Community Libraries are established by GMRVF in select villages not only to re-introduce the habit of reading but also to provide opportunity for lifelong learning. These small libraries reach out to children, youth and adults, encouraging them to develop reading habits. The young and the aged come together at the libraries and this opportunity is also used to strengthen awareness on various issues in the communities. Currently, Foundation runs 59 libraries across various locations. A list of books with wide-ranging appeal to children, youth, older people, women etc. is identified in discussion with the community and purchased by the Foundation. A system has been worked out for proper circulation of these books among the communities. On an average, about 20 -30 people access each library daily.
- The community libraries have been successful in encouraging reading habits in not just the youth and children but also in older and adult community members.
- There has been increased community participation as well. Many community members come forward to donate books and magazines for the library.
- The libraries are slowly becoming centers for strengthening local community participation in the community development.
- Foundation tries to improve the reading habit through reading competitions, celebrations of important days like Book Day etc.
Mobile Community Libraries at Ramdurg*
It is a bright evening in Hannumsagra, a small interior hamlet in the Ramdurg Taluk of Karnataka. A group of children, women and senior citizens is waiting patiently for the weekly exchange of books. In a short while, the mobile library on a bicycle arrives and the atmosphere is full of excitement. The librarian patiently attends each one, gives books, reads aloud the news and conducts a few games for the children. After an hour or so, the mobile library moves through the muddy country road to Ujjinkoppa, another hamlet which lies 2 km. away from Hannumsagra. These remote villages did not have any access to even newspapers and magazines. It was this observation and discussions with the community on solutions to this problem that led to the idea of mobile libraries. The mechanism is simple. A volunteer uses a cycle to carry different kinds of books to the designated locations. The volunteer reaches selected spots in the villages where people congregate for the exchange of books.
Each day, four mobile libraries carrying boxes of books set off to various hamlets of GMRVF’s project villages in Haliyal and Ramdurg in Karnataka, where few people have ever visited a library. The librarians narrate stories, organize games for children, read out religious books, cut important news and read them out on every Saturday. GMRVF records show that in a short span of two years, there has been a huge 45% increase in the readership in these areas. Seeing this reading revolution, people from the nearby villages also have started asking for books and periodicals. Raju, one of the mobile library volunteers, is differently abled and uses his tricycle to carry books to various locations. The success of mobile libraries is measured by the queries and interest of the communities and the community members from these villages who say ‘it is simply a wonderful service’.