Building School Libraries in Monrovia, Liberia A. Glenn Tubman Elementary, 12 street, Sinkor, Monrovia.

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1 Liberia, Monrovia 2014 Building School Libraries in Monrovia, Liberia A. Glenn Tubman Elementary, 12 street, Sinkor, Monrovia. My journey began with a curiosity to see the condition of public schools in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. I decided to visit a public school in my neighbourhood. The school with over 2,300 students just had a dark building and not much in term of facilities, no electricity, running water in the bathroom, not enough chairs for the students and no books. It was overwhelming in the beginning to think where to start. I decided to start with the Library project as I realised after few reading sessions with the students in different grades how poor their reading ability was. So thus the journey began The First Library: At the A. Glenn Tubman Elementary School The pictures below tell a story and process to establish the first library. It took longer than anticipated as it was a learning process and understanding how things worked here for me as well. The Library is now open equipped with books of different genres, posters and flash cards for spelling. It is open 5 days a week and also opens on Saturdays for children from the community. The Library has two full time passionate librarians: Elizabeth and Emmanuel. It is really rewarding to see the students coming to the library even during recess. As part of the library activity we also managed to publish the first ever school magazine and put up the works of the students on the walls. This was quite inspiring to the students to see their stories, poems and artwork hanging in the walls. They are bringing their new work for the second edition. Below are some pictures of the process of transforming a room into a library: The storage room on The Library on Masons fixing the walls Let s paint it white and blue The students find their way March 2014 After painting April 2014

2 Student reads for Elizabeth Emmanuel teaches how to use the Library Every recess they come and read The grandchildren of Elizabeth There are still a lot of challenges to run the library smoothly, Emmanuel is currently volunteering, and he needs to be employed for the sustainability of the Library. There are still things required like benches and curtains to keep the dust out at night and more books. We are planning to start lending out books to take home soon but this is quite risky as we might not see the book returned back, we will give it a try and see how this goes. We need to get the Library more integrated in teaching. Teachers still have to learn how to use the Library for their teaching. Children have to be taught how to use the Library. Children and teachers both have to be taught how to turn a page without rumpling it. Having said all this we have achieved a milestone with the birth of the first Library at A.Glenn Elementary School. 2 nd Library in the Junior High is also open. (end of March 2014) After a successful opening of the elementary Library, we received request to open a Library at the A. Glenn Junior High school too. After an initial visit we decided to convert a classroom into the Library. The carpenters started working on the bookshelves, we bought rug for the floor for children to sit on and enjoy reading. The shelves were soon arranged with books that were available. We even had to put some barriers on the barriers, to keep small children out from stealing the books. Joseph the carpenter and his men made benches, bookshelves and tables. We bought posters. We need a Librarian to be employed for this Library soon for now we found Adolphus willing to volunteer as the new Librarian for now. But as stated above, we still need more books, more shelves, curtains. We also want to start a School Magazine for the Junior High and start lending books to take home. This building has electricity. So it might be a good idea to have a few computers and other audio visual educational material for the Library in the future Below are some pictures capturing the process. Empty classroom to become a Library January 2014 Joseph the carpenter and his men are changing old cupboards in new bookcases Building and painting. The table is made from a door from the old cupboard We are not open, but they come in to read and look at the books

3 Posters, new shelves Students put up the banner: Welcome, learning is the key to success Where are The Netherlands? Finished Waiting for students Here they are All reading a different book Adolphus the new (volunteering) Librarian Books and students and books and students and books Grand Opening of the 2 School Libraries of A. Glenn Tubman, on Wednesday April 9, 2014 The official grand inauguration of the two school Libraries was held on Wednesday April 9, 2014 at Tubman High School. The event was spearheaded by the Principal J. Nyenpan. Everybody knows now that there are 2 Libraries in the school. The presence of the Superintendent Mr. A.B. Jacobs and Vice Superintendent Ms. Sherman showed their commitment and willingness to support Libraries in public schools. The program was attended by all the students wearing T-shirt with slogans like I love to read gifted by LTTP reading program. The students sang songs and the choir team also performed during the function. Superintendent A.B. Jacobs and vice Superintendent Sherman cut the ribbon to officially open the 2 Libraries. Here are some glimpses of the program. Full house at the opening program All students got a I love to read t-shirt I won t let you go, by Christine Wright was a hit. In their new t-shirt and on their way to the opening The school choir of A. Glenn sang Librarians, guests, carpenters, painters, masons: thanks! Superintendent A. B. Jacobs opens the Library of the Junior High Assistant S.I. Mrs. Sherman opens the Library of the Elementary

4 Even the Newspaper noticed. Published in the Daily Observer on April rd Library at Matady After successfully opening two libraries, in April 2014, we have again started building the third School Library at another elementary community school, with around 1400 students. Matady Community School in Monrovia. The school is in a dilapidated building, apparently to be demolished sometime in the future, so we have once again joined hands to build a temporary library as long as the building stands. We have decided to expedite our work to build a temporary library with portable shelves, so it can be moved to its permanent building, if this happens. At least the students can enjoy the reap the benefit of reading from the library books that are currently packed in boxes. April 7, 2014 April 7, 2014 Robert and Daniel painting their 3rd Library We are not open yet Almost finished on April 15 More books are welcome

5 A lot more is still needed to be done. There still are 5 public schools without a Library; many of the other school Libraries are not functioning due to a lot of constraints. According to Mr. Marshall, head Librarian in the MCSS system, there are 17 employed Librarians (of which how many educated?) So I was exploring the situation to assess the present status of these existing Libraries. I will focus on the Libraries for the 22 public Schools in Monrovia. Not on the private schools, although they keep asking me for help. But now all schools are closed. So I am back in Amsterdam, working for the same goal from here. Prescribed Textbooks needed. Because of lack of funds in the education budget in Liberia we can use any help cash, kind or service that you are willing and able to provide. *Money,* time,* books,* posters,* dustbins,* Library register books,* pencils,* pens,* reams of paper,* wood to build book cases,* shelves,* locks to keep the books save. Nothing is small in terms of contribution. Shipping can be a big problem with high costs and no guarantee in this very corrupt country. Only partnering with existing shipments of reliable NGO s, or health NGO s can work. Last contact with MCSS Superintendent makes it clear that the most needed, when schools will be opening again, are the prescribed textbooks. To buy in Liberia or in Ghana. So we are focussing on the funding for that. At this moment: October 2014, the first Dutch school is campaigning for the prescribed schoolbooks for the Monrovian School Libraries. The 6 th Montessorischool Anne Frank in Amsterdam. Great example of crowdfunding by a school! Take a look at our Facebook: Good Libraries Liberia Crowdfunding is on the way. Will be running from November More Libraries are coming With your help. Let us know if you want to contribute. We always appreciate your help. Thank you once again. On behalf of the school children in Monrovia, October The Netherlands:

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