SLA Press Release – 20 April 2012

SLA Contact:
John Walsh
Phone: 703.647.4917
jwalsh@sla.org

SLA Members Support Lubuto Library Project, Zambian Literacy
Information Professionals Help Deliver Literacy Program for African Children

Alexandria, Virginia, 20 April 2012 – Information professionals of the Special Libraries Association (SLA) have collaborated with their colleagues at the Lubuto Library Project (LLP) to finalize computer-based reading lessons for underprivileged children in Zambia.

The collaboration, which began in Zambia with the young programmers and artists who created the reading lessons, resulted in 700 lessons–100 in each of the 7 major languages of the country. SLA members from the Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Maryland Chapters of SLA put the finishing touches on the EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) grant-funded project by pairing the lesson recordings with each lesson. The reading lessons are part of the LubutoLiteracy Project, one of the many initiatives of the broader Lubuto Library Project.

The SLA volunteers enjoyed the opportunity to leverage their skills and relationships to help children in need, and many offered thanks for the invitation to participate.

“Being involved in the LubutoLiteracy Project felt more like a privilege than work, and I believe I took away much more than I gave,” recounted Mary Talley, a DC/SLA member who took part in the project. “My part was small–adding sound files to some 30-odd reading lessons in one of 7 Zambian languages. Knowing that each lesson is part of a ground-breaking project that gives disadvantaged Zambian children a chance to learn in their own language for the first time, and to prosper from it, made my small efforts feel larger. How could I ask for more from a volunteer project?”

Because they were created using the Etoys software, the lessons can be translated and adapted for use in different curricula, cultures and languages throughout Africa. Creative commons licenses were added to the reading lessons to inspire translation into similarly structured languages or the creation of similar programs in other African countries.

Aside from its primary goal of improving literacy, the project resulted in significant outcomes for its varied participants. For example, the youth who created the lessons earned the fees they needed to finish secondary school while also developing valuable computer and graphics skills. Most importantly, they made a valuable contribution to the educational system of Zambia.

“It’s hard to adequately express the importance of the LubutoLiteracy Project, which addresses so many fundamental problems at once:  low levels of literacy and school attendance resulting from the effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic; inadequate educational infrastructure to help children learn to read in their mother tongue; and publishing and IT systems that cannot serve the multiplicity of languages in most African countries,” explained Jane Meyers, president of the Lubuto Library Project.

“The international community of information professionals regularly overcomes language barriers and myriad cultural differences in their work,” said Janice Lachance, chief executive officer of SLA. “It’s inspiring when that community joins together and uses those skills to assist their colleagues in making a lasting, positive impact in the lives of people who are in need. I was pleased that this group of SLA members volunteered for the collaborative LubutoLiteracy initiative, and I applaud the important contributions they and their fellow information professionals make to important social causes around the world.”

The volunteers were welcomed with gratitude by the ambassador of Zambia during a reception at the Zambian Embassy in Washington, D.C., in early January of this year. View pictures of the reception here.

For more information on LubutoLiteracy , view EIFL’s April 2011 LubutoLiteracy Case Study (PDF).

About the Lubuto Library Project (http://www.lubuto.org/)
The Lubuto Library Project is an innovative development organization that creates opportunities for equitable, high quality education and poverty reduction in Africa through libraries and related educational, cultural and community programs.  Lubuto Libraries are indigenously-styled facilities with a comprehensive, balanced collection of professionally selected books. These libraries serve as safe havens for vulnerable children and youth and are a platform for integrated programs, which offer discovery and learning through reading, recording of local stories, music, art, drama, computers and other activities.  By fostering literacy, language skills, awareness and respect of cultural heritage, general knowledge of the world, enjoyment of books and learning, and an enhanced sense of self-worth among children, Lubuto Libraries improve educational outcomes for all those that use them.

About SLA
The Special Libraries Association (SLA) is a nonprofit global organization for innovative information professionals and their strategic partners. SLA serves 9,000 members in 75 countries in the information profession, including corporate, academic and government information specialists. SLA promotes and strengthens its members through learning, advocacy and networking initiatives. For more information, visit www.sla.org.

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