Bringing Children’s Corners to Sierra Leone
Sallieu Turay is Chief Librarian at the Sierra Leone Library Board and he is passionate about the ability of books to change lives. With his dedicated colleagues, he kept Sierra Leone’s library network open during the Ebola crisis while so many other institutions – including schools – closed so that children could keep reading and important health information could be shared in the community.
We have been supporting Sierra Leone’s recovery by providing books to schools, libraries and hospitals across the country. We are very pleased to announce that we are also working with the Sierra Leone Library Board to create Children’s Corners in five public libraries. Sallieu has provided this blog to describe the need for Children’s Corners and the difference they will make.
In Sierra Leone there is a book famine for many of our children. Few families have the means to purchase books to have at home. Even if they can afford to purchase books, there are few bookshops and those that do exist rarely have the relevant learning and reading materials needed. Many children do not have access to books at school either. They depend almost entirely on what the teacher says or writes on the blackboard for their learning. So there is a real need for books.
The need is even greater now because Sierra Leone is still in the recovery period after Ebola. Literacy, education and access to educational resources and facilities are priority for the government to sail through this period. The Children’s Corners we are creating with Book Aid International have the potential to complement the government’s effort in improving literacy and education in post-Ebola Sierra Leone. We hope the Corners will help children improve their reading and learning skills.
The five public libraries we have selected to take part in the Children’s Corners programme are in underprivileged communities where schools in the area do not have libraries of their own.
These five libraries have the potential to make a real difference to their communities but currently lack the resources they need. For example, the Kissy Branch library serves Kissy, Wellington and Calaba Town. Most people here are petty traders and workers with no formal training. This is the most densely populated area in the whole of Sierra Leone so the new Children’s Corner will reach a lot of people.
In the Kailahun District, served by the Segbwema Branch library, many people are subsistence farmers. Children’s usage of the library is quite low at the moment.
We want to see children from all sorts of backgrounds making use of their new Children’s Corners. Our aim is for them to love books and reading.
Working with children and helping them to discover the joy of reading is something not many librarians are trained to do, so the librarian training as part of this programme is critical for its success.
We hope that the presence of a brand new Children’s Corner will attract more children to make use of our children’s libraries, improve their reading ability and enhance their learning skills.
And in the long term, we hope to see a growing reading culture in these communities as librarians use their new expertise to do outreach activities with schools in their area services. This in turn will enhance improved literacy and education in the communities and support the government’s efforts to rebuild after the Ebola crisis.
These five new Children’s Corners in Sierra Leone have been funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. We would like to thank them for their support.
We look forward to bringing you updates from these new Corners. In the meantime, find out more about Children’s Corners and our work in Sierra Leone using the links below.