Kericho – The Kericho County government has earmarked Sh10 million in its current financial budget to upgrade the local Kenya National Library Service (KNLS) facility. This initiative is aimed at improving access to reading materials for residents and school children in the region, enhancing the educational and cultural landscape of the county.
According to Kenya News Agency, Library, Culture, and Social Services, Richard Tonui, this allocation marks the first step in revamping the Kericho KNLS facility, which has recently been devolved to the county administration. “Out of the total allocation, Sh5 million will be utilized for renovation works, and another Sh5 million will go towards the purchase of new books,” Tonui stated.
The renovation efforts will focus on making the library more accessible to persons with disabilities (PWDs), including installing facilities for the visually impaired, such as Braille reading materials. Tonui highlighted the urgency of these upgrades, noting the outdated infrastructure of the library, which was initially constructed in the 1980s without compliance with current standards for accessibility.
Tonui also emphasized the importance of fostering a reading culture among children and steering them away from excessive reliance on mobile phones. He pointed out that the Kericho KNLS library, with its diverse collection of books and digital resources, offers a conducive environment for research and learning.
The county government’s commitment to enhance the library’s services comes in the wake of a visually impaired man’s experiences with the facility. Mzee Andrew Kiprono Chepkwony, a 53-year-old resident of Kipsolu village and a regular user of the library, shared his challenges in accessing suitable materials and navigating the library. Chepkwony, who lost his eyesight at a young age, expressed his love for reading but lamented the lack of updated Braille books and the absence of staff trained to assist visually impaired users.
Chepkwony also urged the county government to invest in information and communication technology (ICT) to provide life-changing opportunities for individuals with disabilities, especially in computer skills. He recalled the benefits of a program by the Kenya Society for the Blind (KSB) that provided Braille machines and computer training until its discontinuation in 2009.
The Kericho library, located opposite the Kericho Green Square Mall on the Kericho-Kisumu highway, has been serving the public since its opening in 1981. The county’s initiative to revamp the library is a significant step towards inclusivity and equal access to educational resources for all community members.