Congratulations to five young library innovators
Exciting international learning opportunity for five IYALI (Initiative for Young African Library Innovators) participants

You are here

The five young library innovators, from top left - Yusuf Ganyana, Kenya; centre panel,  Letta Shivute, Namibia; Sarah Nyaboke Ogembo, Kenya. Bottom row, from left, Dominic Bwalya Chitondo, Zambia, and  Daisy Ashabahebwa, Uganda.
The five young library innovators, from top left - Yusuf Ganyana, Kenya; centre panel, Letta Shivute, Namibia; Sarah Nyaboke Ogembo, Kenya. Bottom row, from left, Dominic Bwalya Chitondo, Zambia, and Daisy Ashabahebwa, Uganda.

Congratulations to five young public librarians from four African countries who have been selected to take part in the Public Library Association (PLA) 2020 Conference in the United States as part of IYALI 2020 (the Initiative for Young African Library Innovators 2020).

IYALI is an initiative of the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP). The initiative aims to expose emerging public library innovators in Africa to professional learning experiences and new ideas from other countries. IYALI 2020 is a partnership between EIFL and the PLA, which is a division of the American Library Association (ALA).

The PLA 2020 Conference takes place in Nashville, Tennessee, from 25 to 29 February. Offered biennially, the PLA Conference is the premier event for public library professionals, drawing thousands of librarians, library support staff, trustees, friends, and library vendors from across the United States and around the world. This multi-day event offers more than 100 top-quality education programmes, inspirational and entertaining speakers, social events that include author luncheons and networking receptions, and a bustling exhibition hall featuring the latest in products and services.


“Literally I am not sleeping! The IYALI 2020 experience will be awesome. The moment I got the message that I had been selected, I googled Nashville, USA. I also googled public libraries in Nashville and they are really, really, really advanced. I wish to bring back a bag full of knowledge to Kenya,” said Yusuf Ganyana, from Kenya National Library Service (KNLS), Kibera Branch. KNLS manages a network of over 60 public libraries across the country.

The young public librarians will meet a group of their colleagues in more senior positions who took part in the African library leadership academy, AfLAc, a programme developed by AFLIA (the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions) in collaboration with the PLA. Together they will visit public libraries in and around Nashville to see and experience how public libraries in the USA operate.



  • Sarah Nyaboke Ogembo, Librarian in the Resource Mobilization and Project Coordination Department of KNLS. “Libraries are for the people,” said Sarah. “My vision is to create unique library maker spaces in KNLS libraries where all the different kinds of people who walk through the library doors can develop creative and practical skills - children, teanagers adults, and also people with special needs.”
  • Yusuf Ganyana - Senior ICT officer in the ICT department of KNLS. Yusuf is based at KNLS / Kibera Public Library, which serves people living in Kibera, a giant slum on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi: “The library offers a place where people who are poor, and anxious about employment and their future, can voice their concerns to the librarian without being judged,” said Yusuf.

Namibia: Letta Shivute, Librarian at Mariental Community Library, one of 65 public libraries supervised by the Namibia Library and Archive Service: “We live in a world where libraries have changed from only lending books. They have become spaces for creative and life-transforming activities for all. I want to see the innovations in library services in the USA, how they benefit learning and also, how they involve decision-makers when they want to bring changes to their libraries,” said Letta.

Uganda: Daisy Ashabahebwa, Librarian in the Information Referral Service Department of the National Library of Uganda, which is responsible for development of public libraries across the country. “I have never travelled outside of Africa before. I can only imagine what is out there, and the people I am going to meet. I have heard about digital libraries in the USA, where everything is digital. I want to learn more about those libraries, and how we can start taking steps to transform our libraries in Uganda.”

Zambia: Dominic Bwalya Chitondo, Senior Assistant Librarian of Kitwe City Council Public Library, which serves Kitwe, Zambia’s second largest city.  “My vision is to increase the use of the library from its current average of 60 users per day to at least 200. I also wish to introduce more outreach programmes, especially reaching out to disadvantaged communities who live in the slums or shanty compounds.”

Find out more about IYALI here