Over the past decade, Parag has worked with several organisations to support, establish and promote children’s libraries and reading for pleasure. We have supported classroom and school libraries, community and village libraries and also public libraries. In 2015, Parag took the first step to set up and run libraries directly. The aim is to establish best practices and a model that can be used by others doing library work across the country.
Select a state from the map below to know more about Parag libraries in that location.
Parag supports library work in Khunti district, which is one of the educationally backward district and the major inhabitants are Munda tribes. The library work began in July 2015 as part of the Central Indian Initiative of Tata Trusts. Libraries have been set up across 156 government schools and cater to 15,000 children. Some schools have separate library rooms and others have library corners in classrooms. Since children coming from tribal areas do not understand Hindi, the medium of instruction in schools, books in Mundari were a necessity. Parag translated 29 titles from multiple publishers into Mundari and provided to the libraries. The Mundari story books were a starting point for many children, who were thrilled to read and hear stories in their mother tongue. The books were also read by parents, who had never before accessed books in Mundari. The Library Educator’s Course has also trained several team members to implement library work in Khunti.
20 libraries were set up in 2017 in partnership with Coastal Salinity Prevention Cell in coastal area in Dwaraka district. Libraries have been set up in 20 elementary schools and caters to grades 1 to 8. 20 learning assistants take library classes along with remedial sessions. Twenty government teachers were also trained to start libraries in their respective schools in grades which they are responsible for. The idea is that other teachers also take up this practice. The libraries have also benefited from Parag’s Library Educator’s Course. The coordinator who was trained is now providing library leadership to the schools and team. Since few children’s books of good quality are available in Gujarati, sourcing and making available a comprehensive collection is a challenge. Since library work has just begun, the libraries will work on improving infrastructure through collaborative art and involvement of students and teachers in the next year. Additional book procurement will also be a priority.
Parag supports 115 school library corners in three districts of Uttarakhand – Nainital, Bagheshwar and Tehri Garwal. Through its Library Educator’s Course and continuous capacity building, Parag has enabled skill building of team for both partners — Chirag and MVDA. The libraries are supported by Bal Shikshaks, who are from the community. Besides teaching Math and Language, Bal Shikshaks spend 45 minutes every day in taking library session including various library activities such as book talk, read aloud, storytelling. Bal Panchayats are active and perform various library management activities, especially borrowing and lending of the books. The library corners have a good children to book ratio is 1:9.
Parag supports 84 libraries in Bali block of Pali district in Rajasthan. Bali is one of the most educationally challenged, with over 40% Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) population. The library programme, although only a year old, hopes to have significant improvement in children’s ability to read with understanding and write to express themselves in the school language. The active and vibrant libraries have enabled children access to age appropriate books and other reading material. Since the literacy and library programme work hand in hand, Parag libraries are also one of the key tools for building literacy skills amongst students. Oral storytelling as a pedagogic practice plays a key role in engaging students, and laying a foundation for students to develop an understanding of the knowledge they gain during the storytelling process. The library also aims to provide a literate environment for neo readers, so that children can use their newly acquired reading skills to read richly illustrated story books in their own language. Library activities such as book talks, read aloud and discussions also encourages children to continue reading and hone their skills.
The libraries have active involvement of teachers, both for the literacy and library components. Teachers are trained by Parag and supported through a facilitator who visits a school once or twice a week. The programme is helping 5,000 primary school children to improve literacy levels and reading skills and experience the joys of reading good children’s books. The libraries have been set up in partnership with Centre for Microfinance, an associate organization of the Trusts. It is implemented by Bodh Shiksha Sansthan.
Parag supports 100 libraries in partnership with Kalike, in Yadgir district of Karnataka. 40 libraries, with dedicated rooms, have been set up in government schools that had existing literacy intervention, in Gurmitkal block. One wall of each library room was transformed through collaborative art by children, library facilitators and artist Ms. Abha Bhagwat. Child friendly furniture, rugs and book shelves with a rich collection of Kannada children’s literature were provided. Most importantly, 40 library facilitators were trained to set up and activate vibrant children’s libraries. It has been two years since the libraries became functional and lending and borrowing is in full swing today. Children look forward to library periods which often have carefully planned activities to introduce children to new books, new genres and discussions around books read. Parag libraries offer a rich reading resource for children of ages 6-14 and an opportunity for children to learn to be creative through verbal storytelling and art.
You can read a case study of activity best practices in Parag libraries here.
Another 60 libraries are being supported by Parag in Yadgir block. Parag supports capacity building of teachers who are in charge of the school libraries and with continuous support enables them to run active school libraries. The library collection has also been strengthened with more books.
In Uttar Pradesh Parag supports libraries in 211 primary, upper primary, and secondary schools. The context here is challenging and inequalities abound. Parag is present in some of the most backward districts of the state (Bahraich, Jaunpur and Varanasi), performing low on the development index. About 33 – 44% of families in these districts fall in the Below Poverty Line category and have less than 50% female literacy rates. However, despite challenges, reading for pleasure has already touched the lives of children across the three districts. Parag libraries have been opened for the first time in Madrasas (religious schools) in Jaunpur and Varanasi. Children attending madrasas come from the most underprivileged backgrounds and have not been exposed to books outside of the madrasa curriculum. For library facilitators, it was a challenge as madrasas have strict rules and access is limited. Poetry, action songs, role play are not encouraged, especially for girls. For all girls it was the first exposure to storybooks and also an introduction to new ideas and themes.
“It is empowering especially for girls to be able to talk about books they like and share their thoughts. But it is still early and much needs to be done to give girls that space for building confidence, communication and reading skills,” said Anup Srivastava, library facilitator.
Parag runs 50 school libraries in District Gadchiroli, as a part of the Integrated Rural Upliftment Program of the Trust, in collaboration with BPCL and District Administration of Maharashtra. Role of Parag is in setting up the library to running the library program, and also in school selection with the District Admin. The schools spread across 8 blocks and are a mix of Zilla Parishad, Ashram Shala and KGBV. The library is for the elementary group of children, classes 1 to 7, conducted by appointed teachers in schools, with support from the Parag team. The teachers are trained twice every year, and the Head Master once a year. The libraries are located in an independent room in the school building/premise. Books here are in Marathi, in some Zilla Parishad model schools, since officially they are English medium, we will also introduce books in English.
The overall objective of the program is to enhance reading in children with the aim to improve qualitative understanding and engagement with books/stories through book based activities, and work towards being an open library. School libraries being an Aspirational District mandate, we hope to address and augment the reading culture as a tool for rural development. This is especially significant in Gadchiroli since there are many children who are first generation school goers with almost no print culture at home. For children of Ashram Schools and KGBV, both being residential, the library may give them a higher scope for engagement with books. As we move forward with program implementation, we will try to shape our outreach based on the need that emerges and are felt.