Spreading the joy of reading across Dawn Lit Mountains

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by Sathya Mundayoor, Coordinator, VT-AWIC Youth Library Network, Lohit

The Youth Library Movement in Lohit in Himalayan India

VT-AWIC Youth Library Network, Lohit is a unique youth movement in Arunachal Pradesh in North-eastern Himalayan India, reaching out to readers across a span of 300 kms in the remote Lohit and Anjaw districts, since May 2007. The Network set up jointly by the Association of Writers & Illustrators for Children (AWIC), New Delhi, the Vivekananda Trust, (HQ: Mysore) and the Lohit District Admn, is run by volunteers, contributing their time and energy for the Movement. It has set a new trend in public-library services in the state, with innovative Reading Promotion activities for the all round educational development of the rural Arunachali tribal youth, winning the hearty appreciation of the elite and the common people.        

The Network of 13 mini-libraries is coordinated by Vivekananda Trust, a charitable trust involved in reading campaigns in the region since 2002.  It has a collection of 6000 excellent youth-friendly books for children, youth, teachers and parents, most of it, a gift from the Omprakash Foundation, USA. About 20 youth magazines are contributed by patrons from all over India. The Bamboosa Library, Tezu and the APNE Library, Wakro, function 7 days a week in the evenings, all through the year, while the other libraries open from 2 to 6 days a week.    

The highlight of the Libraries is a unique reading campaign the young reader-activists and volunteers have been conducting in the region with story-telling & reading sessions, book-contests, recitations and skits in English, Hindi and Arunachali tribal languages and book exhibitions. Such channelizing of peer-group learning has brought the youth in remote areas, where no library exists, closer to discovering the Joy of reading. The Campaign receives support from social organizations like ASSET, Wakro, Police Welfare School, Tezu, Jalan’s Charity Trusts, Dibrugarh, the dist. govt agencies, as well as the patronage of the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Gen. (retd) J. J. Singh and the local legislators. In 2010, libraries successfully organized the visit of 2 University students from England and 5 adult reader-volunteers from rest of India to strengthen the campaign. Interactions with guests to the libraries and participation in the International Conference on Children’s Libraries, New Delhi, Feb 2010 also added to the personality traits of the reader-activists.   
 
The Network has broken fresh grounds by attending the British Council Conference on English Language Teaching & Development at Hyderabad (Jan 2011). We welcome readers to join the Lohit Youth Library movement with resources or manpower. 

For additional information e-mail: lohit.libraries@gmail.com or visit http://www.vivekanandatrust.webs.com.

View the “Spreading the joy of reading across Dawn Lit Mountains” video made by the Vivekananda Trust, which coordinates the Lohit Youth Library Movement.

Skit enacting, Bamboosa Library, Tezu

Photo captions:
1. Photograph of Ms. Jeenamsi Ngadong, a reader-activist at APNE Library, Wakro
2. Reading campaign, Mawai village, Wakro
3. Skit enacting, Bamboosa Library, Tezu

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