SHH.. Quiet in the Library!

 By Carly Munnelly and Charlotte Mackey, 2017 Project Workers at Holy Family Marukusi 

On our first day at Holy Family Marukusi my project partner and I noticed the school was lacking one very vital element: a library. The existing ‘library’ was in fact a small cramped room containing textbooks piled haphazardly on desks. Attempting to locate the book you were looking for was difficult enough, not to mention the gymnast-style manoeuvres necessary to circumvent mountains of books and cramped desks to actually reach it. And god forbid it was at the bottom of a pile.

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Our first thought was to create a library from any unused existing space in the school, however we quickly realised that at Holy Family Marukusi there are no extra rooms at all; in fact, all of the classrooms are already overcrowded. So, we decided to make the best out of what we had available to us and renovate the existing library into a cleaner, more organised, quiet, safe and useful study space for the students.
We got the contact details for a local carpenter from our Principle, who had previously seen and been impressed by his work in other schools. After negotiating and agreeing on a quotation for the renovation, the work began. We travelled to Webuye, a bigger town nearby, to collect the materials. We were careful to purchase strong and durable materials to ensure the project lasted well into the future. An example of this was choosing to buy blockboard as opposed to timber, which is more expensive but also a more reliable and durable material. The last thing we wanted was for our renovation to crack, break or collapse in the months after we leave the school.

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The installation of the library lasted a total of three days. Over that period, the library was cleared of its contents, cleaned and fitted with 12 shelves and eight desks. After the shelves and desks were installed, we began to brainstorm ways to get the students involved in the renovation to encourage them to use and take care of the finished project. We settled on asking the students to take part in painting the walls, shelves and desks in the school colours (dark green and white), and to draw posters of their favourite books which we could then laminate and place around the room. We were pleased to see several of the Form 4 boy’s eager to help in the painting.

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After the room was cleared, cleaned, fitted with desks and shelves, and painted we moved on to a bigger challenge: putting the books back in an organised manner. We worked with the school librarian to organise the books by subject and by form and began stacking them on the shelves. We arranged the grouping of books around the room by key subjects, electives, story books and revision to make them easy to locate. We then printed off labels for each of the shelves to clearly mark them. Finally, we worked with the librarian to ensure the book inventory was up to date and went over a book borrowing system whereby she makes a record
of when each book is borrowed by a student or staff and when it is returned.

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Our school librarian was eager for this project and said it is something that the school has needed for a long time but has never had the money to see through. Her involvement in the project from the very beginning has made her a key stakeholder in the sustainability of the library in the future. She has taken a lot of pride in helping to create an organised, quiet and safe study space for the students and we are confident she will take good care of the library in the future.

Featuring Ismail, a Fundi who helped with the project

Featuring Ismail, a Fundi who helped with the project