Children can now learn and read about wildlife and the importance of conservation at the newly opened public library at the Uganda Wildlife Conservation Education Centre- UWEC.
The library is in the conference room, a few metres from the main entrance. Dr. James Musinguzi, the Executive Director UWEC, says that the library facilitated by Books for Development, a Non-Government Organisation will boost the centre’s education efforts.
He says that the NGO has also donated 50 mobile libraries for schools in the islands of Lake Victoria in Buvuma and Kalangala districts.
Books for Development, based in Houston, Texas in the United States of America, aims at creating libraries for communities and schools in developing countries with donated or low-cost books. At UWEC, the NGO has so far equipped the new library with over 1,000 books that have been arranged according to different age groups and subject matter.
The library is divided into nine sections such as Books that wow to include Pop-ups, moving pictures, science, applied science, history and geography. Also, there is the animal section that includes reptiles, amphibians, insects, fiction and non-fiction books that include encyclopedia, African animal stories, stories about River Nile, illustrative books and general medical books in the section dubbed, “Books that save lives”.
Mark Cotham, the President of Books for Development, who led a guided tour inside the library on Friday, said opening a conservation and education library is like planting and growing a tree.
He noted that the organisation has included a section for adults, both fiction and non-fiction books so that parents and guardians also learn to read. Cotham said, “We need to get people interested in utilizing the library. As adults, we should inspire the children, by reading first and getting knowledgeable.”
He now urges UWEC to market the library as a resourceful centre to visitors at the zoo and also create partnerships with schools, institutions and communities so as to promote awareness about wildlife conservation. UWEC staff and some of their children or those from within Entebbe attended the opening ceremony.
Agnes Sera, a worker at UWEC, brought her four children including 7-year-old Nakato Mutyaba who read pop-up storybooks for “The Little Mermaid”, “Cinderella” and “Miss Spider man’s Tea Party” to the opening ceremony. Nakato described to our reporter what the pop-ups in the Cinderella story book means and also what she knows about the story.
Sera says all her children love reading and is convinced that they will want to visit the library almost every day.
14-year-old Robinah Kire and Precious Ainembabazi, aged 16 years, also witnessed the library opening. They told our reporter that they will frequent the library since schools are closed. Kire is in senior one while Ainembabazi is in senior three.
However, discussions are ongoing on whether or not readers can borrow and return books. Otiti explains that people who want to use the library will not pay entry fees at the zoo unless they will also want to tour the zoo.
The centre has over 600 animal and bird species. It used to attract close to 400,000 visitors every year before the outbreak of COVID-19. Most of these visitors were school children and foreign tourists.