Frequently Asked Questions

What is the origin of the Maktaba Project?

The Maktaba Project, a Tanzanian not for profit company incorporated in Tanzania on 6-3-11, was established by Augustine P. Mahiga, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for the Political Office for Somolia and former Ambassador from Tanzania to the United Nations, and Judith C. & Stephen W. Smith.

The JifundisheFree Library in Ngongongare Village near Arusha is the template on which the Maktaba Project is based.  The Project complements the Tanzanian Government’s efforts to promote education at all levels in the country and to sustain current literacy rates in rural areas.  Rural libraries are greatly needed since there is only one government library in each of the country’s 26 regions and a shortage of books and other teaching and learning materials in government-run schools.

What is the Project’s mission?

The mission of the Project is to promote literacy and provide educational opportunities for children and their families in rural Tanzania.  By providing free access to books, learning opportunities, and the Internet, the Maktaba Project (“library” in Kiswahili) will empower people in rural Tanzanian communities with the information and skills necessary to foster individual achievement, self-esteem and community development.

The Maktaba Project will achieve this mission, working in cooperation with local community leaders and volunteers from around the world, by building six library/community centers in the coming years in rural villages throughout Tanzania.

Is there a longer-term vision for the Project?

Each library/community center will be managed by a local Board of Directors comprised of local leaders and volunteers who will be vested in the success of the library.  The local Board will have responsibility for developing each library not only as an education center, but also as a community center.  Toward that end, the Board will identify and implement programs that best meet the needs of the community.  Examples of such programs might include Women’s Business Cooperatives that generate income for local villagers through craft-oriented products, microfinance projects, adult English literacy classes, independent study programs that prepare students to take and pass the national exam making them eligible for university, HIV/AIDS awareness programs, Internet technology training programs, and eye, dental, and malaria clinics.


Who will govern and provide fiduciary management of the Project?

The Board of Directors of the Project will have full responsibility for its governance and fiduciary management and also be responsible for raising the funds from the private sector to construct, equip, and furnish, and operate the six libraries. The Board also will assist in: selecting library sites; assisting each library in developing proper administration and financial controls that with ongoing revenue-generating programs and initiatives and fundraising efforts will ensure their successful and sustainable operation; providing guidance and advice on library programs; and training library staff.

The Maktaba Project has hired A.S.K. Associates, Dar es Salaam, the leading law firm in Tanzania, to do the legal work for the Project.  It has engaged the Dar es Salaam office of Crowe Horwath International as the auditor.  It has engaged FTC Consultants Limited, Dar es Salaam as the firm to provide accounting and business services.

What is the role of the Tanzanian Government in the Project?

The Tanzanian Government is cooperating with the Maktaba Project, which has the full support of President Kikwete.  The Tanzanian Government’s contributions will be to donate the land, to fund the annual costs of a librarian for each library site, and to supply appropriate textbooks. In addition, President Kikwete has asked officials from selected Tanzanian agencies to serve on the Project’s Board of Directors.

How will the rural library sites be selected?

Sites will be selected based on their proximity to primary and secondary schools and tertiary institutes of learning.  This will ensure that each site has sufficient numbers of students and teachers to utilize each library and also a cadre of teachers to draw upon to develop and teach programs. A second criteria for the selection of each site will be the ability to identify leaders in each rural community who are enthusiastic about and committed to the Project and willing to take the lead on working with the Board of Directors to implement it at the local level.
The first two library/community sites in Kisaware and Iringa, located west of Dar es Salaam, were selected based on these criteria.

Who is the architect for the Project? Who will manage construction and how long will it take to build each library?

At present, the lead architect is Lisa Kriedeman of Island Architects based San Diego, CA. Lisa works in conjunction with Alphonce Nchimbi, an architect based in Tazania.

On-site project management for each library will be the responsibility of Meleck Ackyo, a Tanzanian who did the project management for the Jifundishe Free Library.

It is estimated that construction of each library will take about four months.

What is the staff structure for each library?

Each library will have a director and a librarian, as well as an information technologies librarian, maintenance/gardener, and two watchmen. Temporary help also will be engaged periodically.

Will the libraries have internet access?

Each library will offer extensive computer literacy training programs. They can also be utilized as teacher training centers. Primary and secondary students and teachers will be offered training courses, as will local villagers. The library will be the total information center for its area.

How will the Community Room be used?

In addition to literacy and other various programs, it will serve as a meeting space for craft co-operatives, movie nights and micro finance groups, etc. It will have a teaching kitchen with programs related to canning and dehydrating foods, basic childhood nutrition, pesticide education, pre-natal nutritional support, bartering techniques, and farming information. We propose to build a community garden on the property.

What about sustainability?

Ensuring the financial sustainability of each library is a goal of the Maktaba Project.  Towards that end a variety of projects and initiatives will be launched that generate annual operating support for the libraries.


Donors to the Maktaba Project will be appropriately recognized.

The Friends of the Maktaba Project, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non profit organization. Contributions in the United States are to be made to this entity. All contributions to the Project will be fully tax deductible.