How do you start a library? …Just ask our Fellows!

Have you ever found yourself devouring new books, excitedly turning pages to get to the end of the story? ALF students are discovering how wonderful it can be to lose yourself in a book. So when the time came to brainstorm project ideas for their leadership class, a group of girls decided to start a library in their community, Dharavi. They started off with a simple idea: let’s find a way for children in our community to access books, and to develop a love for reading.

The girls have some distance to go before they can make their dreams a reality. They need to do a multitude of different things: raise funds to rent a small space for their library, organize book drives, publicize and market their library to people in their community, plan literacy activities to facilitate with library members, amongst many other tasks. We’ll keep you posted on how things go! For now, have a look at the exciting journey so far.

Students did a visioning exercise as part of the process to make their action plan
The vision and action plan were created collectively, by sharing and commenting on each other’s thoughts and ideas

Students explored and shortlisted spaces in Dharavi that they could use for the library. They wanted to find a small space that could house the library books, as well as allow them to facilitate activities, such as reading groups and book clubs.

Space is limited in Dharavi–homes are built right by each other, and are also stacked above each other. The photograph below shows the entrance to one possible option for the library, up a flight of stairs. It’s a cosy space, at the top of a steep climb!

ALF students explore a potential space for their library

Students also explored other options, specifically looking for a room which is easily accessible. The photograph below shows another potential space, which students are keen to rent once the current tenants (also featured in the photo below) move out next month.

ALF students are interested in renting this space for their library

Students have also made concerted efforts at book drives. They aim to expand their book collection, and ensure that their library can cater to children of varied age groups. They’re also working on a website to promote their project and raise funds—critical for them to be able to pay the rent for the space.

We expect that the library will be up and running early in the new year–of course we’ll blog again soon to keep you updated on this fantastic leadership project!


  1. Mangala, this made an interesting read. It also took me back to a time, when we were facing a similar issue of setting up a library in a local primary school run for the jhuggi children. To capitalise on the limited space, we bought a huge cupboard made of rot iron with glass doors, it’s size ran across the wall, in height and width. It had a number of shelves. And we filled it with books and books, and it seemed that we maximised the use of the wall.
    ALF is doing a fantastic job.

  2. Thank u so much for all the teachers for teaching us every lesson with fun n enjoyable experiments. This was a Success plan n Avasara’s library is working since 1 year in dharavi..Children are very fascinated to it n also the students of Avasara are taking care of it so much every week along with their high schedule of studies. This is what we see in our avasara students. We build up our skills n qualities to be perseverant, hardworking n try as much as possible to gain knowlege n all these things were possible only due to our wonderful teachers. Thank u so much teachers of Avasara leadership fellows..Love u all..

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