The newly revamped Bookworm Library in Panaji looks set to keep children addicted to the joys of reading, reports NT BUZZ
CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ
It’s not difficult at all to find the revamped Bookworm Library. All you need to do is listen. Of course, there’s a board out front announcing the new residence, but truth be told, the happy chatter of children could just as easily direct you. Located in the ideal, peaceful and colourful Latin Quarters of Fontainhas, the blue and white edifice which previously housed the old Sarawati Vidyala, the new library promises plenty of fun and educative hours for children. And indeed step into the warm and welcoming premises and one is transported to a paradise of books that will leave even the older folks wishing they were children all over again.
On one side a few children are busy checking out books on the shelf, in another room some of them are engaged in a game of snakes and ladders on a gigantic floor board, a lone young lad is checking out the chessboard in a corner. The walls all around are decked up with some unique works created by the children over the years.
“Each of the library rooms have been categorised based on age groups and are colour coded. Earlier owing to lack of space, we used to have these all in one room,” says one of the teachers, referring to the old library space in Taleigao which consisted of four rooms as opposed to this two storied structure. In fact, it was these space constraints and also the need for a more centralised location which prompted the move to the new premises.
Apart from the age categorised libraries which consist of story books, activity books, picture books and even enlarged books used for read aloud sessions, the space also has an activity room, a hall for conducting performances, talks, workshops, et al and even a library room for adults!
Apart from their main library space, Bookworm Library under the directorship of Sujata Noronha has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception in 2005 and does a few other interesting programmes too.
Chief among these is the Mobile Outreach Programme which came into being in April 2011 where Bookworm takes the library to children in rural parts of Goa who have little access to the joys of books. The facilitators choose a story which the children can relate to and once the tale is read, fun activities centering on the theme of the story are organised. A lending library is also set up with every child who comes for three consecutive sessions. “The whole idea of the programme is to give them a voice to express what they really feel,” explains Niju Mohan of Bookworm Library. “We have noticed that since then these children have become confident readers, they are better able to form sentences and talk confidently in school too. In all it has been really rewarding,” he adds.
Niju has been a part of Bookworm for almost seven years now and enjoys the fact that apart from being able to work with books and children, this is also a way of giving back to the community.
Apart from this, Bookworm also conducts a ‘Libraries in School programme’ where they take the library to government and government aided schools which now have libraries of their own. Some of the schools which have benefited from their work include Auxilium Primary School, Aldona; Mae de Deus School, Corjuem; etc. A one-hour session is usually held once a week for each school and children are also allowed to borrow books from the library. Over the years they have expanded to different parts of Goa, having recently moved into Aldona.
A year ago, the Library Educators Course, supported by Parag, a first-of-its-kind professional development course for librarians, teachers and others who work with children and books was also formulated to help them imagine libraries as innovative creative space open and active.
And although they do face a bit of a problem with regards to fund raising, the resolve to grow and reach out to more children, and spread book magic all around, remains strong.