What is the Community Library’s Core Team?
The Community Library Project’s Core Team has six members—five of them are from the library community, and one is a volunteer. The Core Team was formed recently, modeled on an idea of Mridula Koshy. She brought us all together to carry out a very important responsibility.
Our library’s main focus is to provide something for everyone because it is not just a treasure trove of books, it is also a treasure trove of knowledge. We don’t want our library to be a place where one only reads silently without expressing themselves. We want to give equal opportunity and freedom of expression to everyone. While volunteers focus on Head Start, Lower Group, and Upper Group children to make them understand the importance of books and enhance their reading skills, we, the core team, step in to cater to the youth members of our library and community by organizing trainings and workshops.
What sets the Core Team apart from other volunteers and staff?
We are six young members, who live in the same community where the library is located. We see this society from close quarters and understand its needs. We know that our community lacks in many ways —most importantly in gender equality. Our society believes that men and women are not equal, but we also know that the youth are now beginning to understand that what their elders taught them is wrong. It’s our responsibility to change things so that our next generation doesn’t live in any kind of fear. We guide the youth by organizing gender workshops and related trainings for them. This is so that even if they have a tiny inkling that they are wrong, our community might take another step towards gender equality. We help provide youngsters with ways of transforming themselves. Transformation of the community comes from transformation of the individual.
We have organized various gender workshops with the core team. One of them helped our youth see that people tend to judge each other on the basis of gender. We believe this is wrong. We don’t need to teach anyone to ‘respect’ women. We need them to be human and respect every human being—irrespective of gender. We also did a training session on human rights to make members aware of their rights (because what we study in our textbooks is often incomplete.) A recent talk with the author Annie Zaidi showed us that democracy is often misunderstood as just the right to vote. In reality, it is way more than that. We need our youth to think and have adequate knowledge about democratic processes, so that when they think to raise their voices they know what they are saying. We meet twice a month to discuss what the outcome of such training programs are, and what we do next. Very soon, we plan to provide career guidance because most of our community youngsters are not literate or highly educated. Most of them are first-generation learners, and it’s very difficult for them to access available opportunities.
Every member in our core team is very crucial for us. Jyoti, who is a teacher in the Deepalaya Learning Centre, is familiar with the mothers of her students. She is able to mobilize these women and explain the importance of these trainings. Rinku, who is a dancer by profession, takes time from his busy schedule and helps us to mobilize young boys in our community as he is familiar with most of them. Pooja and Oindrila help mobilize the community by going door to door, handing out fliers, and talking to residents to explain the importance of our trainings. As for me? I am good at mobilizing the community through phone calls. So my job is to call every adult member in our library to talk about our work, explain our modules, and remind them to attend upcoming trainings.