Nairobi’s public libraries are being restored thanks to Book Bunk

Book Bunk has been working to restore our public libraries.

Book Bunk is a social impact firm founded in October 2017 by Wanjiru Koinange and Angela Wachuka. The forms works to restore some of Nairobi’s iconic public libraries; The McMillan Memorial Library, and two of its branches in Eastlands (Kaloleni Library and Eastlands Library in Makadara). Their plan is to steer public libraries to become more than just repositories, acting as sites of knowledge production, shared experiences, cultural leadership and information exchange. “We see them as sites of heritage, public art, memory and as critical spaces in Nairobi and Kenya’s creative economy ecology.”

The McMillan Memorial Library initially had five branches (Kayole, Waithaka, Kaloleni, Makadara and Banda Street). Two of these are closed and the three others are the main focus of the restoration work. The Makadara library gets an average of 182 users a day, almost all of whom live within the Makadara area. Most of its visitors are young adults who are either using the space to study or are working on their devices. Book Bunk’s restoration plans for this library are specific to the needs of Makadara. They plan to acquire a new collection of books, continue to curate specific programming inspired by the community, and introduce innovative arts and learning programmes primarily for young adults.

The Kaloleni Library is the smallest branch of the three and caters to a much younger audiences, mostly children. Restoration plans for this library are focused on children, and was completed in June 2020. Plans extend to the adjacent Kaloleni Social Hall, which holds a significant place in Kenya’s independence history.

McMillan Library on Banda Street now has a new look too. The Book Bunk team is filling up the shelves with African authors and has made the book collections more relevant to the public’s interests.

Visit Book Bunk to find out more about their projects and donate to the excellent works they are doing.

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