Akshara Foundation has a network of libraries in schools and communities to encourage and sustain a reading habit among children and is a key part of Akshara Foundation's strategy of improving learning outcomes among children. The libraries are well stocked with books and computers and provide access to learning resources that the children do not have in their own homes. Akshara's library programme started in 2005.
The Library Programme aims to make every child in every government primary school a member of a library and bring in methodologies to ensure that they are reading well. To this end, the goals of the programme are:
- Provide support to institutionalize, structure, co-ordinate and organize sustainable library services for every child in all government primary schools in Bangalore
- Provide quality resources (books, computers, innovative learning activities) in these libraries
- Create tools to measure the impact of the programme - both process data and child assessment data are collected and analysed
- To make the results of the programme available in the public domain on the Karnataka Learning Partnership website www.klp.org.in
- Once the libraries have been established and have been running successfully for some time, hand over the libraries to the Education Department who can sustain the programme
- To document the efforts to enable replication in other parts of the state and indeed in other states
The programme has been very successful and all the government primary school children in Bangalore have access to a library with Akshara's "hub and spoke" model. A library period has been worked into the weekly time-table for every child in the schools. Thousands of books have been provided in 6 languages (Kannada, Urdu, English, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi) and they have been graded according to a heuristic method into six Reading Levels, based on the amount of text and pictures per page. Hundreds of librarians have been trained to set up and manage libraries and create a love for reading and books among children. An impact assessment of the Library Programme has also been done using a randomized evaluation of the system with treatment and control groups of schools to make the assessment. Some of the libraries have also been transitioned to the government.