NLF Awards C$18500 to the Open Learning Exchange Nepal
After visiting a number of rural libraries in Nepal in 2008 it became apparent to the NLF Board that there was a pressing need for on line Nepali language literary and educational material.
This situation was confirmed by a site visit in May 2008 to two high school computer labs and e-libraries in rural Myagdi that the NLF co-sponsored with Help Nepal Net (HeNN) and which are serviced by the Nepal Wireless Network, in Tikot and the Himalchal Secondary School in Nangi.
The NLF approached the Open Learning Exchange Nepal to discuss how we might work together to provide access to Nepali language literature and other learning resources in Nepali and English.
The result is the e-Pustakalaya ('pustakalaya' means 'library' in Nepali).
Already in a developmental stage, the NLF agreed to provide CAD$18500 to fund the further development and implementation of the project and to bring it online. The OLE worked under the most difficult conditions to keep the project on track. Notably the lack of power due to rotating load shedding or blackouts led to OLE staff adopting unorthodox working hours to make use of the power when it was available.
The e-Putsakalaya is now online and accessible wherever there is internet access. The vast majority of schools and libraries in Nepal lack internet access. The deployment of the e-Pustakalaya is thus done hand in glove with large scale computer deployment such as that being undertaken with the XO2 laptop deployment program (also known as the One Laptop per Child initiative). Each XO2 laptop will eventually come with the e-Pustakalaya pre-installed.
The NLF is also committed to getting a DVD or CD based copy of the e-Pustakalaya installed in as many libraries as possible and has already committed to providing a copy to each of the 50 or so READ libraries most if not all of whom have at least one functioning computer.
Check it out for yourself at www.pustakalaya.org
Taking Action on Literacy
In October 2006 a group of Canadians delivered hundreds of books to a small school Sri Arun Jyoti Primary School - in the community of Sundaridanda, located about eight hours drive west of Kathmandu and just near Pokhara.
The group was on tour with Wanda Vivequin who runs a small travel company out of Edmonton Alberta . As part of the tour they visited a local school delivering books and school supplies. The following year more books were delivered and it was then in April 2007 that the principal of the school asked for help to build a library to house them.
About 18 months later in November 2008, the beautiful community library we have called Ria's Reading Room was completed, named after Hi Himalayas Treks and Tours Ltd owner Wanda Vivequin's mother, who worked as a librarian and who passed away aged 42.
In 2008 Wanda approached the Nepal Library Foundation and asked whether the project could be registered with them and they kindly accepted. We have made sure that the ownership of the library rests with the community with a local committee appointed to oversee its operation and finances. This committee is headed by Mr Arjun Parajuli the manager of the nearby Begnas Resort who has voluntarily managed the entire contruction of this incredible project. We are blessed to have him on board and so committed to the success of this project.
This stunning community library is now lined with brightly painted bookshelves filled with English and Nepali language books donated by caring Canadians and the internationally recognized Room to Read. A librarian has been appointed from the local village and there has been significant ongoing development at this wonderful community facility.
The library is open six days a week eight hours a day and all members of the community are welcome to take out books. In July 2009 a student from McGill University, Emily Clare, spent almost two months in the village beginning an adult literacy course that the local mothers' group had requested.
Read more about RRR in the recent RRR Newsletter
The Tikapur Community Library is the first library to benefit from the collaboration between the NLF and READ Nepal.
Tikapur is a municipality with a population of 45000 situated in the far western Terai district. There is a student population of about 15000.
The project involves an income generating component of retail stores and a meeting hall which can be rented for functions.
Management of the project is provided by a committee involving a cross section of the community. This committee has worked with READ Nepal to develop a project management plan to ensure that the library can be built and put into service within a calculated time frame.
The NLF's contribution of C$5500 along with the grant of C$2500 from Libraries Across Borders will provide for library equipment, books and other supplies.
The community is expected to provide anywhere from 10-20% of the total cost and demonstrate that it can support the library with an affiliated business.
The building design work has been completed and a construction firm hired for the first component of the building program which should be completed in late November.
The community of Tikapur has suffered greatly from the insurgency and is host to many displaced people. Many agencies withdrew support from the area due to unsafe conditions. The library is the first aid project to be initiated for six or more years.
The NLF have allocated funds $4,500 to support the renewing of the Prakash Community Library situated in the community of Shreekhandapur in the Kathmandu valley. The community relies largely on farming and small scale manufacturing and food processing. The library was established over 50 years ago with contributions from notable citizens of the time. Lacking a reliable source of funding the library languished until a small group of residents coordinated the renovation of the library and reestablished a community based leadership team to manage it.
The library is supported by the local VDC but faces the key issue of sustainability. The committee is working hard to develop a sustainability plan. The library committee is looking for social investment and expertise in helping them establish such a plan to ensure the continued development of the library. Interested persons should go to the PCL website (www.pcl.org.np ) to make contact with the management committee.