I have been looking in our electronic databases for articles about libraries making use of mobile technologies, only to inevitably find that queries for “mobile” and “libraries” also return some articles about library services which move around. In the UK, most mobile library services are done using library vans (I still think that as a librarian, I really must own a former library van one day, anyway, enough of that for now). However, an interesting article I accidentally came across during my search revealed that in Kenya, they are using camels to deliver mobile library services to nomadic pastoralists.
The article is in the Emerald database, which contains a range of electronic journals, but mostly journals for the subjects of business and librarianship. The article, by Richard Masaranga Atuti and J.R. Ikoja-Odongo, is called Private camel library brings hope to pastoralists: the Kenyan experience, and is published in the 1999 edition of Library Review, Vol 48, No 1, pp. 36 – 42. Bangor University members should be able to log into the article here: Private camel library brings hope…(Emerald).
To find the article, search on the library databases list for Emerald, click on Emerald Journals (twice), and type camel library into the search box, it will be the first article in the list which returns.
The article describes how the camel library works: “Work begins with the loading of books in four boxes which carry a total of about 300 books. The rotating stock is mainly fiction, text books and reference materials. Book boxes together with a tent, two chairs, a table and umbrellas are loaded on the camels. Then they move out in a caravan on a particular route to the service centres, villages (manyattas) and their service point or stops like schools. On arrival at the stop, the items are unloaded. The tent is pitched and information materials displayed on shelves fixed to the walls of a tent. A floor mat is spread inside the tent to allow those who want to read within the tent to do so. Others borrow information materials for home reading. Meanwhile the camels are released to recuperate.” (Atuti & Ikoja-Odongo, 1999, p39).
There is a 2005 article in the Observer newspaper about the camel library, and how much it means to the people (particularly the children) visited by the mobile library. As a lifelong book lover myself, I can only imagine the joys the camels bring to some of these lovers of reading.