We started off with very high expectations of establishing our “Professor Fred Opio Ekong Memorial Library,” in honour of our founder vice chairpersons, the late Professor Fred Opio Ekong.
We rummaged through our stores and found loads of publications from our time as the Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (1992-2008); we solicited donations of publications; bought some books; and indeed, we ended up with a respectable collection of thousands of publications for our library. We were excited.
We made two unsuccessful attempts to hire a librarian. Each time the person just quit, because it got so lonely in the library. Yes, our biggest failure came from the fact that we totally underestimated the inadequate reading culture that prevails in Uganda.
We are surrounded by multiple academic institutions – universities, schools, institutes; by government offices and NGOs; but non of the students, academic staff and other professionals found it of interest to invest in membership of our library, in order to have access to the fabulous books that we have – academic books; government and NGO reports; periodicals such as the Guardian Weekly and the National Geographic going back to the 1960s; and novels as well.
Not even the young adults whom we are mentoring to become innovators against poverty in rural Uganda found interest in investing time in the library for which they had free access. We are not giving up. We have decided to take a step back to nurture the culture of reading. Hence, the change from a library to a reading room.We will update you on how it goes.
In the meantime, if ever you find yourself in Lira City and you are looking for a clean and quiet place to read for leisure and for work (including bringing your work to read), you are welcome to use our Reading Room at a modest fee of Ug.Shs. 2,000 per day (about USD 57 cents) only.
Please note that while you are in our Reading Room, you can read from your own laptop. However, if you would like to access the internet, you can do so using your own internet services. Our reading room is deliberately Wifi-free. This is because we would like to encourage the reading of books old school.
Within our Lira Learning Centre, however, is a full fledged Business Room through which you can have access to the internet; as well as typing, printing and photocopying services; as well purchase of stationary. Our Business Room is right next to our Canteen from whence you can access nutritious snacks, food and soft drinks.
We are located at Plot 5, Makerere Road, right opposite the Lira City Council Offices (former Lira District Local Government Headquarters); and we share boundaries with the Lira Golf Course grounds.