Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Tale of Two Libraries

Peace Corps Volunteers who are teaching are often asked to also take care of, or set up, a library at their schools. As a person who is a "library-aholic" I'm always looking for libraries to visit. Any library! There are two libraries on the eastern end of Tongatapu that I was particularly eager to see, and both are run by PCVs who are leaving this month, so it was time. My Peace Corps Program Manager suggested that we go together, and the date was set. Field trip!

Our first stop: the Nakolo Community Learning Center.
To my knowledge there is only one community library on Tongatapu, and it was set up and is currently being run by a PCV. Her town officer was the force behind it, and he actually built on a room to his house to have the library (learning center) in his town of 400 people. He used a lot of recycled materials to build it, such as wood from shipping containers. (BTW: The town officer is 80 years old.) The Volunteer has gathered all the materials and books through donations of both books and money. As it is a community library, the collection has special needs as it is for all ages. There is a nice collection of children's books as well as fiction and nonfiction for adults. She found out what the members of the community would like to have, and planned accordingly, for example, textbooks and dictionaries. The nonfiction collection is arranged by the Dewey Decimal System as well as the books having colored stickers by subject, to make it easier for shelving after the PCV is gone.

Inside the learning center.

Inside the learning center and browsing for books. It's orderly, attractive and inviting.
 The second library we visited is part of Olive College (high school), which is a Wesleyan school. It's fun to see the differences in each library, often depending on the emphasis placed by the PCV. This one has nice windows with a view to the ocean (WOW) so it's bright and cheerful, as well has having neat shelves of books and displays and posters. She also has a small puzzle and game collection that she finds the students like and it's something completely new to them.  There are tables and chairs for the students to use for reading and study. 

Welcome to the Olive College library.
Nice displays. It's a bright and welcoming room.

Positive messages and books to browse.

A room with a view: that's the ocean out there.
 We talked at length about how they went about running the libraries and their ideas and thinking. The libraries are very different from each other, but each is fulfilling the needs of the patrons and starting to encourage, not only reading, but the gaining of knowledge and understanding. How wonderful to open new doors, in more ways than one!

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