Empowering children with the power of books

Empowering children with the power of books

One of its kind library and bookstore that makes the concept of fun with leaning come together under one roof at the ‘One Up’ library in New Delhi is the brainchild of Dalbir Kaur, who is passionate about libraries and has initiated an award to recognise best librarians

Dalbir Kaur Madan is a lifelong learner and a bibliophile. In 2011, she created the first state-of-the-art 'One Up' library, bookstore and experience centre in Amritsar and the second in New Delhi on August, 2017.

She launched a special award dedicated to her mentor, 'Bandana Sen Library Award', to encourage and celebrate works of librarians in schools (for which, entries are open till September 5, 2019).

She believes libraries are the epicentre of all learning: they are a perfect setting for trying out new ideas and innovations. She says, "Unfortunately, many schools, even today, don't pay adequate attention to innovative practices, or to make attempts to initiate kids into the world of books.

It takes a lot of commitment, passion for that. BCLA aims to celebrate that, to set role models, by empowering and encouraging the work of librarians and teacher-librarians who deserve recognition."

About the Bandana Sen Library Awards, she says, "The award is a tribute to Bandana Sen, a pioneer in children's libraries and reading programs in India.

It aims to serve, to recognize and honour Librarian/Teacher Librarian and school heads, who nurture the readers in their learning ecosystems. They are the unsung heroes of our education system and have a mammoth role to play."

Dalbir's tryst with books goes back a long way and her work, closely associated with education system made her realise the void that needed to be filled,"Working with Bandana Sen, my exposure to education system abroad, my work with schools in Amritsar and Delhi brought out the need to work in this ignored sphere.

The need for rejuvenating our school libraries into world-class standards inspired me to do something in this space," says Dalbir.

The road she has taken has not been easy. "Driving any kind of change is a challenge in our society and there are innumerable hurdles. The first challenge is to foster trust.

As a small entrepreneur, who genuinely wants to give something back to the society, and envisions a change, has to prove her intent to everyone. The biggest challenge is to alter people's mindset to pave way for such an award," she shares.

In today's times, children don't need the traditional cobwebbed libraries and child-friendly spaces are a must to give wings to their imagination.

With hundreds of distractions around, a dreary library is the last thing on a child's mind. To catch their attention and keep interests alive in reading and books, this is imperative.

On why an award for a librarian, she relates, "When readers get together, celebrate reading, it provides an opportunity to nurture a greater imprint of a child's journey as a reader.

Also, library spaces are important today, given the number of books that are written; and, it's crucial for the librarian to guide the parents and children about the selection process, catering with customized solutions.

I believe the library to be a third environment where a child is nurtured beyond home and school, to be a life-long learner," she says.

She started her OneUp Library, because of her desire to work with children, to empower them, because she says reading has changed her as a person.

"For me a book is a process. I feel that every reader has the ability to transform himself through books.

I was very clear, if there was anything, I was passionate about, it was reading, facilitating and nurturing reading – what better way than a library? I always wanted to start a library, it was a dream for me, and I am living it!"

"My inspiration stems from a lot of books, people that I meet because of One Up, children that I see every day.

My environment, my love for this field, my professional training, my love of books, for libraries– all of these inspire me.

Also from the fact that I have raised my children as readers! When I see as a mother what reading has to done for them, it is immensely satisfying and continues to inspire me to pass on 'the gift of reading' to not few, but to as many children as possible.

Bandana Sen's work and my interaction with her on the concept of libraries was also an inspiration," she adds.

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