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The potential of community libraries in supporting literate environments and sustaining literacy skills

Abstract

This article shows how community libraries can create and support literate environments, which are essential for building and sustaining literacy skills in local communities. The paper begins with a subject analysis reviewing available background materials and literature on the topic. Next, relevant issues are considered based on experiences and impact evaluations from specific community libraries, namely Nepal’s Rural Education and Development (READ) Centres. The findings indicate that since their foundation in 1991, READ Centres have evolved from traditional libraries to effective community development centres with a strong focus on social empowerment, economic development and lifelong learning, based on a library concept which is needs-based, community-owned and sustainable.

Résumé

Potentiel des bibliothèques communautaires pour promouvoir les environnements lettrés et consolider l’alphabétisme – Cet article démontre comment les bibliothèques communautaires peuvent créer et favoriser les environnements lettrés, indispensables pour introduire et consolider l’alphabétisme dans les communautés locales. Les auteures procèdent tout d’abord à une analyse en recensant la documentation de référence disponible en la matière. Elles examinent ensuite des questions décisives à partir des expériences et évaluations d’impact de bibliothèques communautaires particulières, à savoir les centres d’éducation et de développement rural au Népal (Rural Education and Development, READ). Leurs conclusions indiquent que depuis leur création en 1991, les bibliothèques traditionnelles READ sont devenues des centres efficaces de développement local fortement axés sur l’autonomisation sociale, le développement économique et l’apprentissage tout au long de la vie, sur la base d’un concept de bibliothèque durable, répondant aux besoins et appartenant à la communauté.

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Notes

  1. IRE 35(4).

  2. For an overview, see Easton 2014b, pp. 19–31.

  3. CODE-Ethiopia is part of the Canadian Organization for Development through Education (CODE) and is involved in supporting community libraries in Ethiopia. For more information, see http://www.codecan.org/ and http://www.eifl.net/code-ethiopia.

  4. A map showing the locations of the Centres is available on the Nepal page of READ Global at http://www.readglobal.org/our-work/read-nepal.

  5. A number of READ Centres have savings co-operatives, an aspect we will come back to later in the article.

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Correspondence to Lisa Krolak.

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Shrestha, S., Krolak, L. The potential of community libraries in supporting literate environments and sustaining literacy skills. Int Rev Educ 61, 399–418 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11159-014-9462-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11159-014-9462-9

Keywords

  • Community libraries
  • Literate environment
  • Adult literacy
  • Women's empowerment
  • Community development
  • READ Nepal