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Hello Friends!

We truly hope you are well, keeping safe and adjusting to the times.
We thought we would use some of this COVID-19 mandated downtime to respond to some questions we get a lot, as well as share some of the video content that we've been working on! 
Missed a newsletter? Catch up here and then sign up here so you never miss another one! 

1. What exactly is Book Bunk? 

Book Bunk Trust is an incorporated Charitable Trust founded in 2017 by Angela Wachuka (publisher)  and Wanjiru Koinange (writer)  for the sole purpose of restoring public libraries in Nairobi. Our work is inspired by a fundamental belief that libraries today can offer much more to its publics, serving as centres for art, learning, history and community. We're governed by a Board of Trustees, steered by our founders, guided by an Advisory board (coming soon) and championed by a growing network of friends, partners, supporters and learners. 
WATCH: Here's a video we released almost two years ago created by our friends, at Circle & Square Productions who are working on a feature-length documentary about our work! More as it unfolds...
 

2. How do you restore libraries? What is your approach?

We started with research. These libraries have always been championed and frequented by active users who have shared desired improvements and other key usage data. Our first action was to speak to general audiences and to then co-design some art and creative showcases in these spaces as part of the overall restoration, which has included a public call-out to host experiences for Nairobi residents as well as a call-out for volunteers to share skill sets. A full restoration, in our view, means updating social, experiential, physical and digital lives of these libraries. 
WATCH: And here's one from the inaugural edition of Music Bunk, a school holiday music programme that we hosted in August 2019 at the Eastlands (Makadara) branch. We're currently raising funds to do this in 2020!
WATCH: Our first event targeted at senior citizens was emotional for some and insightful for all. The event reiterated the need to see ourselves depicted in the collections and activities that live in these libraries. 
3. Do you work outside of Nairobi? 
Not presently. We have our hands full with the three locations in Nairobi at the moment - a great opportunity to learn and apply this elsewhere, once we’ve earned our stripes and tested our model! 

4. Are you privatising public libraries?
No. We are working in partnership with custodians of these spaces, and situating our work within the particular histories and cultures of the spaces and their communities. We also host weekly tours highlighting these histories. 

5. Do you involve the community in this process? 
Yes, our events and sessions are all targeted at the communities living around the respective libraries. We host quarterly community feedback sessions for updates on the progress of things, as well as input from library users and surrounding communities. 
Additionally, we extend work and other opportunities to local residents - as at March 2020, Kaloleni Library’s restoration had employed 28 Kaloleni residents, providing carpentry, roofing, painting works, general cleaning and other labour required.
WATCH: This was the first time that he hosted an event inside the actual Kaloleni library. Until then, we'd used the adjacent social hall. This event confirmed to us this that space should always prioritise children.
6. How do I become a member of the library? 
While we work to improve the membership experience, library users who wish to access the collections can acquire membership from Nairobi City County in person at the McMillan Memorial Library on Banda Street. We will notify the public when a new membership system is in place and in the meantime, sign-up to receive membership notification in future. 

7. Can I rent the libraries for my own events?
Book Bunk is currently not mandated to rent out any of the library spaces for private events. We are currently working on the terms as well as prerequisite repairs required to make this a seamless experience. We will share a rate card as soon as we have one - sign up here for alerts

8. Can I volunteer/ intern at Book Bunk? 
We share all call-outs for interns, volunteers and others via our social media pages and on our website. Our last call for volunteers closed on 31st March 2020. 
WATCH: In 2019 we created the first-ever digital catalogue of the libraries' collection! This informed the weeding process that is currently underway. Books that we remove from the collection will be handed back to the Nairobi County. 

9. Can I donate books to the library?

In order to ensure that we are curating a library catalogue that meets the needs of each library's users, we generate wish lists needed for each, paying particular attention to their histories, and those of their collections. Please donate books from this list, generated specifically for the library’s children’s collection and leaning heavily on stories by African authors. Should there be particular collections/ titles you think our public libraries ought to have, please write to Syokau. 
Write to Syokau

10. Ok, so what do you need?

Our goals for 2020 are to continue to grow and develop our teams; complete the restoration of the Kaloleni Branch (on course), begin work on the Makadara (Eastlands) branch, and to carry out urgent repairs (electricals, sanitation, wifi) to the main branch. Our research team continues to work on sorting through the current collection and as soon as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, we hope to resume programming events at the libraries. 
We're working on securing the resources and partnerships needed to deliver these goals and are always keen to explore new precious partnerships and connect with more donors. If you'd like to plug into our dreams for Nairobi's libraries or know someone who might, please write to Sahar below.
Write to Sahar
WATCH: Kali Live at McMillan! The library hosted a live recording of the popular podcast that is produced by Kali Media and that featured a conversation with Kenyan author Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
12. I’d like to book an interview with someone from Book Bunk. How can I do this? 

Sure, thank you for the future coverage. Please visit our news page first for an idea of what’s already been covered, then send an email to hello@bookbunk.org with information about your piece, media entity or platform and with whom you would like to speak. 

13. Where can we find you? 

We're creatures of the internet! Links to all our social media platforms are available below. 

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Website
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