A public library is a necessary component of any society. Libraries provide communities with knowledge and information at no cost for research, education, and enlightenment. Because of this, the need for libraries has grown significantly over the past few years. In Ethiopia, where slightly less than half of the population lacks literacy, public libraries are even more essential. Fortunately, the Ethiopian government, initiated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, has recently built a grand public library intending to support Ethiopian literacy. Thanks to the Prime minister and his government, Ethiopia now boasts the largest public library in East Africa, the Abrehot Library.
Abrehot library (አብርሆት ቤተ-መጽሐፍት) has the most extensive library in the country. Dr. Abiy Ahmed initiated the project, and it took eighteen months and a budget of 1.15 billion Ethiopian birr for completion. It is open to the public and is under the administration of Addis Ababa University (AAU). Besides the extensive library, Abrehot has a recreational area, playground, amphitheaters, eight bookstores, and a cafeteria. Currently working hour of abrehot library is 2:00AM to 6PM, Monday to saturday.
“Knowledge is a tool that frees from the bondage of Ignorance.”Dr. Abiy Ahmed at the inauguration of Abrehot Library on January 1, 2022
Abrehot library (አብርሆት ቤተ-መጽሐፍት) is one of the top ten libraries in Africa. It is located in Arat Kilo, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in front of the parliament building on Niger Street. It is built on 38,687-meter squares of land. The name “Abrehot” is an Amharic word that means enlightenment.
Abrehot Grand library is a facility constructed by Addis Ababa City Administration. The plan for the construction of the library was first unveiled by the City’s Administration in 2019. The library was officially opened to the public, on January 1st, 2022, in a ceremony that was attended by high government officials, including Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Birhanu Nega, and Adanech Abiebie.
The opening of Abrehot Public Library will have a significant role to avail diversified collections of books and/or other print or nonprint materials which are organized and maintained for use. Moreover, the fascination of the Abrehot Public Library is that it can provide easy access for all users to a variety of digital reading materials by establishing facilities for both on-site and off-site e-library services. In doing so, it builds a successful reading culture throughout Ethiopia
Facility and Design of Abrehot Library
Abrehot Library is designed by ZIAS Design International PLC, with Geometra Luigi Varnero Impresa Costruzioni PLC as General Contractor, and Coord Consulting as the project manager. The Abrehot Library was built over nearly two years and introduces an extremely cutting-edge contemporary design with greater attention given to the Ethiopian architectural context. The interior design of Abrehot Library is incredibly appealing and artistically pleasant, which will help the library draw in readers. As a result, upon entering the building, the user’s mood for reading is immediately stimulated by the vivacious and calm atmosphere.
One of the things contributing to Abrehot’s architecture is the sculpture of a child lying on his back while playing with a hollow sphere. A renowned painter and sculptor, assistant professor Bekele Mekonnen designed it. He states the meaning of the sculpture as follows:
“I chose a child because they are innocent and critical. They question things with no limit. Due to that, they are carefree and pose as they like. They can see the world from a lot of perspectives. The world is represented by numbers, Amharic, and Latin alphabets. It has air circulation so we can feel at ease and entertain. The child is sleeping on a book, which is already existing knowledge that does not rule the child. The underlying rock is not altered much from its natural state. We have put a lot of work into it.”Assistant professor Bekele Mekonnen
The library building is rectangular on the outside and has a veranda with seven poles. On these poles are words written in eighteen languages believed to have their alphabet. Amharic is represented by tibeb (“ጥበብ”), which translates to wisdom.
The interior of the building has four circular floors and a small garden at the center. It has stairs and three elevators.
Basement (Parking, offices, special collections)
The basement has unique reading rooms for books that require special attention, including those written on leather “ብራና”. These rooms are only allowed for certain people with permission.
The basement also has a security control room, database, stores, high standard staff kitchen and dining area, and parking. The parking is suitable for the differently-abled and has space enough for 115 cars.
Ground floor (Reception, children’s library, periodicals)
It has a reception, a comfy waiting area, Kids Zone, a reference room, and an associated reading area. Encyclopedias, world atlases, newspapers, and periodicals here. There is also a children’s library so parents can tutor their children and keep an eye on them while reading. It has spelling kits, puzzles, and different stationery materials other than books. In addition, it has a separate room for when they throw a tantrum and need to change their clothes. It also has a space meant for nursing.
Workstations and reading hall
Reading hall and business hub
Braille hall and reading hall; Audio-visual room
Meeting rooms, reading hall, library administration
The meeting room is multipurpose and can accommodate 120 people. It can be sectioned into three rooms of 40 chairs and has a corridor for tea breaks.
These areas are for people who want to wait until the other spaces are free. You can find it on all floors.
You can see the design better in the next video.
Books in Abrehot library (አብርሆት ቤተ-መጽሐፍት)
Abrehot Library has a 1.5-kilometer shelf and can accommodate 1.4 million books. The books in the library are collected from various book donations. The library’s administration, with the collaboration of the Prime Minister’s Office, has established a committee for creating campaigns and facilitating donations. So far, the committee has initiated a nationwide book donation campaign, encouraging citizens to donate books. From April through July 2022, the Abrehot Library hosted a book donation program with the slogan “Millions of Books for the Millennium Generation.” As a result of this campaign, the Abrehot Library saw a huge influx of books donated by the public. It is said that the campaign was an overwhelming success, with around 369 thousand books collected from 77 government and public institutions and individuals on just the first round of the program. The books collected in the program cover a range of topics and provide valuable resources for the country’s youth. BookAid International, the Ethiopian ministry of education, AAU, the culture and tourism bureau, the Addis Ababa municipality, the office of the Prime Minister, and Ethiopia Reads are among the institutions and organizations that contributed to the campaign. The goal of the library is to have 1.4 million books, and additions are still being made today. All are welcome to donate and be part of enlightening generations.
Abrehot Library Membership Steps and Benefits
The launch of a membership program has been announced by the Abrehot Library. Starting from December 10, 2022, memberships have already begun to be accepted. The membership program is said to give users a very contemporary and convenient way to access the library, with lots of advantages.
There is an annual fee of 300 birr to join the Abrehot Library. A variety of payment methods will be used for the online transaction. The first option for payment is through bank transfer using the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia. You can transfer the fee to the bank using the account number: 1000482441727. Telebirr is also going to be available soon as a payment method, allowing customers to conveniently transfer the fee from their mobile phones. Then, you need to confirm your membership after paying by sending a picture of the receipt. After confirmation, the library will approve your account. When becoming a member, users are entitled to the following benefits:
- 30% discount on Tomoca hot drinks.
- Can borrow books freely.
- Fully Funded Scholarship for 12 students depending on Abrehot qualification.
- Can get group discussion rooms online unconditionally.
- Can easily access 1.5 million e-books and journals.
What Makes Abrehot Library Great?
- Has capacity for 1.4 million hard copy books.
- 15 terabyte database for e-library (about 1 to 2 million e-books)
- Free Wi-Fi
- You can bring your own PC.
- It can accommodate 2,500 people at a time.
- It has a group study area for researchers
- Waiting area and WC on all floors
- Easily accessible electric sockets on the tables
- It has a soundproofed break-out area.
- It has a collection of brail books for visually impaired people.
- It has a modern cafeteria and conference room.
- It has a place for parents to read with their children.
- It has children’s reading and playing areas.
- It has eight bookstores and an amphitheater.
Abrehot is a place where recreation meets the library. It has exquisite design and the capacity for a large number of books. It is where we can find our history and help our children develop the habit of reading. These features make Abrehot something beyond a library; it is one of the top places to visit in Addis Ababa. Please keep the facility clean and behave appropriately. You are under surveillance of security cameras.
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