The Owl Library Initiative is an offshoot of the Anjaw Library Initiative which was launched in August 2017, and has since been funded through crowdsourcing.
The idea to build libraries was inspired by a visit to one of the most remote districts in India called Anjaw found deep within Arunachal Pradesh’s mountainous hinterlands, contiguous with China. Visiting the schools there threw light upon the fact that children had never seen comic books or even heard of many contemporary figures of India’s rich literary history. This was due to a lack of access to information that regions such as Anjaw suffer from.
Hence, the Owl Library Initiative aimed to set up libraries in schools or institutions where children from socially or economically backward communities congregate. So far, they have built 20 libraries. In order to make this initiative sustainable and to ensure accountability, the organisation also works with people from the community, collaborate with NGOs, community-based organisations, and the local government. This is because a decentralised approach enables the organisation to give the communities direct access to books.
As of now, the organisation is aiming to establish mini-libraries in more schools, orphanages and children’s homes. The ones selected to implement these programmes will also receive training by Owl’s volunteers. This training would include but is not limited to bookkeeping, indexing, maintaining a register of books and generating enthusiasm to read. Ground-level volunteers would also be taught how to use books such as encyclopaedias, dictionaries, and atlases.
Student librarians would also be given the responsibility to look after the library and to ensure that this institutional knowledge gets passed on to other students in the coming years.
By doing this, they hope to create a culture of not just acquiring new knowledge, but also one of accountability, trust, and collective responsibility.
Enriching the lives of children through the magic of books remain their overarching aim.
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