Starting a Digital Library Program in Ecuador by Nitya Agrawal

by tuftsigl
Aug 31

This summer, Cristina and I from BUILD Latin America got the chance to travel to Ecuador for a week to meet with NGOs, visit schools, and speak about our digital library program. This project started in January 2016, when Juan David (Class of 2016) told BUILD LA that he wanted to work with Libraries Without Borders (where he had interned the previous summer) to start a new digital library program in Ecuador. Libraries Without Borders (LWB) has run digital library programs in several countries around the world, mainly within Africa. BUILD LA was excited to work on this project and soon we had a team of dedicated students. We spent the semester and summer thoroughly researching education NGOs in Ecuador, their communities, and areas of intervention.

The technology for the digital library program is called a Koombook, which is a portable server that can store online educational resources. A community without access to Internet connection can access these resources solely by connecting their tablet or laptop to the Koombook Wi-Fi hotspot. Cristina and I brought the Koombook with us to show to the NGOs in Ecuador, which was preloaded with Khan Academy and Wikipedia in Spanish as well as several Spanish books. The Koombook contains all the Wikipedia pages until the time of the last Internet update. Thus, the hundreds of educational videos on Khan Academy as well as the thousands of Wikipedia pages are hugely beneficial for students without access to Internet connection.

Furthermore, we emphasized to the NGOs that the Koombook can be customized to include additional website pages, videos, movies, maps, or books that they would like to store on the device. The NGOs are all very excited about the technology and eager to implement it in their community centers or schools. We also took the time to find out about the NGO’s programs, communities of work, and educational needs. Moreover, we made sure to ask them what resources they would like to see on the Koombok for the teachers, students, or adults they work with. Stay tuned for my next blog post on our NGO meeting with Fundación Esquel in Cotacachi, Ecuador!