller’s, publisher’s and librarian’s perspective on the workshop and discussion followed on the link between access to information and poverty alleviation, the role of indigenous tertiary publishing and local languages in development. [end] [BPN, no 31, 2002, p. 12.]

^^Back to top

Return to table of contents for BPN Newsletter 31, 2002>>

home about us news resources subscribe
newsletter forum search

© Bellagio Publishing Network 2002-2005.

Go to Top Go to top
Go to top Go to Top