Thursday, 8 June 2017

A free library

from books other people have thrown away sounds like a very sensible idea to me.
One of my "Upover" friends sent me a news snippet about a Colombian dustman/rubbish man who has been rescuing books that other people have thrown out. He has turned them into a library for the poor in Colombia - giving them a chance to read.
We have libraries here in Downunder. They are "free" to use - paid for by taxes and council rates. I can borrow a book from anywhere in the state through the on-line catalogue. It will get delivered to my local library. I get a message via email (or it could be text if I was text savvy) and then I can go along and pick it up, read it and return it the same way. It is an amazing system and one for which I am constantly genuinely grateful.
I suspect that most people who use the library do not avail themselves of the state wide catalogue. They probably don't feel the need to do it. They enjoy browsing the shelves and dipping into books until they find something they think they will enjoy reading. That's good too.
But, what if you couldn't do that? I was delighted by the story of the Colombian man and his efforts. And I know of other efforts to get books to people that would amaze many. There is a small library in the high Andes that takes books to people by llama. It was set up in International Literacy Year.  It was the idea of a Roman Catholic priest and started with just a handful of books. Now there are several llamas and they go to places other transport cannot reach. (Well yes, a human goes with them!)
There is a library in Africa which transports books by canoe - the only way some villages can be reached. It gets used and used, especially by the children.
There's the "Book Bus" - well more than one bus now - which transports a small library to schools and communities by bus. It allows limited numbers of books to be shared among far more people. 
When my friend Z... was living here and had contacts he could use we were sending things packed into whatever space was left in shipping containers. It required a lot of work to get things sent to our friend who was running the centre for unaccompanied children in East Africa. When there were books in the loads the children would send me messages that absolutely quivered with excitement. Discarded library books here? We can use them! At night C... would read to them all  or one of the oldest would read to the youngest children.  When email became available C.... would send me weekly messages telling me all sorts of things and what they were reading was always mentioned. I had to answer many questions about the contents which were  often culturally strange to them.
Not so long ago there was a request from a local church. There was space available and they wanted to send books to Africa again and no please they didn't want Bibles and hymn books they wanted books for the children and young people. Someone bailed me up in the local shopping centre about this initiative and asked me, "Don't they have television?"
No, they don't have television where the books were going. They don't have electricity. They want books. They need books.
If there is an appeal out for books to other places - even just down to the end of the street - please consider what you can give. Children need them.
They need a free library.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hate seeing books thrown away ... even the most tattered book can at least be used to keep warm if you have a match. However it takes a lot of readers to wear out a book before it gets to that state, and people everywhere deserve the chance to read, especially children.