In summer, alleys around the “Read with Me” library in Khorramabad, like many neighborhoods in different parts of Iran, are filled with the sound of children playing with water, cycling, and playing football.
These children often spend hot summer days in the streets due to lack of recreational and cultural facilities.
Because of Covid-19 pandemic, the “Read with Me” library in Khorramabad has long been missing of children.
The library was stablished in 2017 with the support of the Yara Foundation and collaboration of Lorestan Department of Education.
The Covid-19 pandemic interrupted many of the library’s programs. But Shohreh Koushki, the library’s creative and active librarian, did not stop working.
In April 2021, being helped by two of the library’s teenage collaborators, she launched the “Mobile Library” project to deliver books to the children of the neighborhood.
Every week, the librarian and her accompanying teenagers put library books in bags, take them to library-member children’s homes, and replace new books with the ones from the week before.
Children are virtually in touch with the library and they can inform librarians which titles they are willing to borrow next.
In the library’s virtual group, the librarian introduces books and suggests activities about books to children and families. She also encourages children to take pictures and videos from their book readings and activities and share them in the group.
More than 60 children have been participated in this project and regularly borrowed their favorite books.
In the end of school year the plan became more and more popular and the beginning of summer and Children became more eager to borrow books.
However, due to high number of children, it was very difficult to deliver books to every single house. Again, the librarian took a different innovative approach to this challenge.
And that’s how,
in consultation with “Read with Me” experts, from June 2021, the project “Each Alley, a Librarian” was born in the surrounding neighborhood of the library.
Ms. Koushki appointed one of the teenagers as the library assistant in each alley and assigned them with the responsibility of lending books.
At the beginning of the week, these teenage collaborators would take the bags of books from the library based on the children’s age group in the alley.
Every three days, children visit their alleys’ collaborators and replace their books with new ones.
At weekends books are collected to be replaced with new ones.
In July 2021, “Read with Me” sent each of these teenage collaborators a wall-mounted cloth library so that books could be better accessible to children.
Also, a library assistant card and a hat with the “Read with me” logo have been sent to each of these teenage collaborators to increase their motivation and self-confidence, and to make their work more formal as teenage collaborators of “Read With Me.”
Currently, twelve alleys and more than one hundred members are associated with the library in this way.