Friends Library is now open for business!

A group of Avasara Leadership Fellows came up with a ‘big idea’ a few months ago. They decided that they wanted to start a community lending library in Dharavi, where they live, and give the opportunity to other children to develop a love of reading. The girls came up with this idea, and are implementing it, as a part of their Avasara leadership project.

Months of hard work came to fruition on Saturday 1st February, with the inauguration of Friends Library. The day was a huge success, with over 100 visitors to the library during opening hours! The vast majority of visitors were children from Dharavi, whose eyes shone with delight at the array of books available to read. Parents, community members, school teachers and well-wishers also stopped by to congratulate the ALF library team on this exciting milestone.

Have a look at the following photos and get a glimpse into the energy and excitement of the inaugural day!

This is the entrance to the library. Space is hard to come by in Dharavi, and rooms are stacked above each other. Once you climb these stairs, you find yourself in the literary world of Friends Library!
Library team members– Monisha, Joba and Vanitha– enter the library after climbing up the stairs. Anticipation levels are high, only 45 minutes left till the library opens!
Visitors start to flock to the library, leaving their shoes downstairs
The library team in the midst of their fantastic inaugural speech, which they did in three languages—English, Tamil and Hindi! They wanted to cater to their different audiences, i.e. community members, parents, children and teachers
Books were catalogued according to age group and genre, allowing children to choose books according to their age group and interest
These children read and discussed their book together
These girls from a neighbourhood school popped into the library, and then stayed there for two hours reading their books
Joba helps this young reader to fill out his library membership card, so he can borrow his first book!
These avid readers had to be asked to leave at 4pm, i.e. closing time. They left reluctantly, already making plans to return the next day.

Congratulations to the library team for their resilience in the face of many obstacles, and their perseverance with this project; it is truly inspiring that they have managed to start this library. Their next challenge will be to sustain and develop Friends Library over the next 6 months. Watch this space, we’ll keep you posted!

Harshitha, Joba, Mansi, Menaga, Monisha, Nafisa, Sweety, Vanitha—well done to you all, and congratulations again!


    • Leslie, it’s lovely that you’re supporting your peers 🙂 Look forward to seeing your leadership project too!

  1. Hi, I work for, a social news site based in Malaysia. We just came across the Friends Library project and covered it in our Friday column section, here:

    I would like to know how can someone willing to donate books to the Friends Library can reach them in the slum? Is there an address where the books can be mailed from other Indian cities? If not, what other medium can be used? Please suggest, as we have received few responses from people after reading the story on that they would like to help by donating books to the Friends Library.


  2. Its so good to read this..and trust me it’s making me feel so proud..that I was one of the member of the Library team…Tamara mam and mangala mam hope this reading room is going well now…please contact me or share ur personal mail..I badly need to know about our leadership work so far

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