*written June 24, 2008 – copied from www.maggienicaragua.blogspot.com
My past week has been spent revamping the Quinchos library, which included about 200 books enclosed in wooden bookcases, within a small, well lit room. The books were completely disorganized when I arrived, lacking labeled sections or easy access. I saw great potential in“La Biblioteca” and realized so much more could be accomplished beyond buying new books (what it was before we reorganized can be seen to the left).
The librarian, DonaIvana (also my host mother), has been laid back yet excited about my ideas. She has allowed Rose (another Haverford Student) and I to completely reorganize and structure her space. The three of us ventured to Managua to buy posters for the walls, school supplies, and of course, books! (Thank you so much to those who helped me raise the funding for this project. It made all the difference!) We bought an insurmountable number of books, most of which have been read/or looked at by the children as of now.
Rose and I spent two full days, a total of about 16 work hours, sorting, piling, and categorizing the books, the old along with the new. We created categories such as History, Social Sciences, Geography, How to do Things Section, Sports, Math, Science (with sub-sections of Geology, Astronomy, Chemistry, Biology, etc). An entire book case was devoted to children´s books, organized by level of difficulty.
Amongst our organizing were curious children mixing up our piles and occasionally asking for advice on what to read, or “what is this?” (To the left are many of the new books we bought and below is a photo of the organizing process.)
The final result was better than I could have ever imagined. We hung up the posters, put the finishing touches on the library (cleaning, straightening etc), and watched as the kids walked in after school, all of whom marveled at the posters and newfound brightness the room. It is now easy to seek out books from the various sections and the children are more engaged by the light atmosphere. A success!
About 1/3 of the money I raised remains, and now that we have reorganized the library into sections, and have a better idea of the contents, we can spend the rest of the money on the three or four sections that are lacking. It is interesting, in Nicaragua the children do not have their own copies of text books. They travel to school every day, listen to their teachers lecture from the selected textbooks, and are expected to complete their homework without any references.
Many of the Quinchos are fresh off the streets, so they are unable to read or write proficiently. Luckily, the library has taken notice of this issue and has proceeded to buy some of the books that the children use in school for their access during library hours. The library funding from my family and friends has provided about half of the textbooks the library holds, and we are planning to purchase more in the following week.