Power of books celebrated by UN chief as new library opens in Ethiopian capital

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31 January 2012 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon celebrated the benefits that books can bring to young people as he opened a library at an Ethiopian primary school that has been established under an innovative United Nations scheme.

At a ceremony yesterday in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, Mr. Ban took part in the hand over of a “Thank You Small Library (TYSL),” which will now be used by the roughly 1,200 pupils attending Keykokeb primary school.

At least 110 separate libraries have been created in 15 countries – mostly in sub-Saharan Africa – since 2007, when the so-called TYSL initiative began.

The initiative was designed and implemented by the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) ST-EP Foundation as part of broader UN efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by their target date of 2015.

The initiative focuses on setting up small libraries in areas where children do not have good access to reading and studying facilities. The libraries are established on existing premises, so no new buildings are required, with the foundation supplying more than 2,000 books per facility.

The foundation also supplies libraries with basic infrastructure such as bookshelves, tables, desks and chairs, and the furniture is usually manufactured locally and eco-friendly.

At the ceremony Mr. Ban noted the differences that libraries such as the one in Keykokeb primary school can make to their local communities.

“A library is not just a building full of books,” he said, according to remarks prepared for the event. “It is a garden to cultivate individuals. A book is not just a collection of papers. A book is nourishment for your mind. With a book, you can travel, learn and grow.”

He also paid tribute to the Republic of Korea (ROK), which funded the Keykokeb library, noting that it was making a difference with education in developing countries.