Libraries can help uplift reading, comprehension, and knowledge. What if we could bring a community library to a remote village, which even lacks quality schools. Imagine, the impact that a community library would have in such a place. Imagine, inquisitive minds in a remote village having a place where they can read great authors, and partake in focused learning exercises.
With this aim and objective, a group of law students lead by Jatin Lalit and comprising of students and graduates of Ram Manohar Lohiya National University, Gujarat National Law University, and Galgotia University along with alumni of National Law School, Bangalore, practitioners, and advocates have come together to set up a library and resource centers across Uttar Pradesh.
Jatin Lalit has volunteered with 'The Community Library Project', Delhi for over 3 years, which aims to encourage reading among children, as well as the habit of questioning what they read. Based on this insight and experience in setting up of libraries, Jatin has been successful in bringing together groups of lawyers, academicians, philanthropists in establishing and running a community library in Cheruia village, district Balia, Uttar Pradesh.
For our latest community project, Jatin has focused on setting up a library, in his native District of Hardoi in Uttar Pradesh. Currently, there is no community library in the entire Hardoi District. The aim is to establish a Community Library and Resource Center in Bansa. Bansa is the largest village of the Mallawan Block of the Hardoi District of Uttar Pradesh. As per the 2011, census Bansa has a population of 3256 out of which more then 50% of the population is comprised of daily wage labourers, with a literacy rate is just around 45%. A community library in Bansa, would be extremely useful in providing a place of knowledge gathering, and imbibing a culture to read. The Bansa Community Library and Resource Centre, will directly benefit 7,000 readers and learners from different age groups from 11 nearby villages.The vision is to operate the library as a learning centre for the community that thrives on volunteer teaching (both physical and distance) and lifelong learning. In furtherance of this, we are designing programs that would allow learners to gain useful knowledge and skills. Through a back-end team consisting of college students, educationalists and lawyers – working remotely – we are also striving for the socio-legal empowerment of the community through awareness and education.
So far, we have procured 300 books and received 160 books through donations. We aim to create a repository of 5000 books covering school curricula, reference material for competitive exams, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics and various other interesting and informative genres – in both Hindi and English. We also wish to get subscriptions of local and national newspapers and educational periodicals to create a culture of reading within the community. In order to look after the day-to-day affairs of the library and the other activities envisaged, we wish to employ a librarian from the community.We will also set up a Student Council, made up of committed members of the Library who are the leaders and advocates of the library movement. The Student Council will be responsible for the circulation program, for doing read aloud, for creating and implementing programs with the help of staff and volunteers.This is a work-in-progress blueprint for the activities of the library:
- Conduct interactive sessions with kids (till 8th grade) focusing on improving basic literacy, better grasp on numbers and building strong reading habits.
- Conduct weekly interactions on Social Emotional Learning.
- For 8th grade and above: engage classes for social science with focus on legal literacy, and help with their Board preparations, wherever possible.
- Regular counselling to gauge what the student is interested in and provide support accordingly.
- Encourage peer-learning as well as older students teaching the younger ones.
- Provide art supplies to those who are interested.
- For those in college who wish to appear for Government job exams, assistance in terms of reading materials and guidance will be provided.
- Encouragement to vocational training and entrepreneurship through Govt. schemes.
- Basic literacy and numeracy along with socio-legal literacy.
The villagers and the local community have shown great enthusiasm and support for setting up the first community library in the District. They have provided us a plot of land, on which we plan to construct two rooms (one common room and the other one is a Reading room, with toilets for boys and girls).
The foundational work of the construction has started. We estimate that the project would cost Rs. 2,72,000. However, funding the entire project on our own is becoming a bit difficult. To help provide the community with this library, we seek your small contribution. Any amount would help a long way in creating a place of empowerment, knowledge, belongingness and inclusivity for all irrespective of gender, class or community.