Primary School Library

  • Education
  • Community Growth
  • Youth
  • South Africa
This project is led by Juhi Desai, a Volunteer from Massachusetts

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One of the greatest gifts that a person can pass onto a child is a love of reading. Through books, children are able to expand their world, immersing themselves in characters and settings that they may not have had the opportunity to experience before. Studies have shown that children who have fostered a love of reading are more empathetic, creative, and academically successful. As such, I want to introduce a library to my rural community. Currently, this community holds a resource center that has a few books but is largely inaccessible to learners. This money will help refurbish an abandoned motor home on my school property into a functional and accessible library. We’re looking to fill it with books, learning aids, and eventually, technology. The library will provide direct access to English learning aids to around 500 students. It will primarily be targeted towards Grades 4-7, which currently hosts around 240 learners. We will begin to fill the library with books that are already at my school, being unused right now. With these initial books, learners will be trained how to use and handle books with respect and care. Educators will also be trained in how to organize and sustain a library. The library will help provide a space for remedial learners, book clubs and for those who just want a quiet and homey space to get lost in a book. Once our learners and educators have become proficient in helping to run the library, I hope to open it up to community members as well.

After working closely with my school and interviewing different educators and learners, it has become clear that the biggest project that my school would like and would benefit from is a library. This is the first aspect of community involvement, as I am certain that this is a project that my school wants. My school helped me to first identify a potential space for where the library could be built, which was the motor home on our property. After we identified this space, my principal took the steps of getting community members involved to help clean it out. With their help, we were able to clear out hundreds of broken desks, wood pieces, chairs and just general garbage to see what we would be working with. Additionally, our teachers have formed a library committee which has put a few teachers in charge of the overall project. Other educators that are not involved in the committee have taken steps to introduce more fictional books and stories into their classroom, as a way to get learners excited about reading. This term, we are starting up an afterschool book club to also continue to create a culture of reading in the school. I’m hoping that in the coming months, we will add parents and other community members to the library committee, to further solidify community involvement and excitement for this project. As well as the above players I have mentioned, my counterpart has worked with me to help create this library. She was directly involved in writing this grant, and we worked closely together to think about the goals of this project. Additionally, she came with me to town and helped speak to shop keepers with me to get the prices of different materials and items that will be used in the library.

As mentioned, we have created a library committee which has made community members the main stakeholders of this project. My counterpart will be trained in library management by me. After she has absorbed the necessary skills, she will be taking over this project and training by holding her own training sessions with the rest of staff. She will be responsible for for training at least other member of the library committee as a librarian so that the library will have a head in charge after my departure. Additionally, we’re going to train every teacher in the basics of checking in and checking out books, as well as the cataloging system. This will allow teachers to continue operating the library in a successful way. Additionally, the skills that educators learn will be passed down to learners. This will create a culture at my school where reading and research are of the utmost importance. This will allow for the library to sustain itself as the learners and educators get more and more invested in the building. My counterpart will provide these trainings for other teachers by using her class as a model, and showing other teachers what types of activities can take place in the library. After the initial material support has ended, we will try to set aside a portion of the school budget for library maintenance. The principal and librarian will be responsible for performing monthly checks on the library and keeping track of anything that is deteriorating. If things need to be replaced, they will be replaced with the school budget for the library and allow for the library to always be in pristine condition. Additionally, I will be sharing organizations with my school that are willing to donate books and other materials. My hope is that once the school is aware of these organizations and how to reach out to them, they can continue to secure their own donations that will help the library thrive.

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