۳rd Online Meeting of Read with Me Librarians: Children’s cooperation in library management

The 3rd online meeting of Read with Me librarians was held on 3 February 2021. The issue of this meeting was “children’s cooperation in library management”. Librarians from across the country, gathered on amoozak.org online platform and discussed their experiences in having children manage the library and hold read-aloud sessions themselves. A teenage librarian also shared her experiences.

In the beginning, Safura Zavaran, Read with Me Libraries coordinator, spoke of the importance of children’s cooperation in the library. Zavaran explained how it is globally advised to libraries to have older children introduce books to younger ones and read to them. Experience shows that children who have tasted the joy of read-aloud sessions themselves are the best promoters of reading. Following her speech, a librarian spoke of her experience in Javanroud Library.

She explained how they choose child-coordinators: “We explain the responsibilities of child-coordinators to children. They alternately become coordinators and help us in tracking the borrowed books, holding read-aloud sessions, choosing their own creative activities, composing handbooks and o on.” She believes that this responsibility has improved their social and personal skills. For instance, one of the boys wouldn’t talk on his first days of membership. He wouldn’t participate in discussions. “I asked him to help me keep track of the borrowed books and he told me he didn’t know how to and that he would just ruin it.” The librarians however trusted him with the library catalogue.  “After some time, this kid would not only volunteer for this responsibility, but also in other library activities like introducing books, holding read-aloud sessions and so on.” The librarians of this library believe that these activities lead to higher self-esteem and self-confidence. “This made children connect to each other, parents connect to the library and it encouraged children to read. It introduces then to the librarianship vocation, creates a sense of cooperation and provides opportunities to make decisions and improve social skills.”

Then, we had a teenage librarian from Sistan and Balouchestan share her experiences in the online meeting.

A number of Read with Me libraries in small villages have teenage librarians. Helia is one of them. She is a former student of a Read with Me teacher who has been implementing the program in his classes for years. During her student years she was introduced to the Read with Me program through her teacher’s endeavors.

Two Read with Me ambassadors from the Nomadic schools of Zahedan, accompanied Helia out of her small village to the city where she could have access to internet and participate in the online meetings of Read with Me librarians.

In Nomadic villages of Zahedan, most girls cannot continue education higher than elementary school due to a lack of high schools for girls as well as cultural restrictions. Many of these girls are forced to marry young. But Helia is one of the few teenage girls who has been able to pursue education with her teacher’s support. She is now in 8th grade and has been the librarian of RahmatAbad Village’s Read with Me Library for three years.

In the online meeting, she talked about her interaction with children and parents in the library. Through her activities she has built a friendly relationship with the mothers of children that are members of the library. This relationship has prompted holding read-aloud sessions for mothers as well so that she could talk to them about bringing up children and the effect of reading on their lives.

According to Helia, library activities has encouraged a lot of children to continue their studies. Parastou who had dropped out after finishing elementary school is now interested to study again. She is currently in 8th grade.

This meeting has been the third meeting arranged for Read with Me librarians. In these meetings, librarians discuss their challenges, struggles, concerns and opinions. The last two meetings were centered around “Library Activities during a Pandemic” and “Health and safety in Libraries”. This meetings will continue to be held in the future to build a strong network of Read with Me librarians across the country.

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