October 1, 2007

The Library Project provides its first library to a countryside elementary school in China

Everyone at The Library Project is very excited to announce that we have provided our first library to a countryside elementary school in China. The Xin Xing Elementary School is located about an hour from the city center of Xi’an, in the ShaanXi Province.

There are over 500 students in grades 1-6 that attend the Xin Xing Elementary School. One third of the students that attend Xin Xing Elementary School are Worker children. Worker people are those that do manual labor in China. Their jobs can be anything from building highways to building apartment blocks. They tend to be migratory, going where the work is. Because the area around the Xin Xing Elementary School was declared a Special Development Zone by the Central Government, there has been an influx of Worker Families and their children. As you can imagine, this puts an added strain on the school budget that the administration must balance at the Xin Xing Elementary School.

Even with this added strain, the Xin Xing Elementary School has an incredible school administration with the Vice Principal, Mr. Zhong, playing a key player. We met Mr. Zhong one day during the 2007 summer break when we showed up unannounced and he welcomed us at the gate. He was alone, cleaning the school in preparation for the approaching fall semester.

During our pre assessment we found the school library located in an uninviting room on the fourth floor of the school. Even though plaster was falling off the walls, the books they had were all very well kept, arranged on new bookshelves the Central Government had just provided. Their collection of books numbered 3,000. This sounds like a very impressive number, but the books they had in the library were almost completely inappropriate for the children attending the elementary school. Most books were written for high school or university students, or were published in the 1980s and were showing their age. There were no more than 50 children’s books for grades 1-3. The library room also lacked any comfortable furniture for the children sit on.

On September 25, 2007, The Library Project along with their partner Aston English, provided 500 children’s books for grades 1-3, and also a child-safe reading area with comfortable and colorful furniture for the children to sit on to read a book. We provided children’s books on history, science, short stories, fairy tales, “pinyin” books for very young readers, children’s dictionaries, children’s reference books, and an assortment of comic books. We also provided a full set of children’s encyclopedias for the older students. Every book was in full color and of the highest quality. The Library Project provided colorful child-safe tables and chairs, posters for the wall and a globe to fill out the previously empty room. After the furniture and books were set up, we held a party to celebrate the children’s new library. Twenty “star” students were chosen to participate in arts, crafts and games. One of our activities was to draw your “dream library”. We learned that most children want a library that is located outside, and that has colorful books that float in the air. Everyone had a great time!

Most importantly, the administration really saw how much the children enjoyed their new library. The Xin Xing Elementary School administration has made a plan to make sure every class has an opportunity to use the library once a week.

Without a doubt The Library Project has improved the level of education that the school provides to its students.