The Kenya National Library Services has launched Kenya’s first virtual library containing over 200,000 digitised books, periodicals, research papers and government publications. The virtual library accessible from any internet enabled device globally will also host e-books downloadable for offline reading.
Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts, Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba also launched a tier-two data centre that state agencies and other public institutions can lease cloud storage services and a digitisation hub where Kenyans can seek to upload their books, records, newspapers or photographs.
The virtual library has an assortment of resources accessible for free, especially children’s content and general information e-books, journals and attracts a nominal daily membership fee of Kshs 20 fee payable via wireless payment platforms. One can also pay weekly at Kshs 100, monthly at Kshs 500, bi-annual at Kshs 1,500 and an annual membership fee is set at Kshs 2,500.
Speaking at the launch held at the Maktaba Kuu premises in Nairobi, Namwamba underscored the importance of technology and innovation in knowledge growth in enhancing Kenya’s global competitiveness, economic growth, and job creation initiatives, through online and content generation related careers.
“The Virtual Library with its Competency Based Curriculum (CBC) materials will greatly support the young learners to easily identify their talents and work to nurture these skills as their future career opportunities.
“The Talanta Hela initiative is meant to promote youth’s creativity and talents and the virtual library is a platform they can use to monetise their literary works.
“I, therefore, urge the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies to partner with KNLS in promoting knowledge sharing in schools, higher learning institutions and TVETs,” he said.
President William Ruto, in a speech read on his behalf by Namwamba, declared 12 July as the annual national reading day.
The virtual library that was set up at a cost of Kshs 250 million, seeks to encourage a reading culture and provide an avenue through which one can grow and hone their skills in a particular field, anytime and anywhere.
Content available on Vtabu includes e-books for any subject studied at Pre-School, Primary, Junior and High School, tertiary to the university level. Fiction and non-fiction works have also been included as well as e-books on any subject.
Apart from offering the virtual library service, KNLS has also invited state agencies and other organisations to use the KNLS data facility for cloud storage services and the KNLS Digitisation Hub for digitisation of vital documents, pictures and maps.
KNLS has also been using their digital platform to offer on-demand digital skills training such as coding, digital marketing, graphic design, and ICT skills to youths seeking to enhance their creativity and innovativeness. This will enable them to venture into the digital jobs available online.