In Rwanda today, having a public library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life. Education has become recognised as an individual right that maps the road to personal development and a better life.
With support from a broad array of international partners, in 2000, the Rotary Club of Kigali-Virunga initiated the project of constructing a public library in Kigali (the country’s first) that would meet international standards. The effort to build the Kigali Public Library received strong support from both the Rwandan and international community.
Due to lack of funds, the government took over the project, and worked closely with the Rotary Club of Kigali-Virunga to build the facility. Initially, the library was supposed to have opened early in March this year but the delays were a result of various construction changes on the building. Its launch is now slated for 2012.
The country’s first public library will play a major role in opening children’s minds.
A library can transport children from the commonplace to the extraordinary by providing them with works of non-fiction and fiction to broaden their knowledge of the world and inspire their creativity.
According to Zephyr Mutanguha, Rotary Club of Kigali-Virunga president, said that, “The success of this great project will represent a turning point in the history of Rwanda by providing access to knowledge to a population of nearly 11 million inhabitants.”
Professor Ignance Tabaro, said a public library is often called “the people’s university” because it is available to all, regardless of age, skill level or ability to pay.
“School children depend on the public library for books and materials that supplement those of the school library and it is not only children that benefit from public libraries. People of all ages can pursue self-directed learning at public libraries,” Tabaro said.
When completed, more than 200,000 children, adolescents and adults will be able to benefit from the library’s direct services. The entire population of Rwanda will be able to identify with this first-rate cultural structure, a symbol of hope, sharing and education.
And no doubt it will help to safeguard freedom and to aid the development of a healthy democracy by providing access to information that enables citizens to make decisions necessary to govern themselves. By enriching minds and encouraging critical thought, a public library can combat the crippling burdens of ignorance and conformity; its existence signifies the extent to which a democratic society values knowledge, truth, and justice.
The library will also house special collection on such topics as Rwandan history and literature, which will serve to preserve the past and to validate and unify the entire nation. It will also conserve the record of the nation of Rwanda, its culture and community.