Special Feature: Bangladesh Shishu Academy Library: A Green Library for the Children!
Mukta, Dhaka, 23 September 2018
Bangladesh Shishu Academy is a unique government organization in Bangladesh in terms of serving for children’s latent talent, nurturing cultural, mental and physical health. It offers multi-cultural and educational activities for the children and young adults.
The academy was established in 1976 as an autonomous body to encourage children to the Bangladeshi culture. The head office is located at ‘Doyel Chattar’ and very close to the University of Dhaka.
A few years ago, the academy renovated their library with modern facilities, well-equipment, modern amenities for the children including Kid’s Corner, Bangabandhu Corner, and Audio – Visual & Room Theater and so on. The Shishu Academy central library renamed to Sheikh Russel Children Library for remembering Sheikh Russel, the youngest son of the Father of the Nation in Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Initially, the library’s space was not being utilized properly for its old infrastructure. Razina Akhter, the head of the library with her substantial supervision and contribution, had able to get budget for the development of library infrastructure from the revenue fund of the government of Bangladesh.
To develop the library infrastructures of the Shishu Academy under the project ‘Strengthen of Library Automation and Digitization’, the academy decided to renovate their head office library and strengthen the 70 branches libraries around the country. As a part of this project, they organized a planning workshop with library professionals who were working with different branches of the Shishu Academy on KOHA (open source library management software) and DSpace (open source repository software). The estimated project’s duration was June 2014 to June 2018.
Syeda Tuhin Ara Karim (Aupee Karim), leading actress, model and dancer, and senior artist Abhijit Chowdhury designed the library layout
Prior to this plan, the library was not as friendly as they wanted for the children and other users. Finally, Syeda Tuhin Ara Karim (AupeeKarim), leading actress, model and dancer, and senior artist Abhijit Chowdhury and the team designed the library layout thinking about modern children libraries after a lot of studies. This library is also called ‘Green Library’ which also known as a sustainable library. The Green Library is built thinking environmental concerns in mind. The library is the place where awareness can grow up with environmental issues. The natural sunlight and natural air flows; structural design, energy, and human health effects are concerning issues of this library among others.
According to the official definition, ages 0 to 18 are considered as children. Thinking of 0-18 year’s children and young adults, the library is divided into three sections as their demands and choices are totally different from one to another. As Bangladesh has lack of publications and recreational activities for the early childhood children, the head of the library Ms Razina Akhter started a ‘Kid’s Corner’ for storytelling, Lego, puzzles with safe and secured zone for the 3 to 5 years children in the library.
This library is designed with a three-dimensional shape for the children and young adults!
“This library is designed into three-dimensional shape for the children and young adults. Children can think it’s a dinosaur or web because now it’s time of WWW. “We always think and consider children’s age in terms of the library collection development. We divided the collections into three different sections i.e. aged 3-5, aged 6-10 and aged 11-18 for the children and young adults,” -said Ms Razina.
The library has a rich collection of books including Bangla and English. Currently, the library contains around 37000 titles. Bangladesh Shishu Academy has own publications and published resources are sent to the local branch libraries of Shishu Academy on regular basis. Any child aged 4-18 can be a member of this library paying a one-time fee of Taka 100.00 only. More than 4,000 members visit this library and use its vast resources.
Children shouldn’t have felt about charging them for books or stealing books from the library
Ms Razina added that “she doesn’t like to implement RFID system because of the children’s feelings for the books and libraries. Children shouldn’t have felt about charging them for books or stealing books from the library. They will touch the books; feel the books; love the books and eager to read the books.”
The library opens at 10:00 AM and closes at 5:00 PM for the whole week. A strong library team around 10 members are working in this library under the supervision of Ms Razina Akhter. She has been working as a head of the library for more than 22 years. Ms Razinais is an ALA member since 2010, standing committee member of IFLA, Vice- Chairperson of BALID, also a life member of LAB and Bangla Academy. Recently, she has started to work on Picture books and best practice project with Japan.
Libraries are not only for reading books or coming and going only!
Ms Razina believes that, Libraries are not only for reading books or coming and going only. It’s beyond the library by involving more cultural activities running with educational programs’. Shishu Academy library organized a number of cultural activities and educational program including Debate Competitions, Quiz Competitions, Creative Writing Workshop (Bangla & English), Children Film Making Workshop, Boi Pora Utshab, Bangla Banan Uccharan, Mousumi Competition, Parte Parte Boro Hoi etc. The library also organises book fair for the children in the Shishu Academy premises.
Courtesy: Ms RazinaAkhter, Head of the Library
Bangladesh Shishu Academy