The goal of this project is to provide community members with access to resources and to promote better learning practices and improved literacy among students by establishing a functional school library through the organization and maintenance of existing and additional materials. This middle and high school currently have over 10,000 textbooks which are not being used because there is no proper space to organize them and no formal system in place for loaning them to students. This grant will provide the community with all the necessary elements of the school library project – a fresh coat of paint in the existing room designated for the library, the installation of glass doors, the construction of bookshelves, tables, and chairs, as well as some novels by African authors to augment the resources currently available. The community has been the driving force behind this project and plans to continue to participate until its completion by preparing the room and soliciting donations to make up at least 25% of the total budget. The expected impact of this project is a long-term improvement in the learning conditions of the students and a proper management system on the part of the school librarians and administrative staff to ensure that its inventory will be taken care of well into the future.
Several members of the school’s staff and students have been involved in the initial steps of this project. The principal of the high school had had a library built at the school where he had previously been the principal, so he has experience relevant to this project. He took the initiative to work with a community member on the design of the library, determining how many bookshelves, tables, and chairs would be needed and getting an estimate from a local carpenter. He identified the necessary steps that must be taken before furnishing the room: installing a drainage system on the balcony outside the room to prevent water from entering the floor of the library, installing glass doors in the room, and covering the walls in a fresh coat of paint. The principal of the middle school assembled a team of students to help the librarians categorize and take an inventory of the existing textbooks, and the advisor – who has experience in running a library – worked with the librarians to assess the school’s need for additional books. The economics teacher and several other of the school’s teachers and administrative staff members have been present at meetings related to this project and have expressed interest and willingness to help solicit donations from the community. They have already secured a significant donation from an individual community member, and they have a plan in place to raise the remainder of the 25% community contribution.
To ensure the long-term sustainability of this project, the community will form a committee composed of administrative staff members, teachers, and students who will meet regularly to monitor the library’s resources and assess its needs. The librarians will implement an extensive system in order to prevent the loss or theft of books checked out from the library - they will record the name and contact information of each student or teacher who wants to check out a book, as well as the day it must be returned. If a student or teacher fails to return a book on time, the school's administrative staff will take them out of class to return the book or face a penalty. If a student or teacher loses a book or refuses to return it, he or she will be responsible for purchasing a new copy of the book to replace it and will face administrative penalties if he or she does not comply. To prevent theft, students and teachers who use the library will be required to place their backpacks on a designated table near the librarians' office. The librarians will watch over the students and teachers to make sure no library resources get taken out of the room without authorization. The community will keep the library’s materials in excellent condition for as long as possible by properly storing and managing them and keeping meticulous records of the inventory, but in the event that the books become worn out, the community will be responsible for raising the money to replace them. The librarians and library committee will learn this skill during a training session led by myself and the advisor.