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Community libraries as platforms for sustainable development
READ Nepal Country Director
For the past 21 years, READ (Rural Education And Development) Global has been active in the building and development of community libraries in rural and remote areas in Bhutan, India and Nepal, establishing 68 libraries in the three countries. With its roots in Nepal, READ has partnered with rural communities to establish 53 libraries (known as READ Centers) all over Nepal. During this time, the READ model for a typical community library has evolved so that it now includes not only library services—books, periodicals, and access to technology and the Internet—but also sections devoted to women's empowerment and early childhood development, venues for community meetings and livelihood and health trainings. In the process, READ Centers have become hubs for a variety of life-changing, community-based activities and programs.
Additionally, a unique and defining element of the READ model is the creation of an associated “for-profit” sustaining enterprise for each library. These enterprises – chosen by the community and ranging from sewing centres to ambulance services to community radio stations – are managed by the local community and generate income to sustain the library in the long term.
Come hear from READ’s Nepal Country Director, Sanjana Shrestha, how the role and the scope of these rural libraries has evolved to meet the changing needs of rural communities, and how these libraries address the critical issue of sustainability.
For more information, visit www.library.illinois.edu/mortenson.