Container Libraries

As most schools in Zambia do not have any books, and as there are no available public libraries nor book shops, there is a huge need for a secure and available source of books. We have given a huge amount of books to local schools, but as many schools do not have proper walls and roofs such that they could keep a donation of books, there are still a very large amount of people for whom access to books is not possible. This is where our container-libraries play a part. We have provided, funded and equipped these libraries from donations of money and of books and bookshelves in Ireland, and they are now open, free of charge, to anyone who wishes to access a book in Chipulukusu and in George.

In 2017, we sent a 40 foot steel shipping container with about 26 and a half tonnes of school books and children’s books to Chipulukusu in Zambia. The books themselves were shared out among many schools in the area around Ndola, but also as far away as Mongu, 812 km to the West and Lusaka, 320 km to the South. We also cut holes in the container to provide windows and doors, and turned the container itself into a library, which is now located in Chipulukusu.

The container library in Chipulukusu

The demand for books was so great that we sent a second container full of books to Zambia in 2018, and again this container was turned into a library, and it is located at George Community.

A third container followed in November 2021, and that container too, will be turned into a local container- library.

Every day, hundreds of children, and some adults, come to our libraries to find or to borrow a book.

Whereas our container libraries were initially run by volunteers, we eventually employed two Zambian teachers, Hakky Mulenga and Kelvin Chinyama in April 2022 to be full-time, professional librarians based in our container libraries. By employing two enthusiastic and resourceful teachers, we dramatically improved the impact of the libraries. Both Hakky and Kelvin had attended several of our previous teacher-training conferences and so they are both well-equipped to make the best of the libraries.

Hakky and Kelvin have expanded our library services to include outreach to local schools, they have founded reading clubs and started reading competitions. They also provide instruction and reading lessons in the libraries. In September 2022, with the supply of a large number of laptop computers, they also started giving computer lessons in the container libraries.

Computer lessons in our container library

All of these services are available to all, and free of charge. All of this has been made possible by the kindness of donors and supporters in Ireland, and by the hard work and dedication of Irish and Zambian volunteers.

In December 2022, we employed a further two librarians, to better support our container libraries. Brenda Mpundu and Joyce Kibila have taken up their new roles with enthusiasm and after initial training, they will be managing the container library in George community.

You can read some of the reports of our librarians below. Within a very short space of time they have transformed our container library service and they have introduced many innovations.

Emmanuel Phiri, director of ZDSF, with our first two librarians, Hakky Mulenga and Kelvin Chinyama

Reports from our librarians:

21st May 2022

4th June 2022

12th June 2022

18th June 2022

26th June 2022

2nd July 2022

November 2022

December 2022

January 2023