All staff and students of Kitengesa Comprehensive Secondary School are automatically members of the library. Residents of the sub-county in which the school is located can become members on payment of an annual fee of 2,000 Uganda shillings (i.e. a little less than one dollar). People from further afield may also join on payment of a fee of 3,000 Uganda shillings.
By August 2011, 1365 people had joined the library, and 650 were active members; 148 new members joined in 2011. Many new members are students who have just started at the school, but each year twenty or more people from other institutions or walks of life join the library as well. The many primary school children who come to the library are not required to join formally.
School students use the library more than any other group, but other local residents use it regularly too. This is particularly true of former students, especially those who work for Fair Trade Carbon and those who have been Library Scholars. Teachers from the neighboring primary schools also come in to prepare their lessons, and students from other schools visit frequently, especially during the school holidays. The library serves uneducated members of the community as well, for example in the Family Literacy Project.
One impressive member is Angella Namuddu, who was a cook at a neighboring primary school when she began coming to the library in 2003. She could not read at all at that point but learned to read from Dan and over 2004-5 borrowed, and read, more books than any other library user. She is now an enthusiastic member of the Family Literacy Project. A different kind of distinction was attained by Hassan Lwanga, who joined the library in 2002 and with Dan’s advice developed a taste for reading. He left Kitengesa in 2005 to study for the last two years of secondary school in Kampala; but he thought of the library when, after doing poorly in school exams on “General Paper” (essentially an essay-writing exam on general topics), he decided he needed to read more. So he arranged to borrow a book every week, and as a result, he said, “I improved my literature, that is, in writing and speech.” The outcome was dramatic: when the time came for the final national exams, in 2007, Hassan scored the highest of all the students in Kampala. Other students scored as well in their subject areas, but none did as well as Hassan in General Paper. Now he has completed his BA at Makerere University in law.
Most library users do not do as well as Angella and Hassan, but the place is always busy, and there are many people who come day after day to read the newspapers, to study, to exchange books, or simply to talk with friends. Increasingly, too, primary school students are coming, and we hope they will become the avid readers of the future.