Kenya’s government is prepping to launch a virtual library for citizens to access relevant information that it currently held by the Kenya National Library. The initiative is expected to materialize somewhere around June 2021 and has been allocated a budget of Ksh. 250 million. A virtual library will allow Kenyans seeking information from the Kenya National Library to get it at the comfort of their homes, something that greatly contrasts current arrangements where Kenyans have had to visit the library to get required information.
Speaking on the plans, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta indicated the virtual based library will accommodate 15 million publications. Uhuru further said the launch will entail various stages with the first phase expected to have 800,000 books digitized. Materials expected to be handled within the first phase will also include research papers, periodicals as well as government publications. 600,000 books which are currently available offline from the Kenya National Library Services will also be digitized according to the President.
These plans were revealed when the President was officially opening the Maktaba Kuu buildings that house the Kenya National Library Services (KNLS) headquarters. The initiative which is estimated to be completed within two years will involve several ministries including the ministry of culture and heritage, sports in conjunction with the Sports, Arts and Social Development Fund.
According to Mr. Kenyatta, all Kenyans are entitled to relevant information, and will be able to access these materials from wherever they are. He also pointed out there are prudent infrastructure in place to enable communities’ access to online information as well as connecting them to the rest of the world.
Maktaba Kuu will be the first multipurpose library in Kenya which according to Mr. Kenyatta is inline with his government’s promise to avail new methods that Kenyans can learn, obtain information, expand their intellectual horizons as well as promoting a reading culture.
Maktaba Kuu comes with a 300 capacity children theatre, a 50-capacity senior citizens section and four auditoriums with a combined capacity of 1,200 people customized to give room for local authors and artists to showcase their work. Additionally, there’s a 500-seater gallery dubbed Sanaa Centre which is available to local artists to showcase their artefacts.