We are now one day away from the opening of the library. All of the remaining supplies have arrived – books, stools, tables, sofas, carpet, artwork, cabinets, games, toys, crayons, pens, pencils, erasers, DVD’s, dustbins – you name it. We have spent the day arranging the bookshelves and doing the final touches.
The assembly team is much bigger now. We have teachers and students, parents and children. Canadian and Kenyan. Young and old. The past few weeks of setting up have proved to be invaluable, and we have learned lessons that we will most definitely be applying to future projects:
1. The input from children is critical. They know how they want to browse a library, what they can reach for, and when they will get bored. They can tell you where they would want to curl up and read quietly, and where they would want to do group work. Listen.
2. Proper cataloguing is essential. Without it, no matter how nicely you set up the shelves, when someone takes a book out, they won’t know where to put it back. Multiply this by a classroom full of kids and you have a mess.
3. Never underestimate the importance of an area for leisure reading. All you need are some sofas and a soft carpet. Or even bean bags – they are a huge hit. The kids will pile up so much you won’t be able to figure out who’s arms and legs belong to whom. But they will all be reading, quietly.
4. The library is just as exciting and important to the teachers as it is to the students. Walk them through it, show them all of the resources. Ask them questions. Their feedback is what will make the library relevant. After all, it is ultimately the teachers that will be directing the students to use the library and its contents.