Setting Up and Using Libraries Effectively: Workshop by Usha Mukunda

A day-long workshop on setting up and using libraries effectively was facilitated by Usha Mukunda and her team on day II of Kathavana, 2013, . The workshop adopted a question-answer format for discussions (eliciting and building on the attendees’ responses and current knowledge); and spent significant time on hands-on activities, which, though done in groups of 5-6 were remarkably participative. The objective of the workshop was to discuss, and learn how to do three things:

  • What are the features of and how to set up a good library
  • What are the features of and how to select a good book
  • How to conduct (six) activities, to both – manage libraries effectively, and make them useful and attractive for children
  • Date/Time: Day II – December 13, 2013. | 10.00 am to 5.00 pm
  • Resource person: Usha Mukunda and team
  • Participants: Mostly librarians, teachers, some independent education professionals

Overview of the process :

  • The day started with an ice/breaker and a round of introductions. Then Usha briefed about the format of the workshop (interactive, using Qs & As format and activities)
  • The first session was facilitated by a member of Usha’s team who initiated the discussion by asking questions such as, “What is needed for a plant to flower well?” Similarly, “What is required for complete flourishing of a child? How can we retain creativity / imagination of a child surrounded with prescribed textbooks?” Etc.
  • It was highlighted that children are embedded in family/social life and their connections with the outside world should be kept in mind even in libraries; and that it is an open space with no narrow ‘agenda’ but one of exploration and unplanned learning
  • After this, the question of why we need a library and the essential aspects/features of a library were discussed by the group. Key aspects which came during discussion include – i) Diverse and Appropriate Collection, ii) Open & Easy access, iii) Proper Arrangement (display, categorization, etc.), iv) Comfortable seating/reading space, and v) Friendly loving resource person (to guide readers).
  • In the second session (post tea-break), participants were divided in 5/6 groups and were asked to setup libraries considering the aspects discussed above as well as others that the teams could think of.
  • Participants came up with methods to make their libraries accessible and friendly (posters on: if you need help ask me, how can we make your library better); interactive (why I liked the book I read, discussion space within the library); accessible and colorful; and to keep records etc.
  • A round of discussion, Q&A, input sharing was conducted on this library setup exercise. Issues such as the advantages and disadvantages of categorizing books according to age were raised. Some of the participants/librarians shared the challenges they are facing in bringing/attracting children to library (internet is distracting children, they have too many prescribed textbooks, there is no time in the school time table for library) while others shared various interesting practices they have followed for such problems (internet can be used to encourage children to read books in library etc).
  • In the second half/third session, elements of a good book were discussed to help teachers/librarians select appropriate books for their library. Some of the elements that everyone agreed to be important were – Story, Theme & Content, Language, and Illustrations. The element of ‘Values’ was also discussed and it was suggested that more thoughts needs to be given on whether a good book should/should not/need not have values.
  • Hands-on activity to learn how to select a good book (and ‘de-select’ a not-so-good book was conducted) in which different set of books were given to participants in groups and they were asked to select the best book out of the given set using the parameters discussed earlier. They were then asked to present their selections and discuss why they selected that book over others. Each presentation was followed by discussion and suggestions on what was good and what else could have been considered.
  • In the last session, a set of six activities that could be conducted in a library were discussed in small groups (with the help of a guide). Each of the groups then practiced that activity; and presented it to the larger group. The activities included:
  1. Reference Games
  2. Book Talk / Chat
  3. Rules for Library
  4. Care of Books
  5. Record Keeping
  6. Treasure Hunt
  • Participants were also given a handout (in Kannada) covering important aspects of library setup/running.

You can find more about Usha’s work and contact her at

Photo Credit:

[This note was put together by Krunal Desai and Avinash Kumar after the workshop.]

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