TK Reite Notebooks Toolkit


TK Reite Notebooks is a toolkit for documenting and transmitting traditional knowledge to future generations.  At its heart is a respect for indigenous self-determination.
The toolkit combines digital technologies and paper.
It is low cost, simple to use and can be easily adapted for different communities and languages.
The toolkit was co-designed with Reite villagers in Papua New Guinea, with support from The Christensen Fund.

Versions : English | Tok Pisin | Bislama

Access all PDF Notebook templates here

The Toolkit below is divided into 3 Sections: Making; Sharing & Technical.


What you need:

    • To start you need pens, paper and scissors to make up notebooks.
    • To download and print the notebooks you will need a computer, access to the internet and a printer (refer to the Technical section for suggestions).
What to do: Why?
1. Identify the people who you will work with, and discuss the possibility of documenting Traditional Knowledge through this toolkit. Discuss what they might like to document, and what the value of recording it will be for them.
2. Make it clear that participation is voluntary, and that there are ways of restricting content built into the process. (You may use the engaged consent model developed with Reite Villagers) It is crucial that everyone involved in the process understands certain things about it, and has a chance to consider others:

a. it is wholly voluntary.
b. their reason for doing it
c. that it is unpaid, and the results will not be sold by you or anyone else
d. that there are mechanisms throughout the process to allow people to restrict the circulation of any content they choose to put into the booklets.

3. Choose from notebook templates available here, or design you own. Notebook templates have been designed in Tok Pisin and in English, of various lengths, and with different prompts and guidance. You can choose one or more of these as suitable to your requirements. Alternatively, using bookleteer, anyone can design and create their own blank notebooks in different languages, for different contexts, or with different communities.
4. Print and make up the number of notebooks that you think you will use. Depending on conditions and resources, you might choose to use a waterproof paper stock in place of standard office paper. Make sure people have enough scissors to make up the notebooks. You may have to supply these. The toolkit is based around the use of these notebooks. People use them to document anything they choose.
Waterproof paper (e.g. Aquascribe) is more durable in humid environments.
It is a very good idea to involve the participants of the process in making up the notebooks. Learning to fold notebooks engages participants and offers ownership of a key part of the process. There is also a sense of achievement in making one’s own notebooks. People who have learned to fold the notebooks can teach others, or assist in folding workshops. In a large-scale documentation process, this also means one or two people are freed from making up multiple notebooks.
5. Public meetings or private discussions with participants to discuss content and how best to utilise the notebooks for what they wish to record. This is not about restricting content but enabling people to see how they can use the notebooks for different types of content. People should choose their own content. These meetings are an opportunity for people to decide in co-operation with other people what is appropriate to record and how the process should be organised. Just as with involving people in the folding of notebooks, this process is about people taking control over their own documentation project. It is also doing things together. Whether or not people decide on a division of labour or content, or even if they choose not to share content with one another, making the process a common activity motivates people to engage and stimulates deeper consideration of the corpus and range of Traditional Knowledge. It also makes it possible to air concerns, and head off disputes over what can and can not be recorded before the notebooks are filled in.
Whatever people make with the notebooks sits within a bigger context of who they are making it for, who will see them doing it, and what they hope to achieve.
6. Personalise the notebooks.
Take a photograph of each person or group of people who will fill out a notebook. Print the photograph out and stick it on the front cover. Ask them to write their name(s) after the engaged consent statement.
The photograph serves to identify the authors, to personalise the notebooks, and gives people an extra impetus to complete them. It also makes whatever is recorded there associated with this person and therefore keeps knowledge attached to people
7. Make sure participants have writing and drawing materials. Distribute pens and pencils if necessary.
8. Ask if they wish to delete any of the lines on the engaged consent statement. The engaged consent statement is a simple mechanism to get people to think about what they record and how willing they are for it to be seen by other people. This is important for several reasons, including taking ownership of the documentation process, controlling its circulation, and considering the nature of and restrictions on certain kinds of knowledge before making it public. In order to feel confident that they will retain control over the content it is vital to remind people that they are making these notebooks for themselves and those they wish to pass things on to, and can restrict the circulation of the notebooks completely if they wish. It reminds them they are not being asked to record things for outsiders but that if they are willing, other people can be given access to their notebooks.
9. Remind people to be as full and complete in their documentation as possible. Encourage people to use all the space available, and to use drawing, images, photographs etc. as well as words. People often assume a lot of background knowledge, or take for granted that the reader already knows the content. Ask them to consider what they would like their grandchildren’s grandchildren to know if they had never been in the village/area etc.. Suggest people give enough information so that someone with no knowledge of a plant or process or story could identify it or follow it properly.
10. Suggest a time frame for the return of completed notebooks. This encourages completion. Some participants will be enthusiastic and wish to complete multiple notebooks. Others may be shy of their ability and need a prompt to complete the work.
11. Be available for and encourage that questions and concerns are brought to you while people are in the process of filling out the notebooks. Respond positively to new ideas for content, or to suggestions about what people would like to document. This means people who become confused, or lose confidence in what they are doing will not just drop out of the process.
12. Digitise the completed notebooks. First confirm consent to scan and/or share online by giving people another chance to modify the consent statements on the front of the notebooks. Unfold the booklets, scan the individual pages as either jpeg images or PDF pages. Collate all the scanned pages for each individual notebooks into a single PDF file, and give it an appropriate file name. Digitising the notebooks will allow them to be archived and shared, or printed out again if the original is lost or damaged.
13. Put the notebooks back together and return it to its author. Immediately returning the notebooks is an important way to keep the documentation with participants, and can be reassuring for them.


14. Share files via removable media. Copy files to USB flash drives of people involved in the project. Alternatively, each scanned notebook should be small enough to email.

15. For those with sustained access to the internet, we recommend building a simple website which can act as archive of uploaded PDFs of the notebooks. Visit the online library website created for Reite village for inspiration and ideas.

16. Print out copies of the notebooks, fold and make them up for the establishment of a library of physical copies of the notebooks. This might be hosted by a local school, community centre or government institution.


The project only uses freely available digital and analogue technologies. The most basic tools required are pens, paper and scissors, with various digital technologies adding increased capabilities at different levels :

  • Pens (biro/ballpoint or Sharpie)
  • Scissors
  • Printer (A4 inkjet or laser)
  • Scanner
  • Computer (desktop or laptop; Windows, MacOS or Linux etc)
  • Internet access
  • Digital camera/mobile phone camera
  • Pocket Photo Printer
  • USB flash drive

Creating New Notebooks
New notebooks can be created just using pens and blank paper – we are devising a set of instructions to explain how to do this and will post them shortly.
For printed notebooks a standard computer (desktop or laptop; Windows, MacOS or Linux etc) with internet access is needed. Basic page layout software (e.g. Microsoft Word or Open/LibreOffice Writer) is used to create the notebook’s “source content” file. This is saved/exported as a PDF and uploaded to (the free online self-publishing platform created and maintained by Proboscis) which will generate the correctly formatted PDF file of the downloadable notebook. This can be viewed online or downloaded for printing and making up.

Making Up Notebooks
A standard inkjet or laser printer is needed to print out the PDF files. The folding and cutting of the sheets to make up the notebook then only requires a pair of scissors. Watch our videos of how to fold and make up the books.

Paper Stock
In the tropical climate of Papua New Guinea we used both standard office paper and Aquascribe a Tyvek-type waterproof paper to print out and make up the notebooks. Similar waterproof papers, although more expensive, are widely available and have the advantage of being more resilient in damp and humid conditions. Should they become dirty they can be easily cleaned without erasing the print or ink contents. Ordinary office paper can quickly become fibrous and disintegrate, although it can also be used effectively even in humid environments.

Adding Images
Images can be added to printed out notebooks in several ways: by printing digital images on standard paper, cutting them out and gluing them in; or by using a special photo printer – such as the Polaroid Zip (formerly PoGo) or LG Pocket Photo printer to print out business card size pictures (with sticky backs) direct from digital cameras or smartphones.

Scanning & Printing
Once unfolded, the individual sheets of a notebook can be easily scanned on any flatbed or portable scanner and saved together as a PDF file. This can then be reprinted as a direct facsimile of the original hand-written notebook on any standard inkjet or laser printer. For scanning we used a USB-powered Epson DS-30 portable scanner which connects directly to a laptop. Alternatively, use the camera on a modern smartphone with a scanning app and a simple stand – e.g. the Modahaus Steady Stand Kit. For printing we used a battery-powered Canon Pixma iP110 portable inkjet printer, but any will do.

Sharing & Distribution
Internet access is required to share the scanned notebooks online. We recommend choosing a free blogging platform such as (c.f. Reite village online library) to upload and post information about the notebooks as a way of creating an online, searchable library or archive. You may wish to store files online using cloud storage services such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

Another simple sharing method is to copy PDF files of scanned notebooks onto cheap USB flash drives which can typically store thousands of files.

Power & Light
Cameras, laptops, smartphones, printers and scanners will all need a supply of electricity. When grid-based power is not available portable solutions and battery backups are crucial. In PNG we used a Goal Zero Yeti 150 solar generator with a Nomad 200 Solar Panel to power laptops, printer etc. We also used a Power Traveller Solar Monkey battery & charger to recharge cameras and phones, along with an Anker Astro E7 25600mAh External Battery for USB-powered devices.

We tested a range of solar lights in the village and recommend these : Sun King Pro All Night (via SolarAid in the UK) and the Nokero N182 Solar Light Bulb.

The toolkit is licensed under Creative Commons.
Creative Commons Licence