The library educator’s certificate course (LEC) organized by Parag kicked off on May 23rd. The five days of contact (May 23-27) were enriching, encouraging, participatory and exhausting. Participants came from as near as Abu Road and as far as UP and Uttarakhand. A few participants stepped out of their hometowns for the first time, as they made their way to Sirohi, Rajasthan otherwise famous for Mt. Abu. Sirohi also has a public library nestled in a beautiful heritage building. One section of the library now houses a children’s corner, where the LEC contact sessions were hosted.
Among participants, there was a healthy mix of those who spoke their mind and the quiet ones who took some time opening up. The mix of faculty and mentors was equally eclectic and rich with many years of experience working with children, books and reading. Since this is a residential course, faculty, mentors and participants got to interact beyond the sessions, over dinner and breakfast.
Participants, faculty and mentors debated on the appropriate meaning of the word ‘library’. Is a library an exclusive space? Is a library anywhere a child reads a book? Multiple other debates ensued from sessions over the five days that continued over dinner. What is a good book? What does censorship mean in a child’s world? When is the right age to share electronic media with a child, if at all? How do we curate our library collection? Inclusion in literature was a huge gap area identified, as participants pinned the geographic locations of the stories they read over the week on a map.
With games, role play, energisers and poems there was never a dull moment. Theory was balanced with activities, which gave participants an opportunity to try out what they had read. Alternatively, activities were organized and then connected to academic reading to establish ideas and concepts. Participants made their own library cards, borrowed and read a variety of books. They discussed the stories and gave book talks. They wrote their daily journals about the day’s experience and a few shared the same.
The sessions gave participants and faculty food for thought and had many reflecting on their current library practices. There was much anxiety about choosing, writing and submitting assignments during the distance mode. Since many came from far flung areas with intermittent or no internet connectivity, apprehension was high on the use of Moodle, the course’s technology interface, where they can participate in group discussions, start discussions and keep in touch. But if you are a participant and reading this blog you have nothing to worry about!
We have an opportunity with children’s literature in this country. There are as many languages as there are childhoods in India and we need as many stories in print…