How Book Bunk is Restoring Public Libraries Across Nairobi | Urban Limitrophe Podcast

In this episode, my co-host Jane O'Brien Davis and I chat with Marion Anvango at Book Bunk. Book Bunk is "working to restore some of Nairobi's most iconic public libraries into sites of heritage, public art, collective memory, knowledge production, shared experiences, cultural leadership and information exchange." During our discussion, we explore the diverse series of programming that they offer in their public library branches. We also chat about Book Bunk's approach to restoring libraries to make them more inclusive and accessible and cultivate a sense of belonging for the local community. 

In this episode, you'll learn about:

  • how they involve the community in the restoration of public libraries,
  • their experiential, digital, architectural, and social approach to restoring public libraries,
  • their efforts to make library services more accessible for those living with disabilities,
  • why public libraries are so important for cities to have,
  • and much more!

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Guest: Marion Anvango, Book Bunk

Marion Anvango is a literature enthusiast. She works at Book Bunk as the Acquisitions Liaison, in charge of curating and managing collections at the libraries. 

Co-Host: Jane O'Brien Davis

Jane is a MScPl student in the Department of Geography and Planning. Her interests lie in heritage planning, cultural planning, and public histories. Jane’s research looks at counter-monuments and alternative commemorations of space and place. She is interested in how grassroots organizing in Canadian cities engages with built heritage in a settler colonial context.


  • 01:46 | An introduction to Jane
  • 05:22 | An introduction to Marion and Book Bunk
  • 07:45 | What is the Book Bunk and how did it get started?
  • 10:41 | We read that your approach to public library restoration is “experiential, social, digital, and architectural”. Can you walk us through the restoration process from these different lenses? 
  • 14:35 | Given Kenya’s colonial legacy, what is Book Bunk doing to promote traditional Kenyan culture in these spaces?
  • 21:28 | How does Book Bunk involve the community in the physical restoration of the public libraries?
  • 23:45 | Can you explain some of the programming that Book Bunk has? 
  • 29:28 | Can you share with us who is the target audience of Hepa Jam because its activities target so many people?
  • 28:01 | Can you paint us a picture of what the public space landscape looks like Nairobi?
  • 30:17 | Why public libraries are so important to cities?
  • 32:50 |What support or partnerships do you think municipalities can provide to help the maintenance and expansion of your programming and services? 
  • 34:50 | What’s next for Book Bunk?
  • 38:27 | How can people get involved or support Book Bunk?

Show Notes



This episode is co-sponsored by the University of Toronto School of Cities and the Department of Geography and Planning. 

The School of Cities "convenes urban-focused researchers, educators, students, practitioners and the general public to explore and address complex urban challenges, with the aim of making cities and urban regions more sustainable, prosperous, inclusive and just". To learn more about the School of Cities visit

To learn more about the Department of Geography and Planning and the different undergraduate and graduate programs available please visit

  • Music Producer: Imany Lambropoulos
  • Podcast Host and Graphic Designer: Alexandra Lambropoulos

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