The Role of Community Libraries in Empowering Female Citizens in Disadvantaged Areas of Thailand

BOONAREE, Chommanaad and GOULDING, Anne (2019) The Role of Community Libraries in Empowering Female Citizens in Disadvantaged Areas of Thailand. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2019 - Athens, Greece - Libraries: dialogue for change in Session 144 - Women, Information and Libraries SIG with Libraries without Borders.

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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

The Role of Community Libraries in Empowering Female Citizens in Disadvantaged Areas of Thailand

In Thailand, school-based reading promotion in rural and urban poor areas is limited due to poverty, a lack of children’s books, limited knowledge and understanding of early childhood development (ECD) and the value of reading for pleasure (RfP), and some entrenched Thai literacy traditions. Community library projects which engage community members, not only fill a gap in reading promotion in Thailand, but also empower female citizens in marginalized areas. Based on a PhD multiple case study research project (Boonaree, 2018b), this paper discusses best practices in community libraries (CLs) that empower women and girls through personal development, literacy development support, and income generation. Cases showed that the informal atmosphere in CLs encouraged unconfident and disadvantaged people in the rural Northeast (Isan) area of Thailand to enter libraries and attend library activities. CL training programs transformed girls and adult females into confident individuals who were then able to help others and assert their indigenous linguistic identity. These local female reading volunteers are change agents who distribute ECD knowledge and picture books, and mentor mothers to read to their young children. Craft training sessions at the CLs also generated both pleasure and additional income for female villagers.

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