Hailing from an educated family from Mumbai, mostly with teachers and engineers, Ms. Manisha Lilani,
is currently a librarian cum teacher in The Vatsalya School, Pune. She has done her B.Sc in two subjects and has 15 years of experience in teaching Maths and Science subjects. She has worked in Mumbai for 5 years and since then she has been teaching in Pune. She had just then done her Diploma in Library Science as part time course and she accepted the offer from the school to work as librarian and a teacher for Science and Maths.
As an avid reader herself, Ms. Manisha says to be a good librarian, one “should know about the books in the markets, availability of latest ones” and the companies who supply books. She was in very good touch with the companies and came to know about very good introductory books for teachers only. She says she encourages “the students to read about the latest technology” and “I also encourage them to read books that are more important.”
She believes in giving library homework depending on the work on Science and Maths. Quiz programs are conducted for lower classes for whom she suggests going through charts and books on vegetables and fruits. During the quiz programs she will come to know if the students have read the books or not and act accordingly.
She talks about the library in The Vatsalya School at length and says that there are about 4 to 5 thousand books which include puzzles, story books, games, and riddles for the pre-primary and primary classes. The middle classes get Nancy Drew and Enid Blyton apart from spiritual stories from Amar Chitra Katha. There are books on festivals in India. She “will explain what the importance of Shivarathri is and tell them about what it is all about.” For the lower classes, she takes up story telling. She says that it will improve their listening skills and by making them read small paragraphs, their reading skills are also improved.
Ms. Manisha says that the library has a projector also. From mobile they show videos to the children. She narrates how a video on the proverb “slow and steady wins the race” has changed to “fast and steady wins the race” and showed it to the lower class children. They were made to understand the management skills as fast and steady works well. This is only a sample as the school conducts plenty activities and children learn many things apart from reading.
Moving to the higher classes, Ms. Manisha says that the library has many books such as periodicals, full set of general knowledge, encyclopaedia and globe.
The children of this age group “get some liberty” and she “gives them books and asks them to read. Some are interested in reading encyclopaedia while others pick articles and read them.” She is excited that “sometimes they say they want this book. I consult with the Principal and order for those books also.” Ms. Manisha insists that the higher class students should attend the library class once in a week while others at least twice a week. It is compulsory for all the students from 1-12 to attend the library class once in a week. The students have to come and read the books in the library. They do not issue books to them as the group section is small and “we have started this reading session recently.” Also the students “have lots of books at home.
I want them to read something different, something they won’t get on Google and articles. I ask them to a show a particular ocean on the globe-something different they should do.” Though Ms. Manisha is not aware of the budget for the library she says “generally we get the books, place the order after consulting with the vice principal and principal. According to the needs of students, if genuine, we buy.”
Challenges are up to how one handles the situations, says Ms. Manisha. For her, it is essential that the teachers are in touch with the librarian “to encourage students read books on particular subjects.” She concludes “if the teachers and librarian are in contact, teaching and learning become easy and interesting. Children won’t be bored. They will be eager to read and they will want to go to library.”