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Friends of African Village Libraries FAVL support for African village libraries: Basic policy Revised: April 19, 2011This document is intended to clarify, for donors and community libraries, the relationshipbetween FAVL, library donors, and community libraries in Africa. We welcome yourparticipation in our activities, and please feel free to contact a FAVL director to discuss questionsor comments on this document. FAVL is very much a community, and your passion forpromoting reading is something that binds us together.What is FAVL?The mission of Friends of African Village Libraries (FAVL) is to support networks of communitylibraries in Africa. Community libraries are open to the public and operated on a non-profit basisthat have been initiated or are currently operated as public libraries by various entities, whetherlocal community groups, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs, such as FAVL),or government structures. Librarians are typically employees of a local government structure(rural council, village community) or an NGO, or are volunteers.FAVL offers support, training, and supervision to community libraries, and facilitates verificationof library quality and operations for donors (“friends of the library”). FAVL may act as a brokeror partner for donors who wish to support village libraries but lack the expertise or local staff toimplement a library-support program. Depending on funding availability, FAVL may initiateand invite participation in programs that disburse grants or provide training (e.g.workshops). FAVL may also from time to time undertake library-related activities that do notdirectly involve supporting libraries. These include production and publication of appropriatebooks in local languages, evaluation and analysis of functioning and impact of public libraries invillages, and promotion of reading, culture and the arts, and civic engagement in the context ofvillage libraries.FAVL was started in 2001 in the United States, and is an IRS recognized non-profit 501c3organization. The directors and officers of FAVL are all volunteers. Our expenses in the UnitedStates are basic administrative costs (maintaining websites, sending thank you letters) andpublicity (newsletters, promotional fundraising events). More information about FAVL is atwww.favl.org.How does a donor work with FAVL to establish a library?Our current process and policy for donors or grant agencies that wish to establish new libraries isas follows. (In the discussion below, we will often refer to “local entities” which may include awide variety of local actors- from local rural councils and mayors, to local representatives ofgovernment entities such as the national library board, to local community based organizations(CBOs), to local branches of national associations or non-profit organizations.)• A donor or grant agency approaches FAVL (often by emailing FAVL director for West Africa Michael Kevane, at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, or by emailing FAVL director for East Africa Kate Parry at firstname.lastname@example.org) for cooperation in establishment and support over the long-term of one or more community libraries. o FAVL discourages establishment of new libraries if there is no likelihood of long- 1
term commitment to the library, either through an endowment fund or through a long-term commitment by the sponsors. o FAVL discourages establishment of new libraries in regions where there is little capacity for effective management, training and accountability. That is, FAVL prefers to work in regions where a regional or national library association, or FAVL or other NGOs, have strong records of supervisory and support capacity.• After preliminary discussions, a plan of action is worked out where local FAVL coordinators will visit the proposed site and negotiate a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between a local entity and FAVL. o Local entities should commit to responsibility for the salary of the librarian and provision of land and/or building for the library. FAVL discourages the use of donor funds to purchase land or buildings for public purpose in village communities (except in some countries such as Uganda where villages have little public or communal land); the proper role of the local communal authority is to designate land or buildings for a public purpose such as a library. Generally, FAVL suggests that the librarian position be a half-time position, and be compensated at the rate of half a local primary school-teacher salary. In many countries this translates to about $70 per month. FAVL also strongly recommends that a librarian assistant be hired at ¼ time, to act as replacement, trainee, and librarian aide. Ideally the librarian and assistant would be different genders (male/female) so as to make girls and boys, and men and women, feel comfortable coming to the library. The MOU might provide for subsidizing the initial librarian salary by making transfers to the local entity for a defined period of time, if the donor is willing to subsidize the librarian salary. o Library land, building, furnishings and books belong to the local entity, and not to FAVL or the donor. o The local community entity has primary responsibility for management and quality assurance of the work of the librarian and other library staff. o FAVL representatives will be considered vital support and supervisory aides for the well-functioning of the library, and continued FAVL support for the library depends on good performance of the library. Local entities must demonstrate no conflict-of-interest or self-dealing between library management and library operations (e.g. library does not pay excessive rent or salary to library managers) Local entities are committed to transparent and accessible bookkeeping practices. The immediate test of those practices is that their books are available to FAVL personnel for regular inspection and dissemination. o The MOU will include as an annex a budget for the initial start-up costs of establishing the library. These might range, in a typical village, from $3,000 to $10,000, depending on whether a building is already available and the level of local support. o The MOU will include as an annex a three year operating budget. The budget describes the support (training, supervision, refurbishment, book restocking, programs such as summer reading camps and after-school activities, evaluation, etc.) that FAVL will provide to the library, as well as ordinary operating expenses of the library. o The MOU might provide that the library be named in honor of the donor or designee of the donor, so long as the community entity, the community in general assembly or 2
through its representatives, and FAVL are accepting of such a naming designation.• After the MOU is negotiated, FAVL and the sponsor will work out an initial endowment fund to be attained, or committed to as a stream of payments over a defined period of time, before FAVL will begin work on the library. This endowment fund is in addition to the costs of establishing the library. o Typically the endowment for libraries in Burkina Faso would be on the order of $15,000. This sum should be 300% of the three-year budget outlined in the MOU, enabling a six-year level of support, plus a reserve fund for emergencies and continued operations at minimal levels of service should further donations and endowments not be forthcoming for the library. o A specified percentage of donated funds will be allocated to the general FAVL budget for overhead. A typical percentage would be 5%, but individual circumstances for a particular library may lead to upwards or downwards modification. Each case will be unique. The percentage will vary according to the expenses likely to be incurred in ongoing oversight, accounting and donor management expenses and effort, and library quality assurance (e.g. through site visits by FAVL representatives). FAVL will generally not establish an affiliation with a donor and library location that is far away (in terms of travel cost and time) from existing FAVL structures (presently in Burkina Faso, northern Ghana, and Uganda). After the MOU is agreed upon between the community and FAVL, and the donor is willing to fund the library and operating cost endowment, what happens? The following steps are typically taken after an agreement is worked out. • FAVL receives funds from sponsor or donor. • FAVL transfers funds to country office. • FAVL representative in country initiates establishment of the library, working with local entity and community members. • FAVL representative works with local entity and community members to recruit librarian and librarian assistant. Librarian is trained at existing FAVL libraries for two week period. • FAVL representative, with newly hired librarian, purchases initial book stock and furniture, and supervises final stages of library establishment. • FAVL works with community to organize library opening day ceremonies. These typically involve subscribing several hundred students to be members of the library. • FAVL helps librarian during first weeks of operation. • FAVL begins regular site visits and sends regular reports to library donor or sponsor. • Librarian begins regular attendance at monthly librarian meetings. • FAVL manages library endowment funds and sends regular reports to donor. • FAVL can help arrange library visit by donor! 3