After a couple of weeks of hiatus, the Book Bus project hit the ground running this week, putting the first part of our plan in motion. The El Progreso library is going to serve as our first community “Reading Corner” site, and this week we were able to start work on the library. But first, we had to get organized and find a little help from other community members. Part of starting up a new project includes spreading word about the project, and creating the necessary promotional materials to share ideas and gain support. This week we were able to receive some support through GAIAS, the Galapagos Institute for the Arts and Sciences, who assisted us in gathering cleaning supplies.
|Hacienda volunteers working hard|
Once funds were obtained and cleaning supplies were purchased, it was only a matter of finding enough volunteers to tackle the library in the one day that we had set aside for cleaning. Again, we were lucky to find support in the GAIAS community, as a number of students and English teachers volunteered their Wednesday to the project. Combined with the fantastic volunteers at Hacienda Tranquila, who agreed to help us out for the day, we were a force of over 20 volunteers who, partnered with the library staff, spent the day working to clean up the library. It was a good thing we had so many people, because we still barely accomplished what we were hoping to, even with all that hard work.
At the start of the day, we split into two groups, those working inside, and those working outside. The outside group had the task of weeding the entrance to the library and making the path to the library from the street more noticeable and user friendly. Weeding was no easy task, as there were pesky nettles hiding among the weeds and biting bugs lying in wait, but the front of the library looks like new, and certainly much more inviting. As the day progressed, and weeding moved to the sides of the building, volunteers also started cleaning the outside of the building, trying to prepare it for a fresh, new coat of paint. Using brooms and brushes, our volunteers covered the perimeter of the library, brushing and scrubbing, removing old paint and mold from the walls.
|Look at all those weeds!|
The work inside of the library concentrated on reorganization. The books in the library were in no particular order, and in order to inventory the books and make the library more user friendly, reorganization was imperative. With ten people inside the library, we took all the books off the shelves and started to categorize them into different subjects and materials. We were impressed and surprised at the treasures we found in the library. Volumes of classic literature, books on organic chemistry, a whole wall of encyclopedias, books outlining Ecuadorian policies and laws, books on art museums in Madrid, how to do jujitsu, and just about everything you could find in between. We also put together all the children’s books, and discovered that there were enough to constitute a whole side room dedicated solely to young readers. It was like going on a treasure hunt. Once all the books were off the shelves, we gave the shelves a thorough scrubbing, the books a nice dusting, and then placed all the books back in their new categories. The categories were later labeled, so that when patrons come to the library, they’ll be able to search for any topics that may interest them. The new organization system will also make including new books much easier. The books took all day, and then a little extra, but it was a huge first step towards making the El Progreso library more user friendly for the local population.
All this hard work from the volunteers did not go without thanks, as we had a fantastic lunch of wood-fired pizzas at Hacienda Tranquila, when we were all at our breaking point from dust and nettles. Thank you so much to all of our volunteers, both from GAIAS and from Hacienda Tranquila (including those who stayed at the Hacienda to help prepare and cleanup after our amazing lunch!), and a huge thank you to GAIAS for funding our efforts. None of this work would have been accomplished without everyone’s collaboration. The work continues this upcoming week, as (drumroll….) it’s painting time! Tune in next weekend to see the next step in our revitalization project, some shiny new walls for the El Progreso library!
|The finished fiction section|
|The new path|
|The finished children's room|