Workshop on “Linking Children, Youth and Children with Public Libraries” during India Public Libraries Conference

As a part of India Public Libraries Conference ( IPLC, 2015) day 3, Tata Trusts initiated and supported Workshop on “Linking Children, Youth and Children with Public Libraries” was organised. The purpose of this workshop is to build a common understanding about children’s sections in Public Libraries by focussed sharing, understanding the key elements of libraries, exposing participants to various kinds of books available and methods of engaging and linking users with various books through activities including a read aloud of a chosen book.

The workshop was conducted by Sujata Noronha, a Literacy and Library consultant with the Tata Trusts and Director of Bookworm, Goa. The workshop was supported by Tata Trusts represented by Amrita Patwardhan and hosted by National Book Trust (NBT), New Delhi in collaboration with DEF.

Participants for the workshop comprised of 7 school librarians from Bettiah in Bihar; District Librarians from Coimbatore, Barabanki, Cuttack, and Lakhipurkeri; State Librarians from Nagaland , Chennai and Haryana. NGO led community library leads and workers from Delhi, Orissa and Chennai; volunteers with both State and Community libraries and students of Library Science from Punjab University also attended the workshop and added immense value to the discussions and participation.

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The interactive workshop was designed to be participatory and ensure dialogue and discussion. The workshop had 39 participants even though the cap was on 25. It began with an introduction session where participants were connected with a web of string and they had to share one word that comes to their mind when they hear the word “library”. A number of key words like information, knowledge explosion, dissemination, issue and return, books, media emerged that set the stage for the raw material of most libraries. Very refreshing aspects like refuge, joy, engagement and learning completed the rich aspects of a library design and established linkage between participants and the aspects of a library.

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After this the participants were divided into groups and they had to list and present the key elements of a Children’s library. The resource persons then collated and categorised these words into broader categories. It was interesting to note that at this point, the focus was the user and so a number of critical features of Children’s library like joyful learning activities, good selection of books, space and furniture, motivated stand emerged.

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Then the participants were asked to work in groups and prioritise elements in the order of importance. This exercise helped to build clear understanding of the elements and how they need to work towards an effective library program keeping the user first.

A walk around the groups, enabled listening to other group’s perspectives and refreshing one’s own.

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Once the ground in a sense was laid for the key elements of a Children’s section, the workshop shifted to the theme of engagement with books. Participants, played some find a book – treasure hunt games where they were given clues about the books and they had to find pre-selected books. This was done as a relay and four participants from each group participated in it. The idea of this activity was to demonstrate one kind of activity that can be done with the books. Each group was encouraged to read the books shared.

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Following this Sujata read aloud a book in an interactive way which engages participants, bring their views and world knowledge into the session and uses focussed comprehension strategies like prediction, foretelling, speculation etc. that are important for reading. Following this the participants played Genre Bingo game to learn about the different varieties/ types of books that make a collection with different genres of books available.

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The session concluded with distributing reading materials, sets of books and participation certificates.

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Sujata Noronha

Tata Trusts http://www.tatatrusts.org/

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