Uganda has the Digital Bookmobile

I’ve started looking at World Changing, and today they have a fascinating reference to this digital bookmobile in Uganda.

Inside the Bookmobile is a PC and laser printer provided by Hewlett Packard, a paper cutter, and a hot-melt glue binding machine created by Berkeley, CA-based Powis Parker.

With this equipment loaded into a four-wheel drive diesel van, National Library staff are bringing a whole new world of books to rural Uganda. Schools in this sub-Saharan African country typically have one textbook for every five or six children, and literature and storybooks are virtually unavailable for most schoolchildren.

and later in the article:

So where do all these books come from? First and foremost, from the public domain collections on the Internet Archive. The Archive boasts more than 30,000 public domain works freely available for download, printing and other uses. One hundred thousand works will be available by the end of 2004. In Uganda, classic books like “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” and “The Wizard of Oz” are filling school libraries.

In addition, the project is funding two scanning stations at the National Library offices in Kampala, where operators will scan AIDS education, farming improvement, adult literacy, and other materials for the Bookmobile to print. All these materials will also be made available on the Internet Archive.

The Bookmobile concept was pioneered by Brewster Kahle, digital librarian of the Internet Archive in October 2002. Kahle built the first bookmobile and drove it across the US to demonstrate the value of public domain materials. Kahle has also helped the government of India and the Library of Alexandria in Egypt to create their own bookmobiles.

I like this. If I were to go do some volunteer work abroad, this seems like a good one. Go to the heart of Africa, and drive the bookmobile! You could be “Johnny Bookseed”, spreading tools for literacy in your wake.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.

2 thoughts on “Uganda has the Digital Bookmobile”

  1. This is really greate work for this country.
    By all means we shall catch up with the first world.
    WE pray that there is more support for the project.

  2. Peter, are you in Uganda? Do you have any first hand knowledge about this project? What kinds of books are typically ones that people get printed? It seems like it would be anglophilic with mostly western books since that’s what is available already in digital form. It also sounds like they are trying to get as much local work into this form.

    I hope this does in fact help out and that it helps Uganda join the party that is the first world. I’m very interested in this and hope to stay on top of the news of this project.

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