Magazine article New Internationalist

Hagaz Community Library, Eritrea

Magazine article New Internationalist

Hagaz Community Library, Eritrea

Article excerpt

THE SMALL TOWN of Hagaz lies just off a main road and acts as the central market place for a community of more than 50,000 subsistence farmers. It has three schools, an agricultural college, and an attractive church and mosque. The community relies on three key sources to meet its information needs: the radio, newspapers and a small community library.

The library was housed in a tiny building with no light, a limited book collection and broken furniture. However, what it lacked in infrastructure it made up for in the enthusiasm of the staff. When we met her, the librarian had just undergone a week-long training course from the British Council in basic librarianship skills. She was working to reorganize the books she already had, and was hoping to acquire more from the public library in their nearest big town. The head of the local Youth Association explained how important books were, helping local people improve their English and develop new small businesses and other ideas to generate income.

The limited number of books and low levels of literacy in the wider community - especially among the rural women - has led to the establishment of a reading group with a difference. …

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