IBBY-Yamada 2008: India

Creating children's libraries

The encouraging feedback from the two AWIC/IBBY Children’s Libraries, one in Tezu, (Arunachal Pradesh) and the other in Mandi Village (NCR), has motivated many organizations to launch AWIC Children’s Libraries in remote areas where there are no books.  After considering the cooperation from supporting agencies and the needs of these areas, IBBY India decided to take up the case of two libraries; one in Jaipur (Rajasthan), which cater to economically and physically disadvantaged children from 10-15 villages on the periphery of the city. The other one was in the port town of Daman (Gujarat), which mainly caters to tribal children and the children of fisherfolk who do not have any access to reading material. In both these places the State units of National Bal Bhavan provided infrastructural support. They also help in running the libraries. 

The Association of Writers and Illustrators for Children AWIC planned to establish two children's libraries in areas where there were non.

The first area to be identified was in a remote part of Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India, where the town of Tezu was chosen. The town lies in a remote area 250km away from the nearest railway station or airport, giving the leaders of the project Ms Surekha Panandiker and Ms Indira Bagchi a long and arduous journey over rivers and ravines. 

The children were excited by the visitors and were keen to read, although they had no access to books. The teachers and social workers from local NGOs were keen for AWIC to set up a library and were ready to organize book-related activities. The District Administration also assured their cooperation.The team conducted a one-day workshop for teachers and librarians, demonstrating how to select, classify and display books. They included how to entertain the children and encourage reading by showing the participants how to improve the quality of education by including library books in their lessons. Human values and ethics also played part in the workshop and how to use books to instil values. They emphasised the three Es of library books: entertainment, education and ethics. 

 The books were collected from Delhi by the then Education Minister of Arunchal Pradesh, Mr Chowna Mein. The formal event was organized by AWIC on 24 March 2007 when the library was handed over to Mr Mein and Mr Satyanarayan Mandyoor of the Vivekananda Trust. The Trust will continue to maintain the library once established in Tezu. The project leaders were confident that the success of the library will motivate more rural communities in the remote areas of Arunchal Pradesh to establish libraries. The Tezu library was inaugurated on 19 May 2007.

The second place to be identified lies in the outskirts of Delhi. Though there are primary schools there are no children's libraries attached to them. The children are taught to read and write from textbooks, but there are no storybooks available. 

The National Bal Bhavan offered their venue at Jawahar Bal Bhavan in Mandi village to AWIC for the establishment of the library and assured the project leaders that children from the surrounding villages would have free access to the library. After a storytelling session at the venue, the children were very keen to have their own library! 

Following this decision, the director of Jawahar Bal Bhavan Mr Bisht, organized an orientation programme for the teachers and volunteers interested in promoting reading and the use of the library.

Surekha Panandiker and Indira Bagchi conducted a day's programme for the organizers, training them in selection, classification and display of books. They also showed how to organized book-related events for the children. 

Over the next four months the project leaders, together with a team of volunteers, selected, evaluated and procured books for both libraries. 

The Mandi library was formally inaugurated on 19 April 2007 by Ms Begum Bilkiz Latif, chair of the National Bal Bhavan. Her encouraging and appreciative words, as well as the enthusiastic response of the children gave great satisfaction to the AWIC team who had worked so hard.