Degale Community Library

Name of Project: Degale Public Library and Computer Center

2014 – present


In the center of the market square in Mudula stands a majestic 600-year-old fig tree, affectionately called Degale by the local people. The tree has been a source of wisdom, community gathering, and spiritual guidance for generations, with local decisions and negotiations almost always made under this tree. Named in honor of the old fig tree, the Degale Public Library is a place of knowledge, learning and growth.

This library began as a dream among some of the first graduates of the first high school in Mudula Town, Tembaro Woreda. As these students furthered their education at university, they realized a library with study resources and space in Mudula would enable other students in their community to pursue higher education. In turn, they decided to join efforts to construct a library in Tembaro. They met with local government leaders, had land donated for the project, drafted a building design and began collecting book donations. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, they were unable to proceed further with their vision.

In 2012, Liz McGovern, founder of WEEMA International, met with Habtamu Lamore, one of these students and learned of their dream for a public library. In close partnership, this dream became a reality.

Community Involvement: The library project was initiated by Mudula high school graduates and land was donated by the government. Local labor was hired to construct the building. The community celebrated Degale Public Library’s inauguration on April 1, 2015. WEEMA actively responds to feedback and continues to grow its services. Future programs include mobile educational activities for young children.


  • Build the first public library in Tembaro (district population over 100,000)
  • Establish computer center with free internet access. Note: Internet access is rare in Ethiopia- only 2% penetration as of 2014
  • Furnish a large, comfortable study space


  • Constructed four-room public library and computer room and supplied all essential books, computers and internet
  • Provided 27 high quality, power-efficient computers and age-adjusted computer literacy programs. The computer room is supplied with broadband internet- making it the first public center having internet in Tembaro.
  • Increased access to educational resources, including study guides and internet, for Tembaro residents.
  • Created learning opportunities between Degale library staff, Addis Ababa librarians and university library science students.
  • Established separate reading space for youngest children.
  • Celebrated grand opening in April 2015 complete with ribbon cutting, tour, speeches, traditional song and dance.


  • Within the first 15 weeks of operation alone, the Library recorded 6,329 people visiting and accessing the books in the reading room and 3,428 people visiting and accessing the computer center.
  • When one of the secondary students was asked to write what he liked about the library and computer center, he commented, “to read books and to be global like this.”