PROJECT UPDATE: Cameroon’s Children’s Corners
In 2014, we launched our Children’s Corners programme with EISERVI in Cameroon to create child-friendly spaces in ten public libraries across the country. The participating libraries were selected as they did not have suitable spaces for children and most did not have librarians trained to work with young readers.
Over the past three years, a dedicated space for children has been refurbished in each library, with brightly painted walls and child-sized furniture. Each Children’s Corner has been filled with 2,500 brand new children’s books and 100 locally-purchased books. Two librarians from each library have also attended specialist training in working with children.
Three years on, EISERVI gathered librarians from each of the ten libraries to review the impact the programme has had on local children and their wider communities.
Here, Andrew Nyenty, the Director of EISERVI, talks about the differences the programme is making and shares some of the librarians’ thoughts:
Colourful, vibrant library spaces
“The furniture, books and murals together gave each of the libraries a ‘wahoo’ expression to any visitor that came through.
The project has developed a new breed of librarians who now have the skills to run activities for children and have a lot of interest in working with children.
The librarians have developed a network called the Association of Council Librarians and work together sharing ideas, experiences and best practice. They visit each other’s’ libraries and as a group raise corrective ideas and issues when they visit each site.
Libraries enjoy a raised profile in their local communities
For the first time most Children’s Corners have attracted the interest of the mayors who before now never believed in the role of the library in their community:
Even with the pictures I saw, I could not imagine that a product of this nature will be the outcome of the space I provided for a library. I am thrilled by the outcome.
– Lansi Abel, Mayor of Bafut Council.
The project has also elevated the image of the librarians in the community:
In Bamenda I command a lot of respect and parents trust and confide in me about issues they have with managing their difficult children at home because they realise these children feel at home with me and trust me.
– Caroline Nche, Bamenda City Council Library.
Among other things this has led to a growth in popularity books and reading
The library has become a centre for research and learning: Most of the children find it convenient to stop first at the library and do their assignments and some reading before going home.
In all the libraries, the number of children visiting and registering has tripled. Before the project, libraries like the Kumba City Council Library could not register 20 users in a month but today they can boast of an average of 250 members in a month and more than 400 users visiting the library to read.
This is the only project in our communities that has won the hearts of parents and children alike. Parents will personally drive their children to and from the library. Some of them have ended up registering and using the library because of their children.
Children’s reading skills and educational attainment is improving
The project is very timely for our communities as most of the children have never had access to any other books apart from their curriculum books, but today they have the pleasure to choose from a wide variety they can borrow from and take home to read.
The Children’s Corners have developed a new cream of learners that believe in the power of books and reading books mean a whole lot in their lives:
I am amazed at the new appetite for reading that has sprung in the children here in Bafut, such that they can stay in the library for more than five hours after school and some will only go home when I beg them to. Their appetite for reading has also inspired me to become an avid reader.
– Esther Fru, Librarian, Bafut Council Library.
This has greatly improved their reading skills and their academic performance in their schools as indicated by Mr Sama Linus, Head Teacher at St. Agnes Nursery and Primary School:
Reading fast tracks performance, this is evident in my school.
Schools around the libraries with Children’s Corners have also started making use of the corners as part of their timetables. They have developed and worked out a timetable with the librarians to bring their children to the library. The schools are seeing a change in their pupils as a result:”
We are proud of the Limbe City Council Library; it has increased the success rate of exam results in my school particularly. My school is a regular at the library and the impact is evident in all spheres.
– Julie Lifande, Proprietor of Spring of wisdom Nursery and Primary School, Limbe.
This library has an added-value to our teaching methodology and performance in our end of year results.
– Mr. John Egbe, Head Teacher, Catholic Primary School Kumba Town.
Find out more about Children’s Corners and our work in Cameroon using the links below.