My younger sibling invited me to help set up a children’s library in Ketanggan Village, Central Java, Indonesia. I remember the beginning. The village gave us a place to use, but most of the first books were used, given by our family and friends. We could count the library visitors on our fingers, and all the work was done by volunteers. This did not dampen our enthusiasm, however. We kept the library open on schedule.
I began to feel a glimmer of hope when I heard some of the children who came regularly clearly ask for the title of a book they wanted to borrow to read at home. Our little steps were paying off. Slowly, they invited their other friends and the library started to get busy. Although it is still too early to conclude, I think children need a library to get proper reading in a safe and comfortable play space.
This journey brought us together with other friends who shared the same dream, to make books accessible to children. Meeting new people brought new ideas for developing the library. One of those ideas came from meeting with friends from the Peace Culture Movement. But the idea that came was far beyond our imagination when we first started the library.
Like any human being, our librarians are experiencing growth and development. New ideas emerge slowly. Now we are learning to make our library not only a place to find books, but also a place to learn about friendship and peace.
In our fourth year of the Kentanggan Children’s Library, we are increasingly committed to building a culture of peace. Every activity, reading material and every conversation that happens in the library reflects a culture of peace.
Children are not the only ones who gain benefits. I also have gained a lot of knowledge and had many opportunities to practice a culture of peace in my daily life. I now feel like I not only have a library, not only do we have books, but we also have the opportunity to build a culture, a civilization.