Book Bunk

Nairobi, , 00522 Kenya

Mission Statement

Book Bunk is working to restore some of Nairobi’s most iconic public libraries into sites of heritage, public art, collective memory, knowledge production, shared experiences, cultural leadership and information exchange.

About This Cause

Book Bunk is a social impact firm founded in October 2017 by Wanjiru Koinange and Angela Wachuka. We are working to restore some of Nairobi’s iconic public libraries; The McMillan Memorial Library on Banda Street and two of its branches in Eastlands (Kaloleni Library and Eastlands Library in Makadara). We imagine that public libraries can be steered 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.

In March 2018, we formalised a milestone partnership with the Nairobi City County government. This partnership grants the Trust the mandate to drive restoration efforts and resource mobilisation for these libraries. Book Bunk’s responsibilities include sourcing and management of fiscal and other support; steering and management of architectural restoration and management of these public library spaces including design and delivery of programming.

Our Approach: Our overall objective is to restore these public libraries into inclusive and usable spaces. To achieve our aims, we have centred our work around three pillars;

1) Research and Inventory: We began audience research in April 2017 that sought to explore how Nairobi's citizens and arts fraternity perceive and engage with the three library spaces as well as potential future programming. Our data indicates that the average user is under 35 years old and immediate desired improvements include activities for children and extended library hours. Our team of 6 interns completed the cataloguing process in December 2019, creating the library's first-ever digital catalogue of just over 137,000 titles, including a newspaper archive dating back to 1906.

2) Programming: Audience feedback and other research highlighted above has informed the expansion of our arts programming to include storytelling, film screenings, theatre and music this year. Other additions from gathered feedback include extended operating hours for use by homework clubs. Current use is at an average of 283 users per day. We are currently partnering with artists and others to curate, present and document cultural and artistic programming that fosters citizen participation. From May 2019, all programming hosted at the three branches of the library is delivered in partnership with artists, writers and creative groups selected from public call-outs. We hosted a total of 23 public events in 2019.

3) Architecture: We have undertaken preliminary architectural modelling and research for two of the three buildings. The restoration of Kaloleni and Makadara branches are now fully priced and restoration of the Kaloleni branch began in March 2020. In the next year, we plan to do the same for the main branch on Banda Street, which will require a pre-set series of consultations as it is a gazetted/ protected building.

Book Bunk
Ikigai, General Mathenge Close, Westlands. Po Box 532-00522, Makadara
Nairobi, 00522
Kenya
Phone +254 (0) 714 258 474
Twitter @thebookbunk
Unique Identifier 5715767186771_767c