Last October we entered the Support Give-Away Contest for Resource Mate, the library automation program we use at Cebu Children of Hope School. It doesn't sound too glamorous, but we thought it would be worth it to submit the required essay to see if we could win a year of free tech support. The essay had to describe how Resource Mate helps impact our community. Well, we just found out we won the contest!!! Woo Hoo!!!
Here's the essay we submitted:
It’s library day and Eugene wants to check out the next book in the Ranger’s Apprentice series. He looks at the spine label and heads to the “Fla” part of the Fiction section. Juliet wants to check out a Clifford book. She read one in her class and is excited there are more books about Clifford. I help her look in the Easy section and we hunt for the spine labels that have “Bri.” Mary Grace is ready to tackle chapter books and wants to know where to look for ones for girls. I point her in the direction of the Fiction section of books with spine labels that read “Ame” for American Girl books. Maybe she’d like to try a Junie B. Jones book too. The Level B reading class is studying about camouflage. A bunch of the kids ask where to find books about animals that use camouflage. We brainstorm about how to do that and someone remembers that we should search on the Resource Mate computer using the keyword camouflage. The Reading Challenge contest is in full swing. Kids race into the library each day to return their books and check out a new stack to read at home. Teacher Amanda comes into the library looking for books on the theme of risks and consequences. She searches and finds a number of books she can check out and keep in the classroom for the kids to read while they are working on this topic. Teacher Alfie stops in right before leaving for the day to check out some books to read to his girls at home. Sounds like a pretty normal day in the life of a library.
But the library at Cebu Children of Hope School is anything but normal or typical in this city of 866,000 people with one public library. Our library serves the community of children who reside at Children’s Shelter of Cebu, an orphanage in Cebu City, Philippines and the staff who work with the children. All of the children who come to live at Children’s Shelter of Cebu are from the surrounding communities on the island of Cebu or neighboring islands. The vast majority of the children have either never attended school or have attended very little. When the children start attending school at Children of Hope School, they often do not know the letters of the alphabet much less how to read. Usually it is safe to say no one has ever had a book read to them. Needless to say, they have never seen a library.
The children are thrilled to learn what a library is. No one has to convince them how cool it is to browse the shelves of books and check out books to take home to the shelter. Teachers have also often never been inside a proper library. To have an automated system and thousands of books at their fingertips is pretty unbelievable. The children and teachers are taught how to look for books in the library. They learn what spine labels and bar codes are and how the books are organized on the shelves. They are taught how to search for books by title, author, subject, or keyword. The children hover around the Resource Mate computer in the library eager to have their books scanned so they can start reading their selections.
Most of the children who come through the doors of the shelter and school are adopted either locally or internationally. Currently the children have been adopted into families in fourteen different countries around the world. The experience and knowledge gained at our school and in our library goes with them to their new countries, communities, and families.
On the surface, the little library at Cebu Children of Hope School seems pretty normal, but every day really is a little bit miraculous in our slice of the world on the tiny island of Cebu in the Pacific Ocean.