Under its Parag initiative, the Tata Trusts partnered with Vidya Bhawan Society, Udaipur to develop and offer the Library Educator’s Course (LEC) from September 2013 – March 2014. This is first of its kind course for practitioners, teachers, librarians who work with children and books, to build their understanding and skills to effectively design library sessions with children. A 2011 study of status and key challenges faced by organizations running school and community based libraries for children revealed that developing capacity of library professionals was a major need. The course is also timely in the climate of Right to Education Act in the country where libraries are mandated and recognized as vital spaces and energizers for learning, though there are no avenues to build capacity of teachers or professionals to promote reading through libraries.
The course was offered in a dual mode over a 6 month period. During this period there were 3 contact (i.e. face to face) sessions and was followed with a distance learning period where participants did, readings, assignments, participated in online discussion forum and did a field project where they identified and worked on a field based problem.
Participants from 10-12 Trust partners who run classroom / school or community based libraries were part of the first pilot batch. The total group size was 30, an optimum number for either whole group work of small group/ individual work.
Participants were broadly from 2 linguistic groups – Hindi and Marathi. Medium of instruction for the course was in Hindi with attempt being made during all contacts to provide Marathi language support. Participants were free to submit their assignments in their own language as well. Every participant had a mentor from the core group and this was found to be a good support and link between the participant and the course faculty and greatly strengthened learning and understanding.
The course was designed to develop perspective on role of libraries, understanding reading process in children, selection and appropriate use of different forms of children’s literature to draw children into reading and evaluating effectiveness of libraries. Course focused on experiential learning as well as readings, small group work, offering and reflecting on the library sessions and so on .