How does one curate a collection of narratives that speak to and for the marginalized? Children need a collection of stories that will help them identify their community narratives and tales in the words and pictures of a story book. Here is a glimpse into how this can be done.
Divya Jyoti Tirkey and Mamura Khan
Gone are the days when a library was seen as a space in a room or in a building where books were kept locked in cupboards with access to only members. Now libraries are places where more children visit, activities happen around and beyond books and all have access and read for joy. The jhola library is about all this and more, the first step being to build a culture of inclusion where everyone had access to books.
Have you heard of a library that is meant for children in a hospital? Children in this hospital are encouraged to borrow books at any time, read and return. Both in-patients and out-patients too have access to the books and even toys. What a nice way to cheer up children!
What does literacy mean beyond the mechanics of mastering speed or accuracy in reading and writing? When children read and are able to make connections, find joy and seek knowledge and information about themselves and others, then they are truly on the path of literacy and are able to discover worlds beyond their textbooks. A library then becomes a space for them to enjoy reading on their own terms and make their own choices on the books that they would like to read.
Libraries in most rural areas find very few takers because of a host of issues. From the location to the functioning hours to even gender biases, community libraries face a resource crunch as well as a poor collection of books. If libraries have to play a larger role in transforming individuals, communities and societies, then public libraries need to be made more functional.
How can the library be an agent of the arts in education? Since art has an inherent ability to engage with our senses, create resonance and provoke reflection, it can help in critical thinking and lead to a sense of appreciation of art. Displaying art on the library walls, organizing activities, bringing in artists to engage with members – these are some ways in which the idea of art in libraries can be supported.
Here is an interesting account of how library activities were conducted for children from a government primary school. These activities and projects flourished even during the pandemic. Read on to know more.
This is a story of how Kitaab Mahal came into being in a colony in Mumbai. This resettlement colony was built to house thousands of slum dwellers who were displaced. In the age of all things digital, the children in this colony warmed up to the idea of being surrounded by books and friends where they could interact with each other and also learn something new.
At the Delhi-based free library which is part of the Community Library Project, all are welcome. Over here, art is an invitation to touch, hear, feel and speak. All are welcome to create not for any narrow markets but for their own to enjoy. Read all about this wonderful space.
Here is a very engaging article about how a physical library transitioned to the online mode during the pandemic, how the children learned to adopt and adapt to online platforms, and their resilience which helped them spread their wings.