The Youth Affairs, Sports, and Arts Cabinet Secretary, Ababu Namwamba, has officially launched the first-ever virtual library, housing over 200,000 digitized books, periodicals, research papers, and government publications.
This online library, known as Vtabu, was announced in September 2022 and is accessible globally from any internet-enabled device. It also offers downloadable e-books for offline reading. With an investment of 250 million Kenyan shillings by the Kenya National Library Service (KNLS), the virtual library aims to foster a reading culture and provide a platform for individuals to develop and refine their skills in various fields, at their convenience.
During the launch at Maktaba Kuu in Nairobi on July 12, 2023, CS Namwamba highlighted the significance of technology and innovation in knowledge advancement. The virtual library, coupled with its Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) materials, aims to support young learners in identifying and nurturing their talents for future career opportunities.
CS Namwamba also inaugurated a two-tier data centre, allowing state agencies and public institutions to lease cloud storage services.
Additionally, a digitization hub was introduced, enabling Kenyans to upload their books, newspapers, photographs, and records. Vtabu offers a diverse range of resources, including children’s content, general information e-books, fiction, non-fiction, journals, cartoons, photography, wildlife, tourism, culture, science, information technology, and CBC education materials, accessible for free. However, a nominal daily membership fee of 20 Kenyan shillings is required, which can be paid through wireless payment platforms. Other subscription options include weekly, monthly, bi-annual, and annual fees.
President William Ruto declared July 12 as the annual national reading day, as conveyed by CS Namwamba on his behalf. KNLS CEO Charles Nzivo invited state agencies and organizations to utilize the KNLS data facility for cloud storage services and the KNLS Digitization Hub for digitizing essential documents, pictures, and maps.
Furthermore, Nzivo highlighted that KNLS offers on-demand digital skills training in coding, digital marketing, graphic design, and ICT skills to empower youth with creativity and innovation, enabling them to explore online job opportunities.