Development in the 21st century demands access to information – farmers need to connect to new markets, entrepreneurs need to find capital to start businesses, health workers need access to research to provide up to date care to patients. What these groups have in common is a need for information and public libraries can provide the answer. Public libraries, if properly supported, offer their users access to resources which can help improve their economic and social well being.
To provide access to good books to people in the community.
• To provide a space for children to do their homework every evening.
• To assist needy children set their learning goals by themselves and reach them.
• Create a child-friendly and integrated learning environment.
The most significant challenge will be identifying the right local partner to handle the pilot operations. Working in a developing market is challenging on many levels, and finding an individual of accomplishment and integrity who is also deeply connected to the local community is critical.
We have analyzed the poor conditions of 7 existing public libraries in Berhampur region in Southern Orissa.
Visions of a Modern Model Community Library — Initial Blue-Print
(Feb 03, 2014)
Project Planning and Execution: We, as part of the Odisha Society of the Americas ( OSA), envision two libraries, selected on basis of readiness of the local community/user-group and leadership availability, to be strengthened/extended/furnished in different locations in Berhampur/Gopalpur/Chattarpur area (Phalin Affected area). These projects are to utilize the OSA donated funds to set up two model libraries of tomorrow — the public library model which can in future be replicated in all NAC areas and CD Blocks of the state. One should be a Model Urban community Library and the other a Model Rural community Library.
The success will depend on three primary legs/pillars of this “venture”:
- Resource administration and infrastructure-provider (the Govt.) or CSR Money from Industry.
- Involved beneficiary and stakeholders (the institution/library and the children/youth/seniors of the area), essentially an usergroup of service providers and service users – e.g. PTA (Parents Teachers Association)
- and Facilitating and observant civil society members serving as go-between and as monitors capable, willing and outstanding local citizens
The Model features shall include:
Vision1: Theme- Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as an enabler. The Library should recognize that they can help to create the next generation of leaders by providing training, skills and support. The library’s Internet Access and Training Program aims to develop 200 young technology pioneers (100 girls, 100 boys) at each location per year. The pioneers will have practical ICT skills and will become advocates for computer technology in their “sahi/street” or village, and mentors for others. Teach the young women who are dropouts or are at subsistence-level the skills. The library provides self-study or visitor lecture based training on confidence-building and motivation, computer and Internet training, and job-seeking skills. The service also includes a website for the unemployed, which provides opportunities for employers to advertise posts and for job applicants to download forms and apply online.
Technology: The library offers an ICT training programme for youth, to expand social, economic and educational opportunities for their future. Technology includes computers with high-speed Internet connections, and a variety of software packages. As an example, Etoys (etoysIllinois.org) is a media-rich authoring system that helps children to learn by doing. It is an interactive tool that allows children to explore their ideas by creating models, simulations, and games which they can then share with other Etoy users in real time. (Etoys is free and Open Source.) Govt. could help in procuring and providing a few OneLaptopPerChild(from OLPC org.), and SchoolMatePC (from companies like Intel), etc. Must focus on hands-on learning.
Books: Select and provide 3000 books based on the recommendations of the children’s librarians in the state (how do we get it?). Complement with e-books wherever possible.
Assuming we can get complementing support, we greatly desire and aspire for a mobile learning facility that can travel to nearby areas needing the services.
Necessary infrastructure: There should be the book-shelves//computer room as well as a multi-purpose room for reading, story-telling, science projects, arts/plays, and small public lectures.
Librarian & Care taker: The govt. or the institution housing this effort must assure one local librarian and one care-taker for at least 5 years.
Partners/Mentors: volunteer lecturers/speakers/teachers from the colleges, NGO’s, Govt. institutions and ordinary civil society come every week to teach, and drive lively, entertaining, mind-stretching discussions at the library hall.
Promotion: Use Local Radio and Print-media to spread the word and provide program schedule at the library
Volunteers: Seek out and engage volunteers, from the civil society, who will actually help run the facility with supervision/guidance from the Librarian
Linkage to local school(s): Facilitate a collaboration linkage to the school curriculum and a local school. For example students and teachers become stake-holders in the library’s success.
- Disaster Preparedness & Management learning materials for the people should be made available
- The Model Rural Library should include learning and education materials on agriculture and related businesses while an ‘urban’ library may be more diverse in nature and may have more English-language materials.
- It might be useful to support techniques to innovate/create in an internet economy in the ‘Urban’ library while the “rural library’ focuses on learning of the use of the internet tools.
- Choose the Librarian who will make discerning choices for the focus between the two models that differ only in subtle ways.
- Sources and selections of books
- To see a brief site-visit report from when we were trying to locate a site for the “model”: click here (Only for historical reference; it shows a failed attempt to find a location for the “model”).