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Library Educator’s Course Experience

Written by Shraddha | Originally posted in Bookworm’s website: http://www.bookwormgoa.in/2017/04/23/library-educators-course-experience/

When I was first asked if I wanted to do the Library Educator’s Course, I felt excited at the opportunity to learn more about library work. I was also a bit apprehensive about managing my work and the course simultaneously. But Sujata, my director, put all my fears to rest when she told me that I have her full support.

So with butterflies in my stomach, I went for the first contact session. I did not know what to expect. I was astounded at the diversity in the participants; there were people all over the country and most interestingly, of different academic backgrounds.

I have been to many academic conferences before; most were very dry and I just couldn’t wait for them to end. But LEC redefined it for me; a complex topic like Rosenblatt’s Reader-response theory was explained by incorporating drama in the session. The essential elements of a library were imparted to us through a game with woolen yarn. We learnt about the library movement in India from the ancient to modern times by making chronology charts.

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But the best part was the discussions that I had with my fellow participants. I was exposed to many new ideas and ways of thinking; whether it was a poem on caste discrimination or a book review, whether it was deconstructing a research paper or building a mini library, I was fascinated to just listen to their perspectives, and how different they are from my own.

I felt honored to meet the author of the book ‘Under the Neem tree’, Anuradha Rao. Our book review exercise was enriched by the thoughts of this humble and gracious writer. I learnt about the troubles faced by the tribal children in Chattisghar and Jarkhand through Neeraj and Divya who have worked extensively in those regions. I was delighted to meet Namgyal and know her plans for children that come to her library in the Tibetan settlement of Mundgod.

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Through JoAnn, who had come from Chennai, I was familiarized about the history of East Indians and the works of Neil Gaiman. I had a very interesting conservation with Parveen about Emotional Intelligence, and learnt about ‘Namma Library’ (‘Our Library’ in Kannada) from Padma and Vinitha (who also happens to be a certified flight instructor).

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On the last day of the conference, I was sad to say goodbye to all these remarkable people. For me, this LEC experience was one- of- a – kind that enriched me both personally and professionally. I look forward to meeting all the people again for the next session.

Reflections from Parag Library unConference 2017

Libraries have an enormous potential in nurturing an active and vibrant learning space, wherein children with diverse interests can engage with books, access a rich collection of literature and engage with collaborative as well as self-directed learning. However, such active reading communities in school libraries are few in India and the discourse around libraries needs to be enriched. Parag’s Children’s Library unConference aims to create a platform where library educators and others engaged in the library space, with reading and children, get to meet, exchange ideas, present best practices and challenges and learn from each other—with the vision of enriching the library discourse in India.

Read the full reflections here…

Unconference 2017

(un)Conference 2017: Parag’s annual Children’s Library (un)Conference aims to create a space for children’s library discourse in India. The (un)conference will act as an avenue where library educators and others engaged in the library space, with reading and children, get to meet, exchange ideas, present best practices and challenges and learn from each other. For the inaugural (un)Conference, Parag will bring together thought leaders in the library and children’s literature space. Moving away from the regular panel discussion and presentation format, (un)Conference will host displays by eight organisations doing significant work with children’s libraries (one best practice around use of library/children’s books and its impact). Panelists and participants will do a walk-through of the displays. Post lunch panelists will share observations followed by reflection and discussion that takes the dialogue forward. The discussion will actively involve participants in the audience to share thoughts and observations. We hope this format will lead to a collaborative discussion that includes all members who are attending and enable us to build a shared vision for children’s libraries in India.

 

(un)Conference Venue – New Wing, India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi

(un)Conference Schedule – Click for updated Schedule

Registration is Compulsory. Register Here (https://goo.gl/FKIHZU)

LEC Contact 1: Paraphrasing Manisha Choudhry, Head of Content, Pratham Books, Author & Translator

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. Stories and literature are necessary in every language for every child. When children see themselves in in a story, they feel comforted. They feel validated and included. The question of what sort of literature to publish, with what kind of representation and quality is important but also difficult to answer. Children who read English and Hindi think poorly of regional languages. English is often considered superior and drawing attention to regional and lesser spoken languages becomes an uphill task. If I had the power, I would make a book about and for every child.

Children learn everywhere. Children learn from experience. Children learn from magic. There is much scope for magic in children’s literature. Some children like nonfiction, some fantasy. When children’s literature isn’t available in a child’s mother tongue, you deprive a child’s of her language and hence, a part of life and her brain. If you teach a child a language alien to her and comfortable to you, you alienate the child from her family, with whom it becomes increasingly difficult to communicate for the child.

Children learn from experience and how you provide the open and happy library experience will determine their relationship with books. Libraries should be free spaces and children shouldn’t be restricted by levels in their reading. Choice and autonomy are important but also difficult to provide, because as adults and caregivers we feel we know better. Children must be heard and listened to. Children learn to decide and make them own decisions if given the chance, if we are patient.

It is important for a child to talk about her decision in choosing a particular book, reading a book and her experience with a book. We must direct a child as little as possible. We seem to know better all the time because we worry too much. The cycle will continue unless we stop. We worry too much about the socially accepted definition of what makes a good girl and what makes a good boy.

It is important for not only children, but all of us, to meet more people, speak more languages, read more languages. The effects of participating in a plural world are great and positive. A child will learn to reflect critically the more she reads. What education and independence do we have in mind when we try to school children? What is the goal? Do we want a thinking child or a child who conforms? What we want determines what books we consider good and what books we consider not so good or inappropriate.

Many Indian authors have written children’s literature but they never publicized it or sent it for reprint. Most famous authors and Sahitya Akademi award winners have written children’s literature too. Amir Khusro, Mirza Ghalib, Mohd Iqbal, Dr Zakir Hussain, Prem Chand in Hindi, Rabindranath Tagore, to name a few. But the books are either missing or inaccessible. That shows you the status of children’s literature in the country. Good children’s literature can provide great pleasure to adults as well.

If all of us agreed that children’s literature is important, then perhaps we would have greater support for children’s literature. Our habit of seeing education as purely academic will harm us. We will realize it the day when all rivers are dry, all trees have been cut. Children’s literature will play a critical role in expanding a child’s scope of learning beyond exams into critical thinking.

The library educator’s course has kicked off!

Written by Parag Team

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.

 

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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!