Book Bunk Trust to digitise 43,200 books at McMillan Memorial Library

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Book Bunk Trust has launched a campaign dubbed The Missing Bits in a bid to digitize 43,200 copies of rare old books, newspapers, and documents. This follows a successful first cycle that digitized 31,549 archives featuring documents and newspapers tracing back to Kenya’s colonial and early post-colonial eras. 

“This second strand of digitization work is vital because it seeks to engage with the public on the missing bits of their individual and collective memories that make us Kenyan. Through this offering of public programming, we aim to develop further a repository of Kenya’s public memory around key events and make these accessible to all,” said Syokau Mutonga, Research, and Inventory Manager

Members of the public can now visit Kaloleni Library, Eastlands Library in Makadara, and McMillan Memorial Library on Banda Street to access digitization equipment to digitize their personal archives, including; photographs, albums, letters, and other cherished personal items. 

Additionally, Book Bunk is also seeking to grow the archive with crowd-sourced audio stories about key moments tied to Kenya’s colonial past and present. Members of the public can now record their recollections of key times and choose to donate these recordings to the public archive. Public programming for this segment also includes panel discussions, film screenings, exhibitions, and other diverse offerings in partnership with organizations in the creative sector, including The Nest CollectiveBaraza Media LabDocubox, and Ketebul Music

The digitization of archives at the library began in November 2020 and focused on providing public access to the newly digitized archives as the project’s main outcome. Following its completion, the project now seeks to engage with diverse audiences and create compelling new media. 

“We are excited to explore the potential that crowd-sourced archives will introduce to Nairobi’s oldest library’s collection, and how these diverse narratives will further showcase the breath of our shared memories, as well as how we can use existing technology to safeguard public memory for current and future generations to explore and enjoy,” added Angela Wachuka, Founder & Managing Trustee at Book Bunk 

The project, which is supported by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, and in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, will provide Kenyans an opportunity to carefully examine our country’s history. Ultimately, this project feeds into Book Bunk’s larger goal of transforming these spaces into centres of cultural leadership, heritage, public art, knowledge production, shared experiences and information exchange. 


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