Parag – Libraries and Library Educators’ Course

For a majority of Indian children from non-literate home backgrounds, a library is a significant part of their learning experience. One of the roles of a good library is to help children get access to plenty of reading and learning material beyond their school curriculum that will help introduce them to the modern world. Parag, a regional language publication initiative of the Tata Trusts, also works to strengthen existing libraries and create new ones so that school children have easy access to libraries and there is meaningful use of children’s literature in classrooms and homes.

The challenge

Access to children’s literature in India is very limited with 1 book available for 5 children in urban areas. In rural communities, this number is reduced to 1 book for every 11 children. A majority of rural children and many of the urban poor lack buying capacity and have negligible access to storybooks. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that cost of reaching out to children in rural areas far outweighs the costs involved in publishing books.

School libraries can be the most efficient source of access to literature for a majority of children enrolled in schools, who do not have books at home. However, 74% schools do not have functional libraries.

The strategy

Parag helps to:
  • Set up and support school and community libraries to ensure access to quality books
  • Use technology in various forms to promote reading for pleasure
  • Ensure capacity building avenues for librarians, teachers and educators, besides creating resources for setting up and running active libraries
  • Improve library infrastructure
  • Build community participation
  • Support workshops and residencies for authors and illustrators in multiple Indian languages
  • Demonstrate best practices to engage children in reading

Key achievements

A significant part of the Trusts’ investment in Parag has gone towards supporting libraries and capacity building initiatives. These include:

  • Creating access through libraries: Intensive work in 10 community libraries and 20 school libraries have impacted 14,000 children. Approximately 86% of the children improved their reading competencies and interest.
  • Capacity building: A first-of-its-kind course for library educators was conceived, designed and piloted with 30 educators in Hindi. It achieved a 93% completion rate. Capacity building workshops were designed and offered to 140 libraries based on language, qualifications and competencies of the librarians, and the need of the children.
  • Parag has also partnered with the National Book Trust to enable the development of the ‘Guide to Good Books’ – a first-of-its-kind manual to help teachers, librarians and practitioners select literature for children to equip libraries.
  • Developed Kitablet, an e-Library app that hosts children’s books from some of India’s best publishers. Designed for Grades 1-8, this online library can be freely accessed on desktops, laptops or tablets.

Going forward

Based on the impact of its programmes, Parag aims to operationalise its vision in the coming years by:
  • Setting up and supporting 600 libraries to cover 127,000 children. Library activities will be scaled to ensure that at least 75% of the children demonstrate an increased motivation to read. Parag will also run pilot libraries in Community Information Resource Centres (CIRC), and use e-books and open education resources to bridge the digital divide.
  • Developing and offering a Library Educators Course to train 460 personnel, with 90% participants certified as library professionals. This will be offered as an open online course in partnership with a university for certification and hosting. Simultaneously, Parag will explore the upgradation of this course as an open online course through an international collaboration with the EdX platform.
  • Offering an innovative first-of-its-kind course for illustrators to groom 90 illustrators for children’s books.

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