Helping a school library

by Sahadev Komaragiri

I know that this article will sound like a facebook update status that reads like this: “I know 99% of you won’t repost this to your status, but my friends will be the 1% that do”. Let me assure you that this post will not serve as an obligation on your part to help a library. Now that the important announcement is made, let us get back to how we all can help in creating and sustaining a school library.

This article is from the series on Making a Difference. Please read starting a school library and managing a school library before continuing to read this post.

There are many schools in India which do not have any library. Our own school with a good infrastructure cannot afford to have a separate room for a library. Several schools that can be considered good schools have one large room divided into several classes. In such scenarios it is unthinkable that the schools can afford to have meaningful libraries.

Many schools in India are struggling to make their ends meet. Add to this the fact that the entire country is obsessed with academic credentials; anything slightly outside the purview of academic work is considered a waste of time. A combination of these two factors, inadequate finances plus lack of an understanding on the role of libraries, continue to contribute to the absence of libraries in schools. A question that was asked in many schools is why they should have a separate library period when no other school is doing it. The vicious circle feeds on itself and grows wide and large. Rural schools are worst affected while the situation is no different in big cities. The biggest losers in the process are our children. If we do not intervene and change it, no one else will.

There is scope for innovation and many schools are doing some creative work in this area. A school that I know provided a box in every classroom. This box is called teachers kit box. This has many things such as chalk pieces, a duster, correction note books and finally a bunch of library books. When it is library period, the concerned teacher, who is not a qualified librarian, takes out all the library books and distributes them to the students. After the library period is over, the books go back to their position in the box. If there is no separate library, then the classroom becomes a library.

Please remember that a majority of the schools in this country are struggling. If they have good funding and support from the government, we would be talking about other issues. There are many ways we can intervene and make a small difference. Here is how you and I can help.

  1. Encourage every child to read more and more books. This is perhaps the easiest and cheapest thing to do. When you are with a group of kids, ask them if they have heard the names of Tenali Ramakrishna, Birbal, Cinderalla, Pinocchio, and a few other names that you yourself are familiar with. Depending on the answer you get you can ask them what books they read and encourage them further to read more and more. I recently talked to a 4th grade student from UK who was on a visit to India with his mother who happens to be my niece. I heard that he likes to read books. I asked him what books he likes to read and with stiff British accent he said “Well, fiction and non-fiction”. I was floored. I asked him what kind of non-fiction he reads and prompt came his nonchalant response “Mostly about airplanes and cars!” You see one can have a good conversation with kids who like to read books. If I had kept some kids books with me, I would have immediately gifted him one. When giving gifts to children, please consider giving books that they like to read.
  2. If you know of a good school that is being run by a person you know or if you know a school where one of your friends is working as a teacher, then simply adopt their school library and donate books especially comics on a regular basis. Drop in a subscription to Chandama, Wisdom, Champak or any other similar children’s periodicals as a gift to their school library. These things do not really cost a fortune but quite the opposite and the positive effects are too many to count.
  3. If you are a parent, make sure to attend the parents meeting at your child’s school. This is often a very important responsibility that many parents ignore. If parents meetings are not conducted you should take the lead in forming a parents association and frequenting the school to see how it is doing.
  4. If there is a school library in your child’s school, check it out and see if you can do your bit to contribute to the school library either as a volunteer or through some purchases. If there is no library demand for one and unite the voice of all the parents in setting up a library for the school. If there is an alumni association for the school you attended, join them and help your alma mater in as many possible ways as you can.
  5. Finally if you are interested in joining me in supporting a library, please drop me a line, not just a line but an actual statement of purpose, and I will try and find an appropriate school for you to support. I will take up the responsibility of monitoring the school library on your behalf.

This country suffers from too much cynicism, a malady that is not easy to fix. We are not ready to do our bit. We suspect that every penny that is donated for a cause will line the pockets of some undesirable being. I am not sure if this is going to be a permanent excuse or a permanent real reason. Either ways we are doomed. But in my perspective, a small nudge here and there and a little bit of homework is all it takes to do our bit. A country can survive on the noble pursuits adopted by its good natured people, even if the percentage of the good natured people is just that 1%.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Syamala September 13, 2012 at 7:05 pm

I really appreciate your efforts in improving the schools. I am interested in contributing.
I am willing to contribute books to the needy schools.
Please let me know the details.


Sahadev Komaragiri September 26, 2012 at 7:33 am

Hi Syamala,
Thanks for your comment and willingness to contribute. I sent you an email, please respond when you get a chance.


Asha September 25, 2012 at 9:15 am

Respected Sir

I have read most of your articles and i thoroughly enjoy them.

I live in the USA and I would like to help in any way , so I can plan on doing this on my next visit to India.



Sahadev Komaragiri September 26, 2012 at 7:34 am

Hi Asha,
Thanks for your comment and willingness to contribute. I sent you an email, please respond when you get a chance.


Ram December 16, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Hi Mr. Sahadev,

Fortunately I have come to know about your blog when one of my facebook friends time line showing he liked your posts. The article is about driving in India – I just went to your blog to read that aricle and did not leave my laptop until I finished reading all your articles.

To do what you are doing need courage, passion and great will power. I have no words to praise your effort and hope this will bring at least some change and others will follow you soon to give a better education – which is the fundamental right of every children.

I am from a small Town – Tiruvuru (30 miles from Nandigama), in my first school (primary) the teachers used to take classes under tree as there are no suffiecient rooms for all classes. I can undestand what’s the situation when you said no separate room for a library in most of the schools.

Please let me know if whatever contrbution I can make will help a little for you to get few more students to get access to some good books.



Sahadev Komaragiri December 18, 2012 at 1:40 am

Hi Ram,
Thanks for your kind words of encouragement and support. Thanks for offering to help a cause that no one seems to care about. There is a good response from a number of people and I will add you to that list. Unless we know for sure that the books are going to be used, we should not be handing over the books to the schools. There are a number of schools with books that remain locked in shelf for years. When we offer books to read, they should not end up in a locker. To ensure that the books are properly used I am working out a small model. If a school is willing to adopt that model, than I would be able to help. I will get in touch with you as soon as I am able to identify a genuine need.


Valli January 17, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Sahadev Garu,
I read most of your articles and appreciate your efforts in improving education system in rural India
I live in NJ and if there is any thing I could do to help setting up libraries please let me know
Would consider my self blessed if I could contribute anyway in this esteemed project


Sahadev Komaragiri January 19, 2013 at 1:05 am

Hello Valli garu,
Thanks for your interest to help. I received tremendous response to this post of mine. I am indeed fortunate to have visitors like you who are interested in helping the underprivileged.

There is some difficulty in ensuring that the books are used in the school. I am currently working on a “Reading Program” for schools. It will take some more time before it can evolve to an implementation stage. It will be something of a mandatory reading list for grades 3, 4, 5 & 6 coupled with a good reward system and an appropriate monitoring program. We will be able to donate the books as well as the reward material(Certificates & Books) and monitoring logs. I am still working out the details. I just do not want to donate books to a school and forget about it.

Once I have such a system in place, I will get in touch with you. Also watch out for an update on this site!

Thanks & Regards


Gayathri Krishnamoorthy February 7, 2013 at 12:51 am

Sahadev, Have you thought of a mobile library for your and other schools in your area? I think there are some orgs (Pratham comes to mind) that have successfully executed mobile libraries in other rural communities. You could see if one exists in your area. That would take care of the space issue as also the problem of unused books.


Sahadev Komaragiri February 8, 2013 at 2:15 am

Gayatri, there is no mobile library in the area. Even if there is one they do not visit the schools, at least I am not aware of those that do. One of my friends is looking for a way to start a mobile library and I am not sure how to help. Recently I bought a number of Pratham books. I like their four levels of reading. I am planning on starting a reading program for schools based on the four reading levels. That is a work in progress!


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