(3 Minute Read)
Just to give a brief introduction on how the Library came to be, I would have to mention the Star Kids Initiative, a community-based organization that works with children to introduce them to a growing relationship with Christ and to enable their access to quality education. The Star Kids Initiative partnered with the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), to build a school library.
Now that I am done with the formalities I would like to get to the tale of The Library from my point of view as a part time Librarian.
When you think Librarian, you probably picture an old lady wearing her glasses on her nose looking at people sternly and shouting “SHHHH, BE SILENT, “at the top of her lungs. Let me guess, you got this depiction from some Hollywood movie you watched as a kid? Well my story is a little different. Firstly, I am a girl in her mid-twenties working in a school with over 1000 students as a part time librarian. Although to be fair, I do shout, “KEEP QUIET” at the top of my lungs from time to time. My experience as a librarian has been quite interesting to say the least.
A typical day starts with me seated at my desk, filled with excitement and a bit of anxiety as the break time bell rings. The school breaks are the official working hours for the library. The first students come in, most of the time in groups of two or more with big smiles on their faces and some with the occasional look of confusion, asking if they could read a book. I jot their names down and allow them to peruse through the books on the shelf. Five minutes later I am now dealing with 20 students. Another 10 minutes go by all of a sudden I have over 50 students standing in line awaiting their turn to go through the book shelves looking to borrow a book that captures their interest.
Interestingly most of the students’ selections are from the story book section, picking books such as The Wise Judge, Mariamu goes Shopping, Wasia wa Maskini or the ever so popular Sungura Mjanja. I noted this on my first day when the first student walked in, let’s call him Kamau.
So in comes Kamau, a young confident boy, he storms in to the library, casually greets me and asks loudly, “LIBRARY IMEFUNGULIWA?” At this point I’m ecstatic to see the first student. Although I thought to myself, this student seems rowdy and lacks manners, he may be trouble. Little did I know that he would be one of the frequent Library users. He borrowed a comic book, Asterix and the Black Gold, and was in disbelief that he could leave with it and return it later. When he was done he returned the book, then he borrowed another.
Since the first day, he has been borrowing books frequently with each book having more meaning to him. He was learning life lessons, with or without his knowledge. Who knows what impact it may have in shaping his future. What I saw was a shift in attitude, he came in more calm, patient and had some respect for the library. And this is just one student, there are many more students like Kamau whose lives are being shaped by the stories told in these books. Here, in the confines of the school library is where I came to learn the importance of a good story and the many possibilities it can present to a young mind.
A good story can have an immense impact on an individual, it could be something as simple as reminding Kyalo or Waithera to say thank you when someone does something helpful or, it could be something as complex as shaping ones’ perspective of the world. Through stories, we can escape from our realities and share passions, fears, sadness, hardships and joys with other people which allows us to connect. All in all, a good story is powerful.
George R.R Martin said it best in his Game of Thrones book series, “a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”