As part of its mission to promote a culture of learning, research and inquiry, the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS) has embarked on an ambitious plan to open libraries across major cities in Somalia. Early on, HIPS recognized that it can’t execute its main mission—to inform and influence public policy through evidence informed research and analysis—unless it contributes to a culture of research.
The initial assessment of HIPS found that the country’s capital city, Mogadishu, doesn’t have a public library. With more than 50,000 students at all levels of education, HIPS decided to start in the capital city. It identified the former National Library building, a government building at the heart of the capital, as a first possibility. After series of feasibility studies, surveys and consultations with key stakeholders, HIPS devised a “Public-Private-Partnership”
Under the PPP approach, HIPS mobilized civil society leaders, including academic community, businesspeople, youth and women’s groups, to convince the government to participate in an effort to recommission the National Library. A seven-member board, comprising of key civil society individuals and government officials, is formed. The Board of Trustees (BoT) has now officially asked the Somali Federal Government to give the necessary permissions to start renovating the building and starting the long and ardouos process of starting the first public library in Somalia.
The vision of HIPS is to identify other cities with large populations and no public libraries. Kismaayo, Baidoa, Galkao and Boosaaso are all possibilities. Once the Mogadishu library is set-up, HIPS will capitalize on its experience, connections and resources to move to other cities.
Our ultimate goal is to plant the seeds for a society that engages in reading and appreciates the work of researchers and analysts.