Project SEED (seeding Enquiry, Empathy and Dialogue) is a community library project that aims to instill the love of reading and facilitate the growth of a mindset based on inquiry,empathy and dialogue in children through read aloud, book talk, choice reading, and innovative and fun library activities. It also aims to provide access to reading resources and inculcate a culture of reading among youths and adults. The project began in November 2021 with establishment of 4 community libraries.Presently, Ayang is supporting 40 communities in running and facilitating community libraries. The SEED project shall be brought to life through 200 community libraries over the next 4 years reaching and engaging 10,000 children as thoughtful readers. The project is designed to support each community library for 2 years from the time of establishment. In the course of 2 years, Ayang supports each village in establishing their own community library which would be owned and led by them. Ayang supports with an initial set of nearly 500 curated books for children and youth in Assamese, English, Hindi and where possible relevant regional language. Ayang also trains and provides hand holding to the library facilitator, called “Xopun Sarothi” (dream charioteers) nominated by the community themselves for a period of 18 months.
The SEED project model is structured majorly around four pillars:
- Access: The first pillar of the SEED project is to facilitate access to reading resources in a community-owned space run by trained individuals. We provide support for reading resources and training, while the village provides the space and construction. This ensures equal participation and community ownership.
- Usage: In the SEED project, we define usage as when the library space and reading resources are utilized by various stakeholders such as children, youth, and adults. This means that the stakeholders are issuing and engaging with reading materials available inside the library.
- Community ownership and sustainability: Community ownership and sustainability is one of the fundamental pillars of the community library model. This is because without community ownership, the library will not be sustainable in the long run. That’s why we design our processes in such a way that the village gradually takes ownership of the library and runs it on its own.
- Merits of reading: The merits of reading (MoR) is the fourth and last pillar of the community library model. This pillar is the foundation for the other three pillars. MoR means that people understand that reading plays a very important role in individual life. It can facilitate the building of a holistic personality of an individual who will not only learn the skills and abilities of the 21st century, but also have a value framework that guides their decision-making at various points in life.
Major activities of the project :
- Quarterly residential trainings for Xopun Sarathis: These training provides Xopun Sarathis with the skills and knowledge they need to effectively run libraries and engage with youth and adults in their communities.
- Quarterly capacity building meetings with Library Management Committee members: These meetings provides Library Management Committee members with the skills and knowledge required to effectively support Xopun Sarathis , manage and actively engage in management of the library.
- Quarterly awareness program in villages: These programs raises awareness of the importance of libraries and reading in rural communities.
- Monthly engagements with parents and youths: These engagements provides parents and youths with the opportunity to learn about the library and how they can get involved.
- Hand holding Xopun Sarathis on field to conduct library activities and games effectively: This ensures Xopun Sarathis have the support they need to effectively run library activities and games. The hand holding will include providing guidance, training, and resources.