Earlier this year, Eleanor Easton and Lauren Tyler, two high school students (both avid readers), were inspired by a trip to Nicaragua to raise money for Puedo Leer. With the help of Eleanor’s mother, Anne, they raised $800 just by reaching out to friends and family, asking each for $10, via email and social media. This Spring they visited us here in Granada and were able to see the community and people who would benefit from their generosity and good work.
Last week, we were able to install the mini-library at Jose de la Cruz Mena school in one of the poorer neighborhoods of the city, El Pantanal.
The installation included a workshop for the teachers and administrators. This particular workshop was also attended by a local police officer, Fernando, and an inmate who are working with us to establish a library in the Granada prison, and two representatives, Carlos and Luis, of SchoolBox, a Canadian NGO that provides school supplies to children, builds schools and is now establishing school libraries in needy communities. All three needed to experience the processing of books for a small library so they would be able to help their own organizations.
Our workshops have three distinct sections: 1) why and how to encourage children to read, 2) how a library is organized and 3)finally the processing of the books coming into their school
We have found it is important to actually talk about books and reading and demonstrate how to read to children. Most of the teachers were not read to by parents or teachers. They need experience being read to and to practice reading themselves. During the day, Ruth, our library administrator, reads three or four books to the group, starting with The Paperbag Princess, a favourite of ours.
As the teachers haven't had much, if any, experience with libraries we have to talk to them about fiction and non-fiction and putting books in alphabetical order by the author's surname (we were recently presented with a very neatly typed list of the books SchoolBox was giving to a school – in alphabetical order by title! We had to explain this was of little or no use to a library). We put out many of our own books for the teachers to group. The teachers are encouraged to look for the overt signs of how we process our books so they can be lent to our members.
The third part of the day is the most exciting and the most work. The teachers get to see what books are coming into their school! Every book then has to have the name of the school either stamped or hand written in it. Every book has to have the first two letters of the author's surname taped on the spine so they can be put on the shelves in alphabetical order, and every book has to be numbered and then listed in a workbook that will be their school library's inventory and use record.
Lunch and refreshments were provided and the community is very grateful for the efforts of Eleanor, Lauren, and Anne.