What We Do

One of the central goals of the Community Library Project is to act as a lab for teaching and learning, a place where we discover, refine, and share ideas about how to successfully run community libraries in the diverse areas we work in.

Though we always say we are ‘free and open to all,’ we understand that we reach only a few thousand of the millions of people in Delhi--to say nothing of India as a whole--who do not have access to excellent community libraries. By ourselves, we won’t solve that problem. But by proving community libraries can work and work well, it is our hope that when the leaders of our city and our country finally do take up the task of funding and building libraries in serious way, no one will say, ‘It can’t be done here.’

Of course it can be done; we’re already doing it.

There are many ideas that animate our project, but from a curriculum standpoint, our aim is simple: we want to develop strategies and practices that allow and encourage library members to engage meaningfully and thoughtfully with books and the ideas they hold. Yes, this kind of reading will make for better students and more effective workers. Yes, it will strengthen our communities and our democracy. But in the end, we are doing this because we think access to books and the ideas in them--is a basic human right.

We do not pretend to have all the answers about how to run a community library, but we’ve learned a great deal over the past few years about what works, and what doesn’t. Though many of the ideas and resources we present here are works-in-progress, they are all educationally sound and, unless otherwise noted, have been field-tested in our program.

What you won’t find here, at least not yet, are resources for teaching children or adults how to read letters and words. That is important work, and someday we hope to contribute to it. For now, we depend on the schools around us to do that job--and in many cases they do it reasonably well.

But there is a difference between being functionally literate--able to decode words well enough to fill out a form or even pass a test--and being literate in a way that allows us think about ourselves, our communities, and the world around us in deep and meaningful ways. Given our limited resources, up until now, we’ve focussed on this second kind of literacy work.

Our curriculum resources fall into two main categories:

All of our curriculum resources are open source: while we appreciate acknowledgement of our work, because it helps us meet interesting people, all are welcome to use, adapt and share any of the resources found here. And if you have ideas to share, we’d love to hear from you!

The Community Library Project
Ramditti J R Narang Deepalaya Learning Center
B-65, Panchsheel Vihar,
Delhi, India
Illustrations provided by Priya Kurien.
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