Learn to cater to children’s library needs

Originally posted in DNA: 

To promote reading for pleasure through use of children’s literature, Parag initiative of Tata Trusts has come up with first-of-its-kind professional development certificate course


After conducting a study of 15-20 non-profit organisations working on setting up or initiating libraries for children in rural areas, pan India in 2012, Parag initiative tried understanding key challenges that are faced in scaling quality programme.

The organisation figured one of the key gaps was to provide systematic training to facilitators.

They also noted that library science courses in the country do not educate librarians on special requirements of setting up libraries for children. “Library science departments do not offer any course for children’s librarians and hence the field has remained underdeveloped,” says Swaha Sahoo, Head-Parag Initiative at Tata Trusts.

In 2013-14, team Parag designed their first pilot course for the librarians in Hindi.

On realising that short term workshops and training were inadequate to bring about lasting changes, they came up with an idea of the Library Educator’s Course (LCE), a seven-months course for professionals. “LCE is open to all educators. It’s intended for librarians, development sector professionals, literacy educators and language experts,” affirms Sahoo.

The course has been designed to help practitioners to perceive library as an open creative space for all curricular areas, especially reading for pleasure.

Role of a library educator…

Most government run primary schools don’t have a librarian’s post. However, Right to Education Act (2009) mandates that every elementary school should have a library. Librarians aren’t mere book keepers. They work closely with children and books, continues Sahoo, they should be called as library educators.

Although, it’s a shared responsibility of the teacher, librarian, and parent to introduce children to books and reading, a library educator can be the central pivot to start children’s lifelong friendship with books. A well-trained library educator understands the world of books and can encourage children to read and explore multiple genres, especially the children that come from non-literate homes. “We should definitely keep boards and exams out of the library or the library educator’s role,” says Sahoo, who was an education beat journalist for more than a decade before associating with Parag.

The course…

Offered in Hindi and English, the course is conducted in dual mode – contact sessions and distance mode. The Hindi course is offered directly by Parag whereas the English course is done in partnership with Bookworm, Goa.

The Hindi course starts in May whereas English in April. It has three contact periods totaling 12 days along with distance mode including course readings, assignments, field projects etc.

There are no tests. The students have to do four assignments which they have to submit over the course period and a field project at the end of the year, based on which they will be graded. They are also graded as per the class participation.

While some papers and sessions are planned differently every year, the vision and the focus of the course remains the same. “In the current LEC (Hindi) batch we have participants who have joined on recommendations by their colleagues, who happen to be our ex-students,” affirms Sahoo. LEC’s long term aim is to develop children’s libraries as a separate discipline and to establish the role of trained library educators as crucial to children’s growth and development.

For Hindi: Five days in May, four days in August, and the last one is in November for three days.

For English: Five days in April, four days in July and the last one is in October for three days.

The course has no upper age limit.

Each class consists of 30 students.

No fixed timings.

Fees (highly subsidized): 25,000/- for Hindi, 30,000/- for English. It can be paid in installments.

Talk to ponder

We just winded up the second contact classes of the 3rd batch of Library Educator’s Course and one thing that stayed with me this time was the ‘need to talk’ about literature. As we tried to look at literature with different lenses and understand reader response we stumbled with the fact that perhaps except a few, the opportunity and space to talk about literature seems like a rare occasion or perhaps missing from our lives. A talk from the heart, devoid of any fear of being judged or free of the motive to arrive at the ‘right’ response. LEC brings a range of literature to participants and when it’s time to read or engage with a book in a session, for a participant the outcome in focus overtakes any one-to-one with the text… But often when we pause and ponder during this process or hear out others, what unfolds is a rich personal sharing which fills small group conversations. And it doesn’t always emerge on its own, but is sometimes created and nurtured.

When struck with an abundance of literature in these four to six days of our coming together, time falls short for emotions to unfold and an open sharing. Words fail our articulation. In the daily bustle of life we perhaps forget or overlook our need to talk about what we read. And ordinary schooling doesn’t tell us in any way that we need to talk. As educators we too rush to transfer our understanding to children/teachers and the trap of one right interpretation spreads.

During LEC I realized, everyone had so much within them, so beautifully tied with a memory, an experience, a feeling but it takes a lot for it to emerge.

clip_image002 clip_image003clip_image005

A participant expressed her need to talk about a poem on Gujarat riots by Anshu Malviya and the insane violence that is difficult to imagine, someone was drawn to the sadness that a son’s hanging brought to an old father in “Samudr tat par’ by O.V Vijayan, or the happiness that surrounded a dying street child in ‘Maachis bechne wali ladki’ by Hans Christian Andersen or the friendship of Mukand and Riaz amidst the backdrop of partition told so beautifully by Nina Sabnani, reminded a few of us of our own lost friends and the digital age which perhaps makes that loss ‘not so precious’. And there could be much more that is left unsaid and untold. More than anything we would learn or gain from such reading, what became important was our own thoughts about them. How they shaped, what they mean for another reader and for our larger presence and role in our current world. We all perhaps might have read something beautiful in our lives that stayed with us and might have just answered some ‘textbookish’ questions about it. But have we spoken what stirred our heart or what kept bringing that book back on our reading list or kept it away or connected us to something or drowned us in ideas or….the list is endless.

clip_image007 clip_image009

A participant from a tribal background expressed how people he met always told him ‘to read’ and here in the Library course, friends ask ‘have you read this book?’ and there begins a conversation. This is not a matter of just reading but the identity that is associated with a reader. Perhaps libraries were meant to be such spaces. And against the common belief it is not just a space for the reader but also the non-reader because both are not passive beings of this world and are reading the world continuously.

In my own childhood and while growing up, the experience of a library was that of a ‘Silent’ room where you are with your ‘self’ and the book and your thoughts. What’s the value of sharing? Can any dialogue bring me more than the book tells me and is it important to make? To me personally, ‘talking’ only brings more and I go back to the book and re-think. I re-think about how my mind worked on this and how the other reader interpreted the same thing, what the author is saying to me and why, and why I believe or resent it or accept it with my own lens. As we move ahead with this course, the need to talk about literature or enable this for children’s libraries gets stronger in my head but only when we ourselves have opened our mind to it.

Ajaa is a Faculty with the Library Educator’s Course.

Experiences with future Library educators : Reflections on second contact

It was with great excitement that I participated in the second contact period of Library Educators Course (LEC) in offered by Bookworm in partnership with Parag Initiative of Tata Trusts.

In the morning, I was met by an empty hall at 11 am, and I was wondering how will the contact period unfold? I was not only excited but also a little nervous and then the Bookworm team came. They worked like a skilled and coordinated team. They arranged bookshelves, kept books, created reading spaces and a series of small activities and then the place started to look vibrant and inviting people to want to read. I could not even imagine that this whole space could be transformed in just one hour! It was this team’s skill and vision on library that could achieve this.


First day of the contact session started with welcoming participants by making beautiful Rangoli together, to create a warm and creative environment for the contact session.

An important experience from this contact period was that a good discussion relies on so many small but important things like the sequence of sessions, the harmony among hearing, sharing and asking, which actually enable us to learn collectively. Usha’s session on Emily Ford’s paper was amazing, particularly the way she linked the session with books like That Bookwoman, Clara and the Book Wagon, Biblioburro, during the activity to understand “Praxis” in the Library. Jane’s session on illustration and becoming a reader was not only thought provoking but also enabled participant to consolidate their imagination about joy of reading. I realized that reading and library is itself a domain of knowledge. These sessions compel us to think about literature viz-a-viz Children’s library and reading.

The architects of the contact period were very sensitive toward listening capacity which was explored in a session woven around listening games by Alia. These games and exercises were refreshing and fun.

The specialized and technical sessions were beautifully supplemented by social aspect around reading and library. Megha took session on “Thematic teaching in the Library”. For this, she took an example of gender discrimination and enabled the participants to read and discuss on Thejasvi Shivanand’s paper. Through group discussion she showed that the main characters of children’s books are males, but she also emphasized that there are many such books that break this hegemony of male characters or their depictions. She linked the session with children’s books and enabled LEC participants to read and understand gender perspective in select books. It was my first experience to know library and reading through a gender perspective. It was a very interactive and reflective session. I must say that the collection of books of gender themes was carefully curated and supported the session in important ways.


Though the main focus of session was gender, but for me it was amazing to know how bookmarking not only facilitates the reader but it also motivates readers to be pulled into a new theme. Through group work, importance of making bookmarks with some critical reflection was brought out.

Sujata had explained the vision and background of library at all time with a focus on the effect and experiences of library during the war. The discussion on war and linking the session with children’s books was a great way to enable the participants to understand the role of libraries in a larger socio- political sense. During the past few decades, historians have choosen variety of sources to interpret and reconstruct past, in this session we were able to understand past through selected children’s storybooks. She provided selected children’s story to participants. The selection of reading was impeccable, which was visible during the discussion of session. We felt a unique and untouched page of history that is about “library as a free space – a haven – our hope”.

There was another technical session by Sujata on Library assessment. This session got a new and constructive perspective on library evaluation. The session focused on a lot of practical aspect for smooth functioning of library, which included developing indicators and tools for assessment.

The contact period was a good demonstration of how learning can happen with fun. The session on drama where participants were acting out Sujata and Usha and trying to answer the questions on Libraries in the way they do was wonderful and full of fun.

On a personal note I think there are a lot of things that one can learn from all the sessions.

Along with a variety of books there were a lot of things displayed, particularly the display on “rain” and “handmade books” was really nice and reflective. The idea of “paper drops” was special, where each participant wrote their name on the paper drop and hung it on a display – making the display not just beautiful but interactive.

It’s not just a playful phrase, but in fact, I want to say that visiting Bookworm library, as part of the exposure visit, not only supplemented the learning during the sessions, but it was a complete experience in itself.



Aug 2018

Nitu Singh works with Parag, an initiative of Tata Trusts as Assistant Manager. She is coordinating the Library Educator’s Certificate course.

पुस्तकगाडीतील एक दिवस

Written by Pramod Kamble

पुस्तकगाडी (फिरते ग्रंथालय) हा प्रकल्प आदिवासी विकास विभाग व क्वॉलीटी एज्यूकेशन सपोर्ट ट्रस्ट यांच्या सहकार्याने पालघर जिल्ह्यातील दहा आश्रम शाळांमध्ये राबवविला जातो. मुलांमध्ये वाचनाची आवड निर्माण करणे व वाचन संस्कृती रुजविणे हा या प्रकल्पाचा उद्देश आहे. या प्रकल्पाद्वारे मुलांना असंख्य गोष्टीची पुस्तके उपलब्ध करून देणे, उत्तम पद्धतीने वाचून दाखविणे, त्यावर आधारीत लेखन करण्यास प्रोत्साहन देणे, तसेच बालसिनेमे दाखविणे या सारखे उपक्रम घेतले जातात. 

शाळेच्या इमारतीत स्वतंत्र ग्रंथालयाच्या खोलीची व्यवस्था नसते. बहुतेक सगळ्याच आश्रम शाळेतील मुलांची रहाण्याची व्यवस्थाही शाळेतील वर्गातच असते. आजारी मुलं वर्गातच मागील बाजूस झोपलेली असतात. त्यांच्यासाठी स्वतंत्र व्यवस्था नसते. वर्गामध्येच मुलांच्या सामानाच्या पेट्या असतात. बऱ्याच वेळेस पेट्या तुटक्या असतात. त्यांना कुलूप लावण्याची सोय देखील नसते. मुलांना वह्या, पुस्तके, कपडे शाळेकडूनच मिळतात. अभ्यासक्रमाच्या पुस्तकांखेरीज अन्य पुस्तके त्यांना मिळत नाही आणि त्यामुळे आम्ही नेत असलेली गोष्टीची पुस्तके परत न देता मुले स्वत:जवळ ठेवून घेतील आणि त्यामुळे काही पुस्तकं गहाळ होतील हे आम्ही गृहीत धरून चाललो होतो.


सोमवारी साकूर कन्या आश्रमशाळेत पोहचता-पोहचता १२.३० झाले. मुख्याध्यापकांना भेटण्यासाठी कार्यालयात गेलो असता नेहमीप्रमाणे ते मिटींगसाठी जव्हारला गेल्याच कळलं. कार्यालयातील शिपायाजवळ सरांकरिता निरोप ठेवला आणि नियोजना प्रमाणे मी पाचवीच्या वर्गावर गेलो. हजेरी घेणं चालू केलं, अचानक माझं लक्ष दाराकडे गेलं. दोन मुली दारात उभ्या होत्या. मी त्यांना आत येऊन बसायला सांगितल्यावर लगेचच वर्गातील मुलींकडून उत्तर आलं की, “ते पाचवीच्या नाय सातवीच्या हाहेत.” मी त्यांना येण्याचं कारण विचारलं तर त्या काहीच बोलल्या नाहीत. मी जागेवरून उठलो व त्यांच्याजवळ जाऊन पुन्हा तोच प्रश्न विचारला. पुन्हा तेच, दोघी ढिम्म, काहीच उत्तर नाही. मी पुन्हा विचारलं “बरं वाटत नाही का?  झोपायचे आहे का? पेटीतून काही सामान काढायचे आहे का?” असं विचारलं अनं बोलता-बोलता त्या मुलीचे नाव चमसरा असल्याच मला आठवलं. पुन्हा मी बोललो “काय झालं चमसरा?” तसं ती धीर करून म्हणाली “सर आमचे वर्गावं ये”. ‘यांचे झालं की तुमच्या वर्गावर येतो’ असं आश्वासन देऊन दोघींना पाठवले. पाचवीच्या वर्गात काम करताना वेळ कसा गेला तेच कळलं नाही. घंटा वाजल्यावर जेवणाची सुटी झाल्याचं आणि दोन वाजल्याच लक्षात आलं. दुपारचं जेवण आटपून गाडीत पुस्तक वाचत बसलो होतो. या सगळ्या गडबडीत चमसरा प्रकरण विसरून गेलो होतो. घंटा वाजली, सुटी संपली, शाळा भरली. सुटी संपल्यावर मुली वर्ग झाडून साफ करतात त्यामुळे आणखी थोडावेळ हाताशी होताच म्हणून स्वस्थपणे पुस्तक वाचतं गाडीत बसून होतो. कानाशी आवाज आला “ सर आमच्याव ये” मी पुस्तकातून डोकं बाहेर काढून पाहीलं तर पुन्हा चमसरा. मी हसलो आणि बोललो “जा वर्ग झाडून साफ करा, मी येतोच.” चमसरा बोलली “सर झाडेल” (सर झाडला आहे)  थोड्या आश्चर्यानी मी म्हणालो “झाडला ? बरं ठीक आहे. व्हा पुढे, मी येतोच”.  मला गाडीतून पुस्तकं, लेसनप्लान, हजेरी रजिस्टर शोधायला थोडा वेळ गेला, तोपर्यंत त्या जवळच घुटमळत होत्या. सगळं सामान घेऊन मी वर्गाच्या दिशेने चालू लागलो. त्या मा‍झ्यासोबतच चालत होत्या.

सातवीच्या वर्गात पोहचलो, हजेरी झाली. मागील वेळेस अर्धे वाचलेलं पुस्तक वाचून पूर्ण केलं. पुस्तकातील विषयाला धरून झाडे नष्ट झाली तर काय होईल या विषयावर चर्चा चालू केली पण मुलींचा फारसा सहभाग दिसत नव्हता, त्यांची कसली तरी चुळबुळ चालू होती. न राहून चर्चा बंद करीत मी विचारलं “काय झालं.” एक मुलगी बोलली “सर पुस्तका.” “पुस्तकांच काय?” मी विचारलं. “भासलेली पुस्तका” (हरवलेली पुस्तकं) हातात ८-१० पुस्तक घेऊन उभी राहत चमसरा बोलली. मी पुढे जाऊन पुस्तक हातात घेत विचारलं, “सापडली तर पुस्तकं ”. आठवड्या भराच्या गडबडीत विसरून गेलेलं मागच्या सोमवारचं पुस्तक प्रकरण मला आठवलं.

  दयानंद सोबत पुस्तकांचे ऑडीट करायला आलो होतो त्या वेळेस लक्षात आलं की सातवीच्या वर्गातून १२ पुस्तकं परत आली नाहीत. मी थोडासा चिडूनच वर्गात गेलो आणि ज्या मुलींनी पुस्तक परत दिली नहीत त्यांना उभं केलं. पुस्तकं न परतवण्याचं कारण विचारलं. सगळ्यांकडून एकच उत्तर “भासलं” (हरवलं). हरवलेल्या पुस्तकाची किंमत अथवा दंड घेणं हा पर्याय माझ्याजवळ उपलब्ध नव्हता. मुलींना घडलेल्या घटनेचे गांभिर्य लक्षात आणून देणे गरजेच होतं. मुलीं जवळील सगळी पुस्तकं जमा केली व त्यांना सांगीतलं हरवलेली पुस्तकं मिळाली नाहीत तर त्यांची किंमत मला भरावी लागेल. माझे नुकसान होत असेल तर यापुढे कोणालाच पुस्तक वाचायला देणार नाही आणि तुमच्या वर्गावर देखील येणार नाही असे त्यांना सहजच सांगीतले.

गेल्या वर्षभरात दहा ते बारा वेळा पुस्तक देवघेव प्रक्रिया सर्व शाळांतील मुलांसोबत झाली होती. कार्यक्रमाच्या सुरवातीच्या दोन महिन्यांत पाचवी, सहावी आणि सातवी इयत्तेच्या वर्गातील मुलांना प्रत्येक भेटी दरम्यान एका तासिके पुरती पुस्तकं वाचायला देऊन परत घेतली जात. हळूहळू मुलांना पुस्तकांची आवड निर्माण झाली व ती पुस्तकं ठेवायला मागू लागली. मुलांना पुस्तक देण्यापूर्वी त्यांची काळजी कशी घ्यावी, कशा पद्धतीने हाताळावे यासारख्या सूचना वारंवार दिल्या गेल्या. पुस्तकं तुमच्यासाठीच आहेत, जपून वापरली तरचं ती मागे शिकत असलेल्या तुमच्या बहीण-भावंडांना वाचायला मिळतील याचीही जाणीव करूण देण्यात आली. मुलांकडून पुस्तकं नीट वापरली जातील असे आश्वासन मिळाल्यानंतरच मुलांना पुस्तकं ठेवायला देण्यात येऊ लागली.

क्वचित आश्रमी मुलांकडील एखाद दुसरे पुस्तक हरवल्याचं किंवा पेटीचे कुलूप तोडून चोरी झाल्याच्या घटना घडत. पण मुळ समस्या दुसरीच आहे असं नंतर आमच्या लक्षात आलं. आश्रमशाळेत एका वर्गात ८० ते १०० मुलं असतात. उपलब्ध जागेची व्यवस्था पहाता सगळ्याच मुलांची शाळेत रहाण्याची सोय करता येत नाही. जवळच्या गावतील, पाड्यातील मुलं अशा परिस्थितीत घरून ये-जा करतात. या मुलांना डे-स्कॉलर म्हणतात. डे-स्कॉलर मुलांना घरी न्यायला दिलेली पुस्तक हरवल्यामुळे किंवा फाटल्यामुळे परत मिळत नाहीत. अशा मुलांकडून हरवलेल्या पुस्तकांची संख्या मोठी होती असे पुस्तक देवघेव रजीस्टर तपासल्या नंतर कळाले.

आता मा‍झ्या लक्षात आलं की चमसरा मी आल्या पासून सारखी का माझ्या मागे लागली होती ते. हाततील पुस्तकं मोजली. ती १० होती. पुस्तक देवघेव रजिस्टर मध्ये ती मिळाल्याची नोंद केली पण अजूनही २ पुस्तके परत आली नव्हती. त्याबद्दल मुलींशी बोललो तर त्या म्हणाल्या, ”भासेल पुस्तकाचं पैसं आमी देव, पन वर्गावं इजोस हो” (हरवलेल्या पुस्तकांचे पैसे आम्ही देतो. पण आमच्या वर्गात या.) मी होकार दिला आणि बाहेर निघालो.

आश्रमशाळेतील पुस्तेक नेहमी कपाटात ठेवली जातात आणि त्या मागे एक उत्तर ऐकायला मिळते  ते म्हणजे मुले पुस्तके फाडतात. म्हणजे अप्रत्यपणे मुलांना पुस्तकांची किंमत कळत नाही असं खरं तर त्यांच म्हणणं असतं. पण या निमित्ताने का होईना वरिल म्हणण्याला काही पाठींबा मिळत नाही. उलट पुस्तकांची आवड मुलांमध्ये निर्माण झाली तर ती पुस्तकांची काळजीही घेतात. त्यांना त्यांच्या जबाबदारीची जाणिव असते हेच या प्रसंगातून दिसून येते.   


                                                                 प्रमोद कांबळे

Pramod Kamble works with Quality Education Support Trust (QUEST), Maharashtra and is a participant in the Library Educators’ Course (Hindi batch), 2017.

Library Educators Course Hindi 2017 Glimpses

Book talk by Participant (2)

Book talk by Participant

Book talk by Participant

Book talk by Participant



Dumb Charadge

Dumb Charade

Group discussion.

Group discussion

Group Discussion

Group Discussion

Group Reading (2)

Group Reading

Group Reading

Group Reading



Library display

Library display

Pitara Visit..

Pitara Visit

Pitara Visit

Pitara Visit

Poetry Evening - Anware Islam reading poem

Poetry Evening – Anware Islam reading poem

Poetry Evening..

Poetry Evening

Read Aloud on Biblioburro

Read Aloud on Biblioburro

Reading Article

Reading Article

Showing book mark made by participants

Showing bookmark made by participants

Shushil Shukla Session on Children literature

Shushil Shukla Session on Children literature

Singing poem in group

Singing poem in group

Gurbachan Ji speech on last day of contact

Gurbachan Ji’s speech on last day of contact

Mentor participants interaction (2)

Mentor participants interaction

Mentor Participants interaction

Mentor Participants interaction

Poetry Evening- Rajesh Joshi reading Poem

Poetry Evening- Rajesh Joshi reading Poem

Poetry Evening

Poetry Evening

Session by Tultul Biswas on Notion of Child

Session by Tultul Biswas on Notion of Child

LEC hindi Group Photo (2)

LEC Hindi group photo





Game & reading time

Playing dumb charadge.

Playing dumb charade

Playing Game..

Playing Game

Playing Game (2)

Playing Game

Playing Game

Playing Game

Reading Time 2

Reading Time

Reading Time

Reading Time

Reflections on LEC Yatras

“Oh! You’re going to Goa?” “You’ll have a grand time there with the sea and the sand and the food,” said everyone a bit enviously when they heard I was off to Goa for a week. It’s true- Goa is a very special place. Its unique history, its natural beauty, the friendliness and open-heartedness of the locals make it so. And for me, it’s even more special because it is the home of Bookworm!

As the plane dipped down to land at Goa, memories of our earlier LEC encounters swooped into my mind. Udaipur was the first. How eager and yet unsure we were. It was all unknown territory. Why did we want to take this on? Who would it be for? What should we cover? When should it happen? How would it work?! There were only questions. But it is ‘a truth universally known’ that working and thinking together makes things happen. And so it did! We were off and running.

The Udaipur course began and the camaraderie at our living quarters was unmatchable. Faculty and participants share rooms, sometimes with bats as well. The baked rooms were a challenge to sleep in at night but the fellowship was paramount. In winter our bathwater steamed over a gas fire at one end of the corridor. But nothing was a problem. There were always ready hands to carry my bath water to my room. At night those who were game gathered on the terrace to sing, laugh and mingle. On the last night, Sujata and I were ceremoniously escorted to the terrace where two rickety but stable chairs had been found for us to sit back on, and enjoy the entertainment.

We discovered that language was no barrier to a group of eager and committed library educators to immerse themselves in the course. Many of them picked up the torch and kept it alight in small communities where they work.

In each space and with each batch it was a course for all seasons. Intolerable heat, welcome rain and cold cold nights.

On to LEC 2 and to Sirohi in Rajasthan. We were ensconced in a luxurious hotel this time but nothing could keep the scorching sun at bay during our sessions. The hall was not too spacious and we were all too close to each other for physical comfort. But never by word or gesture did we hear a complaint. Enthusiasm and total involvement were paramount- from faculty, mentors and participants. This group of library educators was a bit more experienced and articulate perhaps, but the eagerness to learn and share was all too visible. The close bonding between the participants was evident again when Sujata and I went to their floor one night. The corridor was alight with laughter, song and chatter. What fun it seemed. The faculty had their fun too- sneaking out during sessions to have Kulfi at the roadside cart!

unnamed (1)unnamed


All of them are back at their places of work hopefully carrying a part of what we have shared. But without close mentoring will it get diluted? And how is mentoring to happen across such diverse spaces? These questions remain.

A gentle bump brings me back to the present. We are in Goa and it is time to embark on LEC No. 3 in English A new set of participants and for me – new challenges. I have been a practitioner all my working life, using instinct, observation and a strong bonding with books and children, to guide my actions. Now a strong academic element deepened and directed the course. Would I be able to rise to these new and exciting challenges? The participant group too had impressive backgrounds of research and writing. Then there was Moodle. But that is another story! But as I stood on the first morning in the circle of connection, I felt a deep sense of communion. We are all in this together and there will now be many more strong voices to speak and act on behalf of children and reading. We may be at different levels and stages in our learning but we are all one in this quest. Each of us is flowering in our own little patch but also slowly but surely putting out tendrils to reach out further and further.

Nijugrapher-LEC_English_2017 - 16 - DSC_7350Nijugrapher-LEC_English_2017 - 49 - DSC_7389Nijugrapher-LEC_English_2017 - 98 - DSC_7441

Quiet time for reading. Quiet time on the beach. I felt invigorated and soothed at these times. I think I went through a whole gamut of emotions during this contact session but looking back, I feel each was a tremendous learning for me as my LEC yatras continue.

I am sharing a poem called “Home.” Read library as home!


Give me a home
that isn’t mine,
where I can slip in and out of rooms
without a trace,
never worrying
about the plumbing,
the colour of the curtains,
the cacophony of books by the bedside.
A home that I can wear lightly,
where the rooms aren’t clogged
with yesterday’s conversations,
where the self doesn’t bloat
to fill in the crevices.
A home, like this body,
so alien when I try to belong,
so hospitable
when I decide I’m just visiting.

Arundhathi Subramaniam

Usha Mukunda May 7th 2017.

In and Out of the Library System

Originally posted in Bookworm’s website:

I have been on the margins of the Government system for all of my life – both personal and professional until the last decade. It is a comfortable, easy place to stand and watch and intersect when and if necessary, driven always by my own needs.

My Professional intersections have begun to grow more robust as I learnt more in my educational endeavours about the role, the magnitude, the enormous responsibility the state has  in the  sector of education, amongst all other. My gaze of the state has been changing, is becoming more balanced and I find I am driving harder to engage in spaces that offer me the personal – professional mix of understanding and learning.

This seems kind of muddled, given that I have been a part of Civil Society for over twenty years now, and am driven deeply by a need to contribute to society beyond the personal. However,  I do realise that my engagement even from the space of the ‘third sector’ has been one of non – interference in the state and non – engagement with what emits therefrom. This was in the past. In the present, I am watching, listening and also interacting, having found a space that demands my presence and allows me to learn more effectively.

This year, with support of Parag ( an initiative of the Tata Trust) Bookworm, offers the Library Educator’s Course in English. I have been very closely involved in designing this course for the past five years and feel a sense of ownership on it’s outcomes, it’s possibilities and it’s impact.

In every state in India, the library ails. It appears to be receiving a pump in the arm by a revival and renewal of energy through world wide funds but we will cast this aside for now. To return to the  Library Educator’s Course, it is imagined as one that fills the significant gap of what must and can happen in a children’s library.

And so when we launched our course in Goa, my colleague and friend Amrita Patwardhan and I decided to write to the state departments, seeking their interest in our course. Our intention was mild, we wanted to inform and leave. The response we received from the Directorate of Art and Culture, responsible in Goa for Public Libraries was far from mild. There was a deep interest in our objectives, our purpose and the space for engagement.

Five librarians from the Department of Art and Culture, Government of Goa have been deputed to the Course. A very significant step for LEC and for our relationships of intersection. We are now more formally engaged and it is a celebration for me.

On the 12th of April, 2017 five unsuspecting libraries deputed by their superiors arrived at Bambolim Beach Resort and they may never be the same here onwards.

Vinda, who was deeply questioning her presence and need at a contact course like this, began a count down of how many days to go home. While this did not change what changed was her engagement. She began to listen and be aware that people in library work think and question and do not just do. They appear to feel and become passionate about aspects of theory that she had previously never had reason to think about and she decided , she would engage. She reached for some stitching material displayed on the Library Activity Table and spent late evenings stitching herself into the course.

Nijugrapher-Bookworm_Library_Educators_Course_English_2017 - 20 - DSC_8094

In a brief write – up about libraries, Vinda writes, ” Library is like a river . Knowledge and information cause it to flow and this flow makes the river meet the sea. Knowledge and information never ends, like the water cycle, it gets turned into rain that adds to the river and the sea “

Nijugrapher-Bookworm_Library_Educators_Course_English_2017 - 9 - DSC_7272

Dattaraj, was quiet and shared that when group sharings were on, he always passed the mike. On the last day of the contact, he shared that he was waiting for the mike to come to him so that he too could talk.  He organised a dumb-charades game for all the participants to bring the collection alive and wrote , “Library is a heart of an institution.”

Nijugrapher-Bookworm_Library_Educators_Course_English_2017 - 18 - DSC_7286

Kedar, quiet and gentle lifted us up at an assembly in song. He sings beautifully and he listened with deep care and attention during sessions and wrote that for him, ” A library is like a warehouse – filled with different kinds of books that are carefully arranged for use”.

Nijugrapher-LEC_English_2017 - 165 - DSC_7567

Reena, the most confident of the group found her voice when she did a wonderful booktalk on The Girl Who Hated Books, by Manjusha Pawagi. In preparing for her booktalk, Reena interacted with other participants who all supported her preparation and strengthened her confidence.  Reena expressed a library as ” a market for everyday reading and a garden where you can go and pick up the best flowers for yourself”. With metaphors like this, we are filled with hope and confidence in Reena.

Nijugrapher-Bookworm_Library_Educators_Course_English_2017 - 16 - DSC_8090

Padmaja, is still finding her place in our group. She is comforted by the presence of her colleagues who are very supportive and nurturing and we look forward to hearing more from Padmaja as the course progresses. Padmaja, clearly loves her work because she writes, ” Library is a beautiful work place, where librarians work happily .”


My engagement with these librarians will grow stronger because I am also their mentor on the course and as we meet , I learn more about them and their work. I am learning how hard the system is trying to provide a library facility, opportunity and engagement with reading and how only if we work together we can strengthen each other.  I am now in the system, my gaze is inward and I await the learning.

Nijugrapher-Bookworm_Library_Educators_Course_English_2017 - 82 - DSC_7755



Nijugrapher-Bookworm_Library_Educators_Course_English_2017 - 2 - DSC_7824

Library Educator’s Course Experience

Written by Shraddha | Originally posted in Bookworm’s website:

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.

Nijugrapher-LEC_English_2017 - 39 - DSC_7375

Nijugrapher-Bookworm_Library_Educators_Course_English_2017 - 96 - DSC_7965
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.

Nijugrapher-Bookworm_Library_Educators_Course_English_2017 - 22 - DSC_8097

Nijugrapher-Bookworm_Library_Educators_Course_English_2017 - 10 - DSC_8084

Nijugrapher-Bookworm_Library_Educators_Course_English_2017 - 12 - DSC_7839Nijugrapher-Bookworm_Library_Educators_Course_English_2017 - 20 - DSC_7288
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).

Nijugrapher-Bookworm_Library_Educators_Course_English_2017 - 11 - DSC_8085

Nijugrapher-LEC_English_2017 - 190 - DSC_7600

Nijugrapher-LEC_English_2017 - 88 - DSC_7431

Nijugrapher-LEC_English_2017 - 44 - DSC_7383
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…