The Community Library Project believes all people should have access to books. We are a low-cost, volunteer-driven, citizen initiative. We are committed to the work of building the movement for a publicly owned library system that is accessible to all.
Working in collaboration with Deepalaya NGO, we started our first library in the Ramditti J R Narang Deepalaya Learning Center in New Delhi's Sheikh Sarai in January 2015. Our library is truly a community library in that it is member owned, free, and open to all.
The library has successfully enrolled a diverse membership of which a significant portion is first-generation learners. The primary methodology for promoting reading is the dozens of read-alouds that members and volunteers conduct throughout the week. The read-alouds demonstrate reading as thinking; readers move from their limited utilitarian understanding of reading to a more expansive one that is pleasurable and empowering. Our Honour Roll Programme celebrates members 18 and younger as they achieve milestones in their reading journey.
The library serves as a learning lab for developing best practices and programmes that promote reading, especially for first-generation readers, for all who have limited access to reading, and for all who wish to read. The library also serves as a model for anyone wishing to create similar libraries. Through this website the library will provide open-source pedagogy, curriculum, and other resources that are key to promoting community libraries and reading in Delhi and beyond.
The library is also an engine for creating new community libraries. It has created a community library for Deepalaya in Sanjay Colony and is set to create one more in 2017 in Gole Kuan. It is also working with Agrasar to create a community library in Sikandarpur, Gurgaon.
The mission and vision statement for The Community Library Project:
Our Mission: The Community Library Project is animated by the idea that all people should have access to books and thinking through books. It is particularly concerned to provide an inclusive space for members to come together to articulate their ideas, opinions, questions and issues. We see ourselves as part of a library movement built on democratic values. All people irrespective of class, caste, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability and religion are welcome in the library.
Membership in the library allows individuals to borrow books at no cost. The work of sustaining the library and the responsibility for growing the library movement by founding more libraries is borne by library members who interact through democratic governance structures such as the Library Student Council and the Leadership Council. Through the Leadership Council, volunteers and staff are responsible for developing the leadership potential of all library members so that their participation can be on par with that of volunteers and staff. Every attempt is made to ensure that books in the library's collection and the composition of the library's membership and leadership is reflective of the diversity of the community in which the library is based.
Our vision: Our vision of a more equitable and thoughtful society can be realised through our mission to empower all members of our society with access to books and the possibility of thinking through books. By expanding access to books we will promote greater reasoning, analysis, critical and imaginative thinking so that our society is one characterised by increasing freedom to introspect, gain self-awareness, debate and express ourselves.