“Bookworm library” – the first time that I laid eyes upon that name was many, many years ago, when I was quickly browsing through one of the newspapers where sat this article about this new library. It had grabbed my attention instantaneously, as the picture accompanying the article was of a group of people, sitting in a circle, discussing a book. Well, it looked more like a book club than a library. It was then that I realised that Bookworm is not just about lending and borrowing books; it was much more; it was a ‘library+’. This made an imprint on my mind; which is why, years later, when I found out that Bookworm was looking for an assistant, I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t know what the work would be, but I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.
So I went to Mushtifund school where my mum (the Principal) introduced me to this very friendly person, Deepali. She smiled at me even before we were introduced and I knew I was in safe hands. She welcomed me with great enthusiasm (which I would love to match someday), and explained what I had to do, it was pretty simple. Lay out the name tags, lay out the books, make a note of books returned, register the code number of the books borrowed, etc. The love that I got from the children was tremendous. Earlier I found it difficult to interact with children as they would test my patience; but now, I started enjoying the interactions. And I started looking forward to Thursdays and Fridays, the days of my duty.
One day, Deepali told me that she had taken up duty at another school for the LIS (Libraries in Schools) programme, and that she wanted me to fill in for her on Fridays, and take the lead. I readily agreed, I was very comfortable with these children already. Nothing much would change; apart from having to attend a meeting on every Monday, everything would be the same; same school, same time, same children.
How wrong was I!
I realised it soon after attending the first meeting. I parked my bike and walked into the library. It looked like a house with no visible walls, only book shelves. Wherever there were no books, there were paintings, wall hangings or toys. It was love at first sight. I know now how I’d want my house to look; at least one room! The meeting was happening on the first floor, I climbed the steps, expecting to enter a more formal looking room than the one below, with a table, like a conference room, looking all office-y. But instead I walked into a room with three mattresses, with plenty of space in the centre, no table, only cushions, and very informal looking shelves. I sat on one of the mattresses, looked around and noticed that there were cream and orange coloured drapes that were softening the light that was entering, giving a very at-home kind of vibe. This room was making me more and more comfy, and with every glance it was hard not to wonder, was I even at work?
While I was pondering, the meeting began. Gouthami, the chair, brought everyone to order. Flavia was ready to draft minutes. Everybody looked alert. And I noticed that even though the place is very homely, their meetings were formal. Soon I realised that every little thing was being noted and drafted to be kept in the records. After the introductions were done, we did this new thing, (well, new to me) where we had to write a journal entry about the previous week, quickly in 5 minutes. That was the easy part; reading it out loud was the hard bit. One by one everybody read their entries and it dawned upon me how immature my journal entry sounded. One of the team had written a poem in those 5 minutes; I was in awe! It was so inspiring. It is a good thing that I’ll get to spend time with these people; it will help me improve my linguistic skills.
After the journal writing, we moved on to the agenda of the meeting. We discussed the Mysore trip that had happened in the previous week. The team that had gone for it, shared their experience; we learned a lot about the newly rehabilitated tribal children who went to the schools they visited. As enriching as it was for them to experience, it was enlightening for us to hear about it.
Certain issues regarding LIS programmes were also discussed. It was decided that we would come up with a strategy during the next meeting to focus on how to turn our pupils into more responsible readers; how to encourage them to express better, be it by way of speaking, writing or drawing. This got me thinking. Bookworm puts in a lot of thought and effort to form their programmes, each activity is carried out for a reason. There’s a lot of “whys” and “hows” that get addressed in these meetings, because their goal is not just to make better readers, it’s about making them better story tellers, better communicators, people who respect feelings, understand emotions and connect with one another. This indeed is a service to the community. Bookworm is doing much more than turning people into bookworms. And I am happy to be a part of this team.