The Umutesi Open Library was born as a labor of love.
Our founder, while chatting with a fellow book-loving friend over tea learnt that the friend had recently resolved not to own a book.
She recounted that this realization hit her during an airport experience where she didn’t have money to pay for extra luggage, so she chose books over everything else and emptied her clothes and shoes into the nearest dustbin.
In a capitalist world that encourages high consumerism and attaches value to certain goods that often represent a certain class, knowledge accumulation isn’t any different.
The hoarding of books for her meant she attached personal value to each as opposed to donating them to a second-hand bookstore or a community library where they can be shared with a larger community.
According to her, the very idea of amassing books was largely participating in a capitalist culture of big publication houses and institutions who use paywalls to limit access – a culture she no longer wanted to be a part of.
Our founder was struck by this conversation. Reflecting on the many books collecting dust on her bookshelves, some read, others unread, she decided to join the movement and share her small library with the hope that we can sign on with other people who may think alike but haven’t had the platform to do so.
We would like to start a community with others. Host peoples’ personal collections, organize book-chats, and review our favorite books. We believe that books contain life and the knowledge they possess should not be handled as ornaments.
Sharing them keeps the knowledge alive and living, moving from one hand to another, leaving behind a mark, a memory, maybe even a letter. By this, we create a community within our spaces; the possibilities of which are endless. We hope that you can join us.