The Library for Young Girls’ and Youth Empowerment project seeks to build and stock a library to provide the students of a secondary school in Benin the opportunity to read and learn outside of class. This project is important for girls as less than one percent of female students in the community have the necessary textbooks for their classes and the library will provide them with access to textbooks and other vital resources to aid their education. As girls are tasked with household chores at home and are unable to find quiet places to study, this library will provide them with an environment conducive to learning. Not only will girls have a safe space to study and interact with literature, they will also be able to learn basic computer skills with other youth on computers provided by the project. This will prepare both girls and boys for future careers and education in the modern world. To empower the young girls and youth of the community as much as possible, two female students and two male students will be chosen to be trained as librarians giving them confidence, marketable skills, and work experience. In exchange for their work as librarians, they will be given a scholarship to ease the heavy burden of tuition and school related fees. As girls do not receive as much educational support from their parents as boys, this library will be essential to increasing the resources available to them thus ensuring more girls stay in school.
After the library is constructed and the student librarians have been trained, the desired outcome is that of a fully functioning library that can serve as both a resource and a safe space for students and community members of all genders and ages. The finished library is expected to house multiple copies of each required textbook as well as recreational reading books for students who wish to take their learning a step further. This access to books will improve students’ performance in school. It is hoped that the student librarians will be able to supervise the use of the library while also having time to study their lessons in a space built for focus and scholarly activities. Additionally, it is hoped that this library will improve computer literacy among students and community members. Finally, it is desired that the library will start and maintain a discourse on the importance of girls’ education and gender equity.
The volunteer felt it necessary to develop a project plan that would prevent this common occurrence and make the Library for Young Girls’ and Youth Empowerment a sustainable and enduring resource in the community. Thus, the idea of student librarians was born. Together with the school administration, the volunteer will implement the selection and librarian training of two female students and two male students. These students will be given scholarships in return for their work in keeping the library open and working. The volunteer will work with the school administration to ensure this training program continues in subsequent years. Additionally, the school administration and community members will be signing a contract to ensure they will do everything within their power to make the library a resource available to every student as long as they have the ability to do so. To conclude, the school administration has also offered to set aside a portion of their budget each year to buy new books and materials for the library. In these ways, the library will be a sustainable resource for years to come.