School Library Programme
Two Case Studies
India must move towards equipping every school, irrespective of its level with a library-NCF 2005
These are two Case Studies on School Library which proves the NCF remark on library -which has to
be used as a resource for learning, pleasure and concentration as being implemented. School
libraries have been a subject of policy recommendations for a long time, but the functioning of a library
in the school continues to be a rarity1 taking this as starting point Akshara Foundation began attractive
and functional School Libraries in Government Schools across Bangalore city in 2006-07. An Akshara
library is an attractive ‘happening’ infrastructure in a government school and an additional resource. It
functions out of a room in the school building and pushes the conventional paradigm of a library. The
books range over fairly exhaustive genres - from mythological tales, fiction, drama, plays and fantasy,
to history, nature, sports and wildlife. The concepts in these books, dealt with in an interesting way, are
the very same that are taught in classrooms. The trained librarians at every library make the connection
for children, helping them choose books, read and understand.
Akshara’s school library is not only a treasure trove of books for children, but also a hub of activity
and learning. Essays into art and craft and journeys of the mind take place here. There are computers
which children enjoy learning on and worksheets and workbooks for knowledge-building. Every
library rigorously follows the holistic, academically oriented content and curriculum of the programme.
Regular training of librarians in new techniques of curriculum delivery methods is ongoing, bringing to
the library the savour of new experience, new creative expression and new ways of looking at the
We bring you a profile of two school libraries that exemplify some of the best practices and
benchmarks of the programme.
• The school library at the Government Kannada Model Primary School, Link Road,
Seshadripuram, highlights the scientific rationale of the programme’s content and curriculum,
the monthly calendar of activities for children and the precise gradation of books that has been
developed for the Libraries.
• The school library at the Government Model Primary School, Kamla Nagar, NGO Colony,
focuses on the new techniques of curriculum delivery.
These Case studies emerged as a result of several visits and observations in these two schools between
December 2008 to March 2009. Hours of discussions with the concerned stake-holders- the school
community and the service providers were designed for the purpose. An observation checklist was
designed and semi-structured constructs were prepared. The document is created by the Research,
Documentation and Evaluation Team of Akshara Foundation.
Setting the Context ………
Children’s libraries are a creative nucleus where books, fun, activity Children’s Libraries in India
and learning come together. The repository of books promotes
reading and triggers the imagination. Storytelling enlivens a library Dr. B.C. Roy Children’s Reading
and enraptures children. They enjoy art and craft, the stimulation of Room and Library
intellectual application. The first and largest library
exclusively for children in India is the
For children, school libraries are spaces of exploration, discovery and Dr. B.C. Roy Children’s Reading
personal growth, a vital cornerstone of academic performance. They Room and Library set up in the
open worlds of knowledge and excitement promotes educational Children’s Book Trust, New Delhi, in
development and an intellectual quest, interpret the concept and use 1967. Founded by the noted
of language, nurture social skills and shape personality. Books are cartoonist, K. Shankar Pillai, the
linked to the regular curriculum as a supplement to textbooks, and library houses a collection of 40,000
activities support classroom learning. books, which include a good
repertoire of reference books and
Akshara’s Library Programme how-to-do series in science and
technology. The library is also used
Akshara’s School Library Programme began with a vision. Those for research purposes by artists,
large and expansive, early goals became the benchmarks of the writers, editors and school teachers1.
programme, ceaselessly upgraded and elevated. Standards are
tirelessly raised and performance measured. A Unique Children’s Library
A unique children’s library functions
The library programme has seen exponential growth in the three out of a room in the Dr. A.V. Baliga
years since it began. A hundred new libraries were added in 2008-09. Institute of Russian Studies in
The 366 libraries the programme nowruns serve all 1420 government Bhopal. A library with about 2500
schools in Bangalore. It has around1,50,000 children as members books, it is managed entirely by
and 4.25 lakh books in the system. The rate of issuance is about two children between 8 and 18 years old.
books per child per month. Not every child borrows. Based on this The germ of the idea began when
calculation the library programme issues books to around 1,30,000 eight students collaborated to form a
children at any given time. library when they could not find the
books they wanted to read. It has
Benchmarks become a daring, experimental
concept, making a name for itself in
Akshara’s school libraries were initiated as time-bound, proof of Bhopal, with children handling
concepts, and today, as the programme reaches every child in every everything from administration and
government primary school in issuing of books to canvassing for the
Bangalore, it re-dedicates itself to its mission. library. The user fee is nominal.
• To encourage the reading habit in children Now, the state government would
• To promote thinking, the development of the mind and an like to donate to the children a piece
intelligent curiosity through activity-oriented methods of land to set up their library, an offer
they accept with the clause that there
• To spark the talent embedded in children
An Essential Resource in School be no pre-conditions.
• To link library books and activities to children’s minimum
levels of learning in the classroom
The Library Models
Hubs and Spokes
The State Government’s Department of Education has established lower primary and higher primary schools in
localities, depending on the population of children in that particular habitation. Akshara’s school libraries aligned
themselves with this structure and were designed as hubs and spokes.
A hub can be defined as a physical library room in a government school, with books, racks, furniture, a computer
and reading-oriented activities, all managed by a trained Akshara librarian. Every child in the hub library makes
use of the facility according to a fixed timetable. The librarian at each hub library also serves the children in an
identified set of government schools close by. These schools are called the spoke library schools of the given hub
Virginia Walter, past president of the Association for Library Service to Children, emphasises the importance of
person-to-person outreach, and exhorts children's librarians to design services for "the child in the community"
and communicate to children "the importance, the relevance, and the excitement of reading1."
It is no coincidence that Akshara’s School Library Programme trains librarians to be inspirers and motivators.
Librarians are the backbone of Akshara’s School Library Programme. They are the purveyors of knowledge in the
libraries, guiding children along a path of enlightened learning. They convey to children the content and
curriculum of the programme, engage them in activities, introduce them to concepts and encourage their talent and
Meeting Programme Parameters
The Hub Library in Seshadripuram
The School The Library
Tucked away from a busy, arterial thoroughfare in Akshara’s school library here, which began in
Bangalore, the Government Kannada Model Primary 2003, is a motivational place for children, with
School in Seshadripuram nestles quietly in a side a librarian who is energetic and spirited. It is a
street lined with trees. The forecourt is filled with hub library, meeting programme benchmarks
the clamour and excitement of children, an early and one of the best in Akshara Foundation’s
prelude before morning classes. The school is in the School Library Programme. It has a
Seshadripuram cluster in the North 2 Block of membership of 189 children from Std. II to
Bangalore Urban District. It has a strength of 230 Std. VII. From 2008-09, this hub library also
children, most of whom spill out in the sunshine, serves three spokes with 53 children as
talking and laughing and playing. Each class has members.
about 25-30 children, and teaching them are 9
teachers. The library is large, neat and uncluttered,
holding 2950 books in Kannada and English.
With facilities like a toilet, drinking water, The atmosphere is colourful, bright and
electricity and midday meals for children, the school cheerful. A note of welcome on the blackboard
is not lacking in infrastructure. It enjoys the support bordered with flower-tipped tendrils makes it
of the Rajasthan Youth Association and children, inviting. There are charts on the walls,
whose learning level is average, get the additional paintings by children, collages of water, leaves
benefit of teaching learning material from some and other everyday things, and books and
NGO. drawings strung on cords above, cutting
diagonally across the ceiling. On desk-tops,
above the book shelf and at a strategic corner
are the artistic endeavours of both librarian and
Coverage of GKMPS Link Road Sheshadripuram Library
Name of School Model(Library type) Total Membership
GKMPS Link Road Sheshadripuram Hub 230
GUHPS SC ROAD Sheshadripuram Spoke 57
GKLPS Police Colony Spoke 28
GULPS Old Sewarilane Sheshadripuram Spoke 20
The library period is factored into the school’s timetable for each class. The time set apart emerges out of
consensus, with the HMs and teachers of a school allocating a period that suits everyone’s convenience. A
systematic procedure is followed for issuing books to children in their Library periods. It addresses the
• Providing children with equitable access to the entire range of content
in the libraries
• Systematic and accurate recording of data relating to book transactions
• Forming impressions about every child’s reading ability with the
intent of guiding him/her to read better 4
• Early identification of potential drop-out children
• Maintaining order in the classroom during the issue process
The Librarian Roles and responsibilities of a Librarian
The librarian, Dhanalakshmi G., is full of • The overall management of libraries and complete
enthusiasm. Friendly and warm to visitors, she is responsibility of the library service in the schools that come
ready with information and participates wholly in under them
an exchange. She is an experienced resource • Reading all the books in the library to improve their own
person, having been a librarian for four years. She knowledge, to get a concrete understanding of the books they
is currently completing her eighth year with have and what they can recommend to children.
• Creating an interest in reading among all children
• Levelling and labelling the books in the library
• Issuing books once in fifteen days and conducting activities
Dhanalakshmi’s day begins at 8.50 in the morning
suggested by the library resource team, thereby capturing and
when she opens her library door and walks in. It retaining children’s interest in the library which, in turn,
ends at 3 in the afternoon when the last of the promotes their development
children have left and school closes. Her first task • Maintaining records in both hard and soft copies of all the
of the day is to sweep the library and spruce things children in their library and the books in the library
up. • Providing identity cards and issuing books to all children of
their libraries, both hubs and spokes
Any disorder left from the previous day is tidied. • Interacting periodically with HMs, school staff and parents,
Books are arranged in their slots building a relationship with them and enlisting their
and things are put back in place. cooperation
Transactions on Typical month*
Name of School No. Of children borrowed Books circulated
GKMPS Link Road Sheshadripuram 120 150
GUHPS SC ROAD Sheshadripuram 30 33
GKLPS Police Colony 12 12
GULPS Old Sawarilane Sheshadripurum 12 12
Source: March 2009 Status Report
Organising and Record Keeping keeping is neat and
organised and follows the
Dhanalakshmi is free during the first two periods. That is when she organises rules laid down by the
herself. She looks at her timetable to see when children will come and from which class they will be. She
programme. She maintains
keeps books ready for them. She has a Notice Board pinned up on the wall with on a regular basis a Central
details of the number of books, the number of children from each class, Data of Books, the Pratham
library-related documents and the membership in her hub and spoke schools. reports, the Membership
Dhanalakshmi then enters her records into the computer, especially the File, the Stocktaking Book of
Circulation Book details, a book that carries every child’s data. She says inventory, the Visitors’ Book
she first makes a rough draft, which then goes into the Circulation Book, and the Library Daily
Register, a book referred to
from where she transfers it into her system.
every day. Dhanalakshmi
finds that individual sheets
Shobha S. at Level I in Std. II, for example, has borrowed: of paper get dog-eared and
Book Borrowed on Returned on frayed at the edges in
Line and Circle 28-6-2008 3-7-2008 bulging files, so she has
The Seed 3-7-2008 8-7-2008 bought large, hard-bound
Up and Down 20-7-2008 24-7-2008 books into which she enters
Balagalu 26-7-2008 30-7-2008
Koosumari 13-7-2008 18-7-2008
Who am I? 1-8-2008 6-8-2008
Books and their Arrangement
The 2950 books in Kannada and English.in this hub library are arranged according to the GROWBY Reading colours
of green, red, orange, white, blue and yellow, whose first letters make the acronym. It is a book grading system
provided by Hippocampus Reading Foundation with which the library programme partners to bring innovative
content and curriculum methods into libraries.
The colours denote the levels of children. G or green is the first level and books meant for this level have a green band
across the spine. They have simple sentences for children, easy to read and follow. The grades progress with the
colours, the books getting more advanced. The next step is red, orange after that and upwards it goes till yellow, the
Books are on separate shelves, depending on their colour. They are not crowded together, but stand alone in groups of
three and four or rest against the walls of the shelves. There is room around them for manoeuvre, allowing children
movement and easy handling.
The Membership and Levelling Book which Dhanalakshmi maintains has square blocks of GROWBY colours against
children’s names. This book records their six-monthly progress. The relevant box of colour gets marked as children
climb this ladder of colours from sentence to paragraph to fuller text.
From Librarian’s Diary
School Name Days Period 1 to 8
GKMPS Link Road Monday Documentation And Class 4 Class 6 Class 3 Entry, Chart Making.
Tuesday - - - Class 3 Class 7 Service To Sc Road School
Wednesday - - Class 2 Class 3 - Class 5 Service To Old
Thursday - - - - Class 5 Class 1 Class 7 Class 6
Friday - - Class 1 - Class 2 Class 3 Class 7 Class 4
Saturday - - Class 5 Class 6 HRF Activities And Computers
GUHPS SC Road Tuesday - - - - - Class 3 to 7
GULPS Old Sewarilane Wednesday - - - - - - Class 3 to 5
GKLPS Police Colony Thursday Class 1& 2 Class 3 Class 4 Class 5 - - - -
A Library Period Starts
There are two library periods in a week. One period is for books and the NCF 2005 suggests that
stories they tell and the other for activities and the lively involvement they one period a week to be
generate. The spoke schools do not have an activity period. devoted to Library
reading. During this time,
Dhanalakshmi takes books from the hub library for distribution among children sit and read
children of the spoke schools. silently in the library.
They return the books
A typical period starts with a mind-freshener, an activity that relaxes borrowed the previous
and unburdens children’s minds and prepares them for the library period. week and borrow new
Dhanalakshmi gets children to sit in a U-shaped group, she engages ones.
them in small talk and some free conversation. What did you eat for
lunch? What did you study in class today? Did you read your library The document further
book yesterday? If their answer to this last question is yes she encourages suggests integrating the
them to come forward and tell the story. Or else, she hands out the same knowledge acquired
book to them to read in class and children study the story, write it down during the library period
and discuss it with their friends. Then Dhanalakshmi calls them one at with the classroom
a time to enter their circulation data. learning and thereby
and constructing the
The Librarian and her Children knowledge of the child.
Dhanalakshmi’s relationship with children is conversational. Communication channels are always open,
she says. They respond to her just the way she reaches out to them. Children and she are family members,
she says, no fear permeating the bond. Children obey her and that happens because of her temperament.
She is pleasant but firm, mild but gently authoritative. Dhanalakshmi holds the attention of her class. A
few children on the fringes do get distracted, occasionally slipping in concentration, but they never disrupt
the class, and eventually do reconnect with her.
Name Of School Model(Library Type) Days Covered Activities
Gkmps Link Road Sheshadripuram HUB Monday Borrow
Thursday HRF Activities
Guhps Sc Road Sheshadripuram SPOKE Tuesday Borrow
Gulps Old Sewarilane Sheshadri SPOKE Wednesday Borrow
Gklps Police Colony SPOKE Thursday Borrow
The visible outcomes!
Children Tell a Story
Std. VI children are a spirited group with keen minds and artistic skills. All library members are present and they are
keen to tell a story.
Bhoomika, a bright child, comes up without inhibition to talk about the sun that rose one morning to find everyone
asleep. Even the cock had not given its wake-up call. Dhanalakshmi asks her to crow like a cock. The colour rises in her
face and she shyly complies. Bhoomika continues with the story. The sun is caught wondering whether he has lost all
his powers when the moon taps him on the shoulder and he wakes up to find he had been dreaming. It is dawn, and he
gets up and reports to work, shining brightly upon the world.
Bhoomika’s narration of this story, Sooryanakopa, in Kannada is fluent. She enjoys it, there is nothing holding her back.
Bhoomika does have some trouble with the author’s name. It is a long name and she finds it is complicated.
Dhanalakshmi helps her out and gets the class to repeat after her. Dhanalakshmi also has to prompt Bhoomika to
accompany her story with actions. She smiles bashfully when asked to imitate the sun’s snores.
Soundarya folds her arms across her chest as she tells her story. Dhanalakshmi tells her that actions and physical
elucidation would elicit audience participation. Soundarya rouses herself to action. She is quick with her story, never
once breaking up in hesitation.
Dhanalakshmi tells children that one of the first things they should do when they get a book in hand is to feel it, sense it,
look at the cover, the colours, notice the title, the author, the illustration, and observe if it is published by Pratham.
The Librarian Tells a Story
Now it is Dhanalakshmi’s turn to tell a story. Children’s faces are rapt, Bhoomika and Soundarya completely immersed,
as their librarian narrates the story of the mynah who longs to fly high. She waves her arms in flight, or crouches in fear.
Her voice has inflection in it, lowered and trembling, or powerful and longing. Children are engrossed, paying attention;
even they are attentive whose minds had slipped away. Some of them laugh spontaneously or chuckle throatily as they
watch and listen. Dhanalakshmi concludes her story telling by asking questions about the mynah. She asks children the
moral of the story. A lot of them have ready answers.
Dhanalakshmi is also an innovator, as the library programme has taught her to be. She says she gives children a teaser
sometimes. She begins by reading two pages of a story, and then stops abruptly when enjoyment is peaking and tells
children to borrow the book and take it home. The child who is able to narrate the whole story during the next library
period is given a small reward.
Training in Storytelling
Like all other librarians, Dhanalakshmi participates in the training in storytelling techniques by Kathalaya, another
organisation with which Akshara partners for effective curriculum delivery. Voice modulation is an important
aspect of the course.
Kathalaya’s training in storytelling has been helpful in bringing out the expressive capabilities of librarians,
Dhanalakshmi says. A bird’s cry or the sound of a snore makes a story so much more impressive and real. She has
learnt to bring tone to voice, to divulge emotion – fear, delight, desire, as in the story of the mynah. Children begin
to identify emotions and understand them. Dhanalakshmi says she was taught how to act out a story. A library
period, therefore, becomes vivid in children’s minds, she says.
Before, she used to read two or three pages of a book, then children would draw pictures pertaining to that chapter
or segment to grasp the story better. This new Kathalaya method draws children into the story more vigorously, she
The Library Programme has many activities for children. Here are a few that Dhanalakshmi personally enjoys
doing with children.
There is a monthly calendar of exercises for children like: Find the Vowels, Reading/Lending, Odd One Out,
Check Your Bill, Spot and Re-do, How do you Feel? Mind Your Manners. The calendar has a bit of everything
from behaviour management and practical tips for daily living to stretching the frontiers of learning. If children of
a particular class complete this calendar in a month, Dhanalakshmi gets it signed by the Headmaster as official
recognition of the effort.
Dhanalakshmi gives children a jumble of pictures that, when sorted and pasted, unfold the story they have
discussed. Children have to arrange them in sequence and stick them on sheets of paper and narrate the story,
keeping an eye on the pictures they have put together.
Imagination is another activity. Dhanalakshmi gives children topics like My School, A Bus Stand or A Provision
Store. They paint the scene, their reality as imaginative as their young minds. This is not all. Children have to write
what they observe and be as descriptive as they can. One stipulation is correct spelling. Dhanalakshmi insists on it.
A Creative Hub
Dhanalakshmi’s hub library is a burst of creativity. Once a year, the library programme has a competition in story
writing for children – a story from any book they have read. These compositions are a synchronisation of creative
skills, literary aptitude and handwriting abilities. Each child tries to outperform the other with decorative front
pages, painted margins and floral designs. Bhoomika has a subtly designed first page introduction to her neatly
written story, and Manjula’s script is beautiful.
Dhanalakshmi and the children are creators both, turning the ordinary into ingenious art. Dhanalakshmi has made
puppets, which she uses in storytelling, a golden chair, a ribbed basket with newspaper, all painted and attractive.
Particularly striking is her artistic turnaround of the common water bottle.
As for the children, they are adept at mud painting; they stick glittering sequins on the outlines of insects and
flowers and use lentils in art. Nothing is wasted. Pencil shavings morph into colourful flowers and a used
toothbrush is the tool for spray painting.
Children Interact Feedback from Teachers
What do children, the focus of the library programme, feel? They Susheelamma, class teacher of Std.
are happy to come to the library. It is inspiration being here, they VI, endorses the efficacy of the
say. They feel free, there are enjoyable things to do, without the programme in improving
pressure of the classroom and work targets to be achieved. children’s writing. That is one of
Children say they feel sleepy in class, that here, in the library, the first things she says about the
they enjoy themselves. library programme. Children read
better because of it, she says, focus
• Manjula says she likes the library period very much. better. Speaking skills have
There are so many activities that she gets to do, she gets improved and overall
to use the computer, she gets to know and understand it. communication has shown an
She is more keen on the creative arts like drawing and upward trend. Vinuta, class teacher
painting, but likes a good story - Mantrika Podi (Magic of Std. II, says it is a good
Powder) for instance. She says she can learn better in programme. Children of Std. II do
class because of her library activities. Project work gets not get books to read, the standard
easier. is too high for them. They get
cards with alphabets and simple
• Rajeshwari too says she relishes the opportunity to words, which ingrain the basics of
draw. She invests the skills she polishes up here in her language in them. They also draw
project work in class. Manjula can sing and tell a story. and paint, she says.
She finds it easier to read her textbook; lessons do not
seem as dense as before. Topics in science like day and Teachers sometimes ask
night are simpler, now that they have been taught at the Dhanalakshmi, “What magic do
library. Among books, Vikrama Vethala is her favourite. you wield at the library that
She can say a lot about those stories, she says. Her own children don’t like being in class?”
ideas go into them while she tells them. They request her to be at the
library during school hours.
Teachers say the library exercises
• Bhoomika says she enjoys working on her worksheets.
powerful influence over children
Concepts like the solar system, the planets, the eclipses,
and without it they cannot control
are dealt with interestingly in the library and so she has
no trouble understanding the subject in class. Bhoomika
says participating in the library period helps her
concentrate better in class and understand better. She
enjoys the different kinds of books the library has, the
variety and the scope, the books on science and the
poets. Panchatantra, Koo Koo Ghadihara, Appa Banda
and Mantrika Podi are some of her favourite books. She
finds the library very interesting, she says, with a look of
deep satisfaction. Her role model is her library teacher,
Dhanalakshmi. Bhoomika wants to be able to act like
her teacher and be able to control and modulate her
voice like her.
Official Commitment to the Library Programme
The Headmaster of the school, Thope Gowda, is committed to the library programme in his school. It is a
very good programme, he says. Teachers like it and above all, it benefits children. They are getting
familiar with words and can identify the meanings of those words from the context in which they appear.
They can read sentences on their own. Children enjoy the pictures in story books, which convey an
understanding of the story and the situation. Children learn in the process. The library has all kinds of
books and extra activities that are so useful. He says he knows about the exercise sheets children get to
do in the library and the GROWBY Reading method of marking children’s levels.
Thope Gowda says that he realises the importance of the Akshara library, which is why he has given the
programme a room in his school and, most importantly, two periods a week for each class. With the
school’s timetable on his table, he points emphatically to the time he has allotted to the library
The Eventual Handover
Akshara’s plan is to hand over the charge of libraries to school managements in the foreseeable future.
The library programme cannot be a long-term engagement, it has to eventually become a school
Dhanalakshmi is of the opinion that the involvement of teachers in the programme is crucial, prior to
handing over the library. A compulsory notification from the Department of Education to the HM would
help in absorbing the programme into the school system. The HM and teachers are categorical that they
are not ready to assume ownership of the library programme. They have no complaints if the library can
function without too much hands-on management. They are not willing to take the programme forward
without Akshara if it is going to take too much of their time, energy and commitment.
A Place of Growth
Parents endorse the library, they are deeply appreciative of
Dhanalakshmi’s work. They do not often visit the library, but
are aware of the components of the library, how it is effectively
making learners of their children.
For children the library is a place of ideas, of creative growth and
learning. They find it a place where they can experiment with abandon,
do different things, expand their horizons and seek the fulfilment not
always available in a classroom. It holds good for Dhanalakshmi too.
She says she is learning so much, all the time - reading a host of books
and doing all kinds of activities. It keeps her on her toes thinking about what she can
do next that would appeal to children.
The Second Case Study
The Hub Library in Kamla Nagar
The school library at the Government Model Primary
The Government Model Primary School in School in Kamla Nagar is one of the oldest
Kamla Nagar, NGO Colony, is at the edge of functioning libraries of Akshara Foundation’s library
the city it would seem, large and extensive, programme. It began in 2003 and has 582 members
sheltered by large-canopied trees. The school today. The library is open to children from Std. II to
is located in the Kurubarahalli cluster in VII, but children of Std. I also attend, to play, to take
North 1 Block in Bangalore Urban District. part in activities and observe. It has one spoke with 40
There is a hush here of children occupied in children as members. The hub library has 2900 books
classrooms. The school has a strength of 582 in Kannada and English.
children and 13 teachers. Each class has
about 45-50 children. Their learning level, Name Of School Model Membership
teachers say, is good. Children prefer to learn GKMPS Hub 658
in Kannada, though the school is now Kamalanagar
planning to introduce English to give them
GKLP Spoke 40
the cutting edge. The school is equipped with
a toilet. There is electricity. Children have
the provision of drinking water and midday
The library room is spacious and can accommodate a
meals, and teachers regularly undergo
large assembly of children. Computers bring a
programme-oriented training. The school has
contemporary, modern-world flavour to the learning
a very supportive School Development and
experience. Collages are up on the walls of sports
Monitoring Committee whose members take
personalities, celebrities and leaders, a team effort by
a personal interest and are actively involved
Farhana Banu, the librarian, and the children. They
in the school’s activities.
ideate, discuss and create together. Posters of
vegetables and fruits have a hand-written description
Library Time Table
Name of School Model Days Activities
covered 1st week 2nd week 3rd week 4th week Every Saturday
GKMPS Kamalanagar HUB Monday Borrow Referral Return & HRF -
to Friday Borrow activities,
GKLPS Vrishabhavathinagara SPOKE Saturday - - - - Borrow and
Name of School Model TOTAL No. Of No. Of No. Of No. Of TOTAL
BOOKS books children books children books
Referred referred borrowed borrowed circulated
Gkmps Kamalanagar HUB 2684 1166 583 583 583 1749
Gklps Vrishabhavathinagara SPOKE - 120 40 80 40 200
* Data is as of 2009 March
Profile of the Librarian
Working with Children – Farhana Banu
A Space for Herself
Farhana Banu is the librarian at the school library in the Government Model Primary School in Kamla
Nagar, NGO Colony. She has personality. She dares to be original, pushing cautiously the edges of
convention to create space for herself.
Farhana used to be a teacher at a convent school when Akshara Foundation came for a community
survey in her area. Its representative gave her the first whiff of oppo
rtunity. Would she like to work in a government school? Farhana agreed, warily and with pre-
conditions. Life was bound by traditional caveats. In her neighbourhood women rarely, if ever, ventured
out of their homes. It just so happened that the convent was close to Farhana’s house.
But Farhana took up Akshara’s offer and ran a successful Akshara balwadi from home for two years. It
led to other openings, other avenues. A Bridge course for children and a stint as a mobile librarian
strengthened this dignified, thirty two year-old lady’s natural bond with children. Besides, success felt
good, she says.
Never Looking Back
Slowly, work weaned her out of home. Akshara persuaded her to do more with her talent, her flair and
her capacity. The children she met requested her to visit their government schools, and she decided to
give it a try. It was an experimental trip of self-assessment, of evaluating a government school
environment that brought her to the Government Model Primary School in Kamla Nagar in 2003. How
would she fit in? Would full-time work counteract domestic life?
It goes without saying that Farhana has been the librarian of this school library ever since, never once
looking back. She has found fruition in the midst of children; she enjoys being with them. Children, she
says, are innocent and open, clear in their minds. There is no dishonesty or dissembling there. They are
A Presence at School
Her library children are mostly first generation learners and that imposes a special delicate responsibility
on Farhana. A balance that has to be struck - she has to be gentle and strict at the same time. Too much
or too little can tilt the equation. Farhana practices a nuanced approach. Too mild and she may never get
taken seriously, too strict and children might never come again to school. The library is the nucleus of
their school life. Their attendance regular because of it, and Farhana is at the centre of it, motivational,
encouraging and supportive.
Farhana is quite a presence at school, her rapport with children, the Headmistress and teachers
assiduously cultivated. The respect she receives in school and the endorsement of her community are
vital to her self-esteem. In her neighbourhood they say that when Farhana walks in, it is with a group of
fifteen or twenty children clustering around her sari-clad figure. This is such an extraordinarily light-
hearted feeling, she says about her work. Ordinary jobs create so many tensions.
Storytelling as an Educational Tool Role Play by Children
Storytelling is an effective teaching tool and medium of
communication. It furthers education through drama and flair,
the creation of imagery, building understanding and meaning
with sounds, gestures and the use of puppets. The tone of the
voice has to be vibrant and resonant, it must be malleable and
pliant, surging and forceful or a subdued sub-text. The whole
teaching-learning ambience then becomes more conducive.
At the training in storytelling techniques Farhana got to know
how to use gestures to draw the attention of children.
Characterisation, she learnt, is the lifeline of a story, face,
voice, gesture and body posture aiding the projection. Each
character has to be delineated differently, so they stand out New Techniques
distinctly and apart. Being creative and allowing freedom for
spontaneity and quick improvisation are qualities she as a The new techniques of storytelling by
storyteller must draw from deep within herself. Kathalaya and Vijayalakshmi
Nagaraj and the Hippocampus
As a story prop, puppetry takes the storytelling experience to Reading Foundation’s worksheets
another dimension altogether. A puppet introduced at story time enrich a library session.
throws open possibility. It becomes the character, with a name
and identity. Children are absorbed by its persona, imagining Hippocampus Reading Foundation is
sequences of their own. In her library now, Farhana tells them burnishing content delivery,
the story and children choreograph the episodes with puppets upgrading activities and providing
and role plays and characterizations. The method used to be worksheets to selected libraries, and
different before. Farhana had to prepare children for a story. It this hub library is one of them.
seemed like hard work, as she tried to embellish and embroider Kathalaya and Vijayalakshmi
and create sequences that would retain attention. Children never Nagaraj specialise in storytelling
listened with so much curiosity either. Concentration wavered, techniques. They believe it is a way
interest flickered and children could not stay connected to the of learning for children, a method by
story. They would be mere onlookers, watching, not immersing which libraries become interesting
themselves. She had to do the work of assigning them roles, tell places. They support the capacity
them what to do. It was like spoon-feeding listless children. building of librarians, growing their
skills in delivering content.
Now, children read stories all by themselves. Farhana only has Kamalanagar Librarian is one among
to tell them to organise themselves and they pick the group for a many who have been trained in this
role play and select the puppets, imagination set free. Every technique.
story spawns new paintings, new drawings, new ideas, and a
surge of puppet-making. The library has become a more
creative place. It is like an implosion, something has triggered.
Soujanya, Arpitha and Shilpa from Std. V and Manjunath and Bharatha from Std. IV come forward to act a story
they have created themselves. They rush around quietly getting the props and puppets, discuss sotto voce what each
of them should be doing, glance self-consciously at the audience and get started. Venkatesh and Manjunath come
centrestage and stand with their hands crossed over their heads, holding aloft an imaginary roof. Arpitha is the
grandfather, with the stick puppet of an old man; it is a clever disguise.
Soujanya and Shilpa are young children playing and cavorting. The grandfather admonishes them not to while away
their time, tells them to read books. The children go first to a library to borrow a book. Then they trot off to a
bookstore nearby and buy the book they are looking for. The next scene shows them reading in the stillness of an
afternoon, lounging in a chair or sprawled on the floor.
Reading over, they go to their grandfather who demands a story from them. Soujanya and Arpitha hold a puppet
each, representing the characters in the story, and begin their act. Even without appropriate voice modulation the
children carry off the story well, manoeuvring the puppets and telling their lines with skill. Soujanya is
• Arpitha of Std. V. “There’s sudden energy when puppets are used in storytelling. All of us talk together.
We remember the parts very well when we hold a puppet in our hands. The characters are impressed on
our minds. Children in the audience watch us with interest and curiosity. They focus on the story. When
there are no puppets, the rest of the class doesn’t know what we are saying. Only we know, and that is not
a very happy situation. There is no convergence of minds.”
From Stake holder’s Desk
In Farhana’s library children are keen users of the Hippocampus Reading Foundation’s activity worksheets. They
are interested in the numbered drawings and in identifying objects and colouring them as instructed.
• Soujanya of Std. V says, “We have learnt a lot from the worksheets. We never knew what an aeroplane
ticket is, or a bus ticket for that matter. We had to fill in the details on a worksheet and for the first time
we knew. We got to know of crosswords. We don’t get newspapers at home, so we never knew what they
meant. With the worksheets we have become more aware.”
Librarian’s Time Table
School Name Days covered Period 1 to Period 8
GKMPS Kamalanagar Monday - 7th A 3rd B 5th B 2nd A 4th B -
Tuesday 7th B 7th A - th
5 B - 3rd A -
Wednesday 7th B 7th A th
5 A th
5 B 6th A - 6th B
Thursday - 4th A 5th A - 6th A - 6th B
Friday - 4th B th
5 A - 6th A 1st 6th B
GKLPS Vrishabhavathinagara Saturday - 5th 4th 2nd and - - -
“So Much that is Accessible now” “Our Work Becomes Easier”
Children enjoy their library period. A bright • S.K. Suvarna, who has been the
intelligence shines on faces as they respond to Headmistress of the school for the last
questions, crowd around Farhana and decide seven years says, “With a library here,
together what they will do with the time they have children have so much to read about so
in the library. many different topics. They understand
much more than they used to.”
• Says Shilpa of Std. III, “I enjoy taking
books from the library and reading.” She • Mangala Sadalage, class teacher of Std.
has written the story, ‘Our Beautiful V B, says, “The library has many
Peacock’ in neat, large Kannada words, the varieties of books, and stories that are
complex construction of the letters hardly a never similar. Children are happy to
deterrent. Her script is flawless and she read and exchange notes and draw
reads from it without difficulty. comparisons between the stories they
have read. They are keen to read a story
• Arpitha of Std. V says, “What I like about and write it down. Their writing skills
the library is that there are no shackles. have improved. They take more interest
We do things out of choice, not coercion. in class, their focus is sharper. Library
We don’t have the money to buy the books and classroom become parallel streams
we need for our school projects, but we of study. We have a good librarian as
get them from the library – the stories, the well, who teaches through activities.
pictures, the knowledge. We never knew Our work becomes easier.”
what a library was. Now we know so many
things. We had never heard of computers Parents say they are happy to see their
before, we had never seen one. Now we children learning well and working at
learn and play on it. There is so much computers like in private schools.
that is accessible now.”
• Soujanya of Std. V. “What I like about my
library is that the most fluent readers
amongst us were taken on a trip to
Cubbon Park, Fun World, the
Farhana Banu feels that handing over the library to the
school management will increase the responsibility
load of teachers. It will make them more responsible
Peer learning takes place in the Library! too, but the same quality of activities cannot be
expected in the library room. The HM and teachers are
ambivalent about this future, saying that they say they
depend on orders from the Department of Education.
However, she is aware that ultimately library has to be
integrated with the learning efforts in the school and
teachers should use the facility as an enriching
Measuring the Leaning outcomes through Case Studies
• Impact of the school library on broader aspects of learning, such as attitude to
learning, personal confidence, social development, enrichment of the
curriculum and recreational or non-directed learning was witnessed during the
observations in these schools.
• The anecdotes also help us to establish the link between school libraries and
enrichment of the learning experience within the curriculum.
• The data on reference and borrowings definitely indicate that children have
cultivated the taste for reading.
• The feedback from teachers also shows that the functional library filled with
activities helps the teacher in strengthening the classroom teaching process.
• The computers in school have made the community proud of the school.
• These two libraries have created a space for creative writing as well for the
• These libraries have demonstrated that the school library has a role within
whole school efforts to encourage or improve cross-curricular or extra-
• The trainings like Kathalaya and HRF have certainly raised the level of
confidence in the librarians and the quality of activities in the library.
• As a teacher mentioned in one of the schools, library has helped children
connect with the wider world.
• Lastly, but not the least the libraries have helped the Librarians to grow in their