What is a library? Six months ago, I would have given a completely different answer to that question. I was unaware of the depth and possibilities libraries hold despite having access to them since childhood. It became clear only when I began working as a fellow with PRAYOG, a children’s library.
Working with this organization has forced me to question my limited notions of what a library is and can be. Through my experience, I have come to see a library as much more than a mere collection of books. It is a dynamic and interactive physical and mental space. It offers openness, diversity, new possibilities, a multitude of experiences, thoughts, stories, ideas, and much more. I have had the opportunity to explore the critical role that libraries play in early childhood development and education.
A capacity-building program at PRAYOG provided me with an incredible opportunity to deepen my understanding of libraries. From 16th to 21st January 2023, I got an opportunity to participate in a workshop hosted by Bookworm with the support from Wipro Foundation.
Throughout the workshop, I gained a wealth of valuable insights into the true nature of libraries and their endless possibilities. The various activities, exchanges, talks, presentations, sessions, games, and dialogues at the workshop provided us with the opportunity to delve deeper into the seven critical elements of a library. This included the following things :
- The space,
- Collection of books
- Interactions and
- Library Activities
These elements work together to create a rich and dynamic library environment that fosters growth and development.
We were able to explore creative ways to make the library space more engaging and participatory for users of all ages and backgrounds. From designing interactive and adaptable spaces to developing innovative programming and outreach strategies, we learned how to create a more inclusive and welcoming library environment that meets the diverse needs of its users.
My Personal Experience
Every day was jam-packed with a lot of activities that provided us with rich insights about libraries and a nurturing learning experience. The warm welcome and introduction to the Bookworm Library by the team was something that touched my heart.
The library had a great organizational structure, with engaging displays and small activities designed near various shelves and rooms that caught my interest. The library had something for everyone, and it was great to see how it catered to all age groups.
The best part of the workshop was the opportunity to meet and learn from 20 other people from various organizations. The peer learning was invaluable, as each person added a new perspective and value to the collective wisdom. It was also a great way to develop new relationships and networks.
Through various games and activities, we got introduced to different aspects of the Bookworm Library. This included various sections, age group-wise distribution of books, and the organization of its curated collection. These games provided experiential learning opportunities that helped us develop our curiosity, excitement, and teamwork. The workshop provided many opportunities for reflection. We engaged in art activities, stitching, crafts, and other reflective questions.
The highlight of the workshop was the trip to the beach and the island of Chorao. The serene surroundings were a perfect setting to contemplate and process the lessons we learned. The exposure trip reminded me of the value of experiential learning and how it can be used to introduce specific books to start conversations about different themes in our library.
One of the key takeaways from the workshop was exploring more about how the library is not just a physical space with a collection of books. Rather, it is an open space that caters to and nurtures the curiosities, interests, and needs of its people. A library can be a place for socialization, learning, experiencing a range of emotions, making friends, feeling safe, gaining knowledge, and making sense of the world around us.
The workshop also provided me with a fresh perspective on the role of libraries in society. Libraries can be a place where new ideas, perspectives, and diversity can be introduced to readers. Libraries can be a safe space where risky topics can be discussed and where individuals can be empowered to identify themselves.
During the workshop, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in Bookworm’s vast collection of books and read many wonderful books. The stories were engaging and the illustrations were fascinating, and I found myself thoroughly enjoying each one. This opportunity also allowed me to learn more about various books that we can add to our own library’s collection.
Another key takeaway was the importance of settling down activities in library practice. We learned that games and small activities that promote focus, calmness, and body harmonization can be a great way to help readers settle in and get the most out of their library experience.
Finally, the workshop helped me to realize that a good book is more than just an interesting story. A book must also meet the needs and requirements of its target audience, taking into account factors like language, storyline, characters, values, word usage, content, and context.
In conclusion, this workshop was a transformative experience for me, and I am grateful for the opportunity. The workshop provided me with fresh insights into libraries and their function. The numerous reflection activities enabled me to better comprehend the objectives of these practices and how to make them more compelling and effective.
As a result, my knowledge of libraries has expanded, and I am now better equipped to become a better library practitioner. The workshop provided me with a wealth of material for learning, knowledge development, and practice.
Note: The pictures used in this blog are captured and shared with me by the Bookworm team