A desperate call for support

The government wants to restore the library at Mt. Kenya University to its former glory, but first the two women who are leading the charge need to figure out just how to pay for it. Linda Botha and Jane Gathima studied library sciences at the University of Nairobi, but they’re not working at the museum. They don’t even hold advanced degrees; neither Ms. Botha nor Ms. Gathima, who work in advertising and fundraising, respectively, holds a degree in library or information sciences.

One day last fall, they decided they needed to take a closer look at the problems plaguing the university’s library, which had suffered an estimated $70,000 in damage since 2002, mostly to insect infestation and deterioration of the walls. That would be about $600 per square foot. “Now think about that,” Botha says. “That’s not what we did, but how can we ignore what’s there?”

The women are determined not to let the library die, even if they don’t have the resources. Earlier this month, they submitted a proposal to the federal government requesting $300,000 to restore it to its former splendor. What if they failed? “We’d just let it decay,” says Botha.

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