Library Initiatives

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Changes After the librarians’ workshop!

Our reading corner…..

They can take reading cushion where ever they like in the library……

This month children are going to help us in decorating their reading corner….

One girl artist from class VIII has some nice ideas and she wants to paint the walls with fabric colours…!

We discussed with our children and they came up with lots of interesting ideas.

I’ll do the same with every class this week and decide……..

We also have a shelve where anyone can recommend books they have read and liked. These books will be displayed there….

Usha Mukunda

Two library projects close to my heart

1. Under the aegis of Sir Ratan Tata Trust, I have been interacting with the Kalike group in Yadgir, Karnataka. One of their thrusts is to strengthen and enhance library use and reading, in the 50 schools they work with. In this connection, they have appointed library animators at each of these schools. The decision also was to focus on a smaller number of schools to start with. I have been to Yadgir twice to do interactive workshops and this year, I saw a definite surge in the interest, capacity and enthusiasm of the library animators I had interacted with last year.

2. The second project is an interaction with the Department of Education, Tibetan Govt. in Exile at Dharamshala. Under this project, I visited 9 Tibetan school libraries in October 2013 in and around Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. After this I submitted a detailed report of my findings. As a result of these findings, a further interaction happened when Sujata Noronha and I met with 30 school librarians from the Tibetan schools at the World Book Fair in February 2014. It was a first exposure for most of them to a book fair of this dimension and thanks to Mr. Rubin (Of NBT) and his welcoming hospitality they all had a very good interaction with books, writers, publishers and others.

Following this Sujata and I completed a three day workshop for the librarians at Dharamshala in April 2014. Their response and enthusiasm was heartwarming and a google group has been set up for frequent communication and chat between us all.

Usha Mukunda.                              May 2014.

If Kausani can have a library can Varadenahalli be far behind?

About 40 kms from Bangalore city under the benevolent shadow of the Savandurga monolithic rock hill, lies a small village called Varadenahalli. To some of us, it has come to be home because our school, CFL has spread its roots in the welcoming soil of this village.

For some years now, the children of the Government school there have had energetic interactions with the school, both in academic subjects and in other ways. Teachers and students have interacted with the children formally in the school setting and informally on walks where they constantly hear childish voices call out, “Kallaje navare,tata.” More recently the teachers have also begun a womens outreach where they meet the women of the village once a month and talk and learn from each other.

Leela and I, having been with the school for many years, were wondering if we could actually start a small library for the village. But where could it be housed and who would run it? Both questions were answered in such simple ways that we could not help feeling like Shakespeare, that there is a divinity that shapes our ends! On a walk, we spotted the abandoned but standing room where the Anganwadi was. It was now used we were told for Bhajanes and for Ganesh Habba. In other words it was a public space! Check one. At the monthly meeting with women, two teenage girls expressed their keenness to run the library. Check two and we were off!

So we bought the books, a kindly soul made two wonderful shelves himself, other friends jumped in to paint the walls and windows, and the library was poised to GO! We took the books into the space and like a magnet,apart from the two girls, three other teenage boys also came in and within minutes they had grasped the system of stamping, numbering, accessing and sorting the books  into categories! A handful of younger children were made to stamp. The stamp may have smudged but their joy was unsullied!

On Thursday Oct. 11th, the library ‘opened’ with the name they chose, “Jnana Gange Granthalaya.” Eager younger children who came in early sat down to make posters for the place. Leela told them all a story and also a few guidelines for using the library.

But one could see the children’s impatience to handle the books! A  steady stream of children followed by teenagers and finally by some young mothers  came in. They browsed, sat, read and  went off happily clutching their books, promising to take good care and return them. The youngsters from the village were totally in charge. I heard just  now that the enthusiasm is undiminished. What we need are more books for older children and for the adult women.

Any ideas anyone for small funds?

Usha Mukunda

October 13th 2012.

Miracles do happen!

June 15th 2012.

Kausani, In the Kumaon Himalayas in Uttarakhand, is a small hill station. It is mainly known because Gandhiji  once spent a few weeks there and was delighted with the scenery and ambience. There is now a Gandhi Ashram there as well as a Lakshmi Ashram, a residential school for girls. There are also a few schools which the numerous children of the town attend. I spent two months there in September and October 2011 and discovered that there was no good library or book store anywhere in the vicinity. Kausani functions mainly as a tourist resort with a number of hotels but there are enough local residents with growing families who have no easy access to any reading material.

During my stay there, I befriended quite a few children who would come to me and my friends for English lessons, Maths classes and generally to listen to stories. So the thought came to me that here is a place sorely in need of a children’s library. Soon after my return to Bangalore, I happened to meet Ms. Meera, Librarian of Raman Research Institute and a serendipitous result was the possibility of getting a book donation from them. However since the grant is very generous, I felt that a few more learning centres could benefit and I therefore asked my contacts to send me names of groups who are working hard to educate and enrich the lives of those children who need it. At Kausani, we have located a space, part of the Hum Joli outlet, which will partner us in this venture. Again with the serendipitous presence of a young librarian in the vicinity who was game, we arranged for him to orient and enrich Ms. Hema’s natural flair to be a librarian for children.

The happy ending or beginning(!) is that on may 20th, the library was inaugurated with 25 children present. They sang songs and were treated to a short talk on ways to help them be responsible for the good running of the library. In November, I plan to visit and do a few activities to nurture the use of the library.

If this story inspires others to make the plunge to start a library wherever they see a need, I am content!

Usha Mukunda