3.4.16 – Volunteer Librarian
Sand Castle Library & Bookmobiles, Bay Islands, Honduras
Sarah P’s comments: As promised, here is the review of Cate Carlyle’s recent volunteer trip to the Bay Island of Honduras. This was an opportunity I posted last year after I received an introductory e-mail from the Director. From the start Cate worked hard to make this opportunity work for her. She corresponded about how best to help the library and the best times to go and then found time in her busy schedule. I am glad the result was an overall positive experience and I hope this paves the way for other librarians to volunteers there as well.
I spent this past week, Study Break Week at the university where I work, volunteering in the Sandcastle Library on the island of Roatan Honduras. I covered my own travel and accommodation costs and used personal holiday time away from work. With the help of a generous donation from Mount saint Vincent University’s Faculty of Child & Youth Study, as well as the monetary donations and donations of school supplies from colleagues, friends and family, I was able to take two extra suitcases of school supplies and ship Spanish childrens’ books and readers to Roatan as well. These books and supplies were very much appreciated by the Partners in Education Roatan (PIER (http://www.pierroatan.org/) and Sandcastle Library staff. The kitchen timers (used to train teachers on how long to plan and deliver lessons in the classroom) and the magnifying glasses I donated were of particular interest, while scotch tape are markers are precious commodities as well. The staff also proudly wore the Nova Scotia and Canada tartan lanyards I took down for them. I worked from 9am to 4pm most days organizing and cleaning the library, classifying the collection and assisting staff with the translation of language arts lesson plans and the integration of games into lesson planning. I also conducted a brief PD session with staff on book talks, conducting read-alouds, reading response, promoting and modeling reading and selecting materials for children.
There are no other public libraries on the island and only one school library. SandcastleLibrary was created in a former resort dive centre, by an ex-pat couple, for the community of Sandy Bay. The PIER President, Cam O’Brien, and Sandcastle staff (shout out to the amazing Celaura in the library) are incredible people; all highly motivated, generous, caring and committed to improving the quality of life on the island. Plans are in the works to move the library closer to town, off the beach, and to increase its size, scope and influence. PIER also runs two bookmobiles which travel to local schools and PIER and the library staff work on training local teachers in more current educational practices. The island does not have a newspaper, parents share the belief with their children that “reading makes you crazy”, and most reading is of the Bible (learned by rote). Reading for pleasure and reading comprehension are two of the hurdles the staff face when promoting literacy on the island. This year, PIER is facing an extra hurdle of trying to keep their second bookmobile on the road. They face a cost of $4000 US to keep the bookmobile running to the schools with books and staff eager to engage with children, promote literacy and model modern teaching methods for the teachers. Monetary donations are desperately needed in order to keep this program running.
Geckos on the bookmobile, in the books and on the shelves, mouse droppings, and biting bugs were a new challenge for me (bugs and geckos in the bed also made sleeping a bit tricky). I was able to initiate a “Get Caught Reading” campaign which the library will soon implement, as well as plant the seeds for an open house/community day to try to dispel some of the negative images which the parents have of the library and reading.