The changing role of community libraries: emerging centres for sustainable development

SHRESTHA, Sanjana (2013) The changing role of community libraries: emerging centres for sustainable development. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2013 - Singapore - Future Libraries: Infinite Possibilities in Session 150 - Asia and Oceania.

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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

The changing role of community libraries: emerging centres for sustainable development

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the success stories and challenges of the READ (Rural Education And Development) program, which has been active in the building and development of community libraries in rural and remote areas in Nepal, and has established 53 libraries in different parts of the country. The paper will focus on how the role and the scope of these community libraries has been changing to meet changing needs in local communities and in Nepalese society at large, and how these libraries address the critical issue of sustainability. The community libraries serve many diverse functions and needs, being not simply venues for the reading and lending of books, but also community development centres with a strong focus on grass-roots education, empowerment and economic development. In addition to providing an overview of the READ program, this paper will report on the outcome of focus group discussions with three community libraries that also function as community development centres, meeting local demand for literacy retention, livelihood promotion and community engagement. These three libraries highlight both the local practice and the grass-roots experience of making a community library a viable place to attain positive transformation, and of expanding the scope of what the library offers to meet the changing needs and priorities of its community. READ Nepal was the recipient of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation “Access to Learning Award” (ATLA) in 2006 for its innovative approach to the provision and sustainability of community libraries. In addition, the Nepal Community Library Association, an association formed to develop community libraries, was the recipient library association in Asia of the IFLA “Building Strong Library Associations” program in 2011-12. In 2013, READ Global has also been recognized by Lipman Family Prize of the Wharton School and University of Pennsylvania.

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