11 October, 2018, 3:52 pm
JONE Batiwale is a resident of Naisausau Village in Namara where the district school is located. He had volunteered to upgrade and refurbish the school library which had been left in neglect for 30 odd years. This is his story.
The idea to engage in the library project came about during a kava session with the then school manager, Usaia Radrokai and a few teachers back in 2015.
The fact that this is my mother’s village and with my 24 years of experience working at the University of the South Pacific (USP) Library, I felt it my duty to offer my services, and give back to the community.
Added to that I had lived in Nabua, Kameli Place for more than 50 years and come from Wainika Village, Udu Point, Tawake Cakaudrove.
The work began in 2015, with the physical cleaning of the library, weeding, the collection of everything and anything ranging from ripped books, newspapers, infested encyclopedias, old calendars, boxes and so on. Following this, we carried out the painting and building of the double-faced wooden shelves, bench tables and bench seats.
I worked on the project part-time after my shift work at the USP library and in the weekends. I sought assistance from skilled village carpenters, joiners and people who freely offered their service. The project was completed before 2016.
To date, the library has no trained officer but a voluntary librarian in Ms Lenny Waqa , whose daughter is now Head Girl at the school. Ms Lenny works full time helping out in the library.
The books collection are organised and divided according to classes reading levels from Year one to Year eight. There are a separate Reference collection, Pacific Collection and a Leisure Reading space for children.
I coordinated the book drive which is a major part of the school library collection on Social Media (Facebook). In addition, the Library Service Fiji also helped in assisting our library.
In the future, we would like to include the entire community and secondary school students who can use the space to study in the evenings, for reading, or storytelling.
I continue to liaise with the current Namara District School Manager, Mr Wasale Bakalevu and School Head Teacher Mr Matai Tumaitoga for the development of the Namara District School library.
To conclude the experience and knowledge gained in working at the USP library needs to be put to good use and shared with our people and our community.
By doing this the people will know the value and importance of our work in contributing to an educated community.
I want to make the library a source of learning and knowledge. I would like to thank my colleagues Judith Titoko, Susie Rollings, Jade Moore and the USP Librarian Elizabeth Reade Fong for their help and professional advice in making this project work.