Jericho Library is a World of Learning

October 28, 2013 ANERA
Community Development, Early Childhood Development, Education, Health Education, Information Technology, Job Creation, Music and the Arts, Vocational Training, West Bank
Jericho Library Director May Hilal shows a reader some interesting information in one of the library's 30,000 books. Jericho Library Director May Hilal shows a reader some interesting information in one of the library's 30,000 books.

Jericho Public Library plays an integral role in the education of thousands of children and adults alike. The one-story library lies in the heart of the historic West Bank city, making it accessible to school students and any one of its 27,000 residents seeking knowledge and self-refinement.

Jericho Library now is  a hub of learning for Jericho’s 27,000 residents.  

The building’s four main pillars were originally constructed each in the shape of an open book to stand as an architectural landmark of knowledge and learning. But the building was crumbling and in disrepair.

Thanks to USAID funding and contributions from the community, ANERA completed a new building to take its place in 2005. “This project’s aim was to create a safe and stimulating reading, learning and research environment that would propel the level of education in Jericho and surrounding villages,” explains Mazen Dabbagh, ANERA’s project manager, who supervised the construction of the building and its new location. The project was part of ANERA’s infrastructure program Job Opportunities through Basic Services.

Outside view of Jericho's new library built by ANERA in 2005

Outside view of Jericho’s new library built by ANERA in 2005

The new library has been a vibrant center of learning for Jericho’s population, young and old. May Hilal has been working there for 13 years. The 49 year old librarian recalls the dire conditions of the old library, established in 1975.

“The library’s old location was in a dilapidated building,” she says. It was basically a 200- square-meter two-room apartment. The space could not accomodate many readers and there were only two out-dated computers for library personnel. “Part of the ceiling suddenly collapsed one time,” she remembers. Fortunately, no one was inside at the time but it was a warning that something needed to be done.

New Library is Safe Center for Learning

When the library staff learned of ANERA’s proposal to build a brand new library, they breathed a sigh of relief.

May Hillal is director of Jericho's new library that ANERA built in 2005 to replace the city's old dilapidated building.

Library director May Hilal.

May, a mother of four young girls, was named library director for the new library. All her daughters are library patrons, and her two youngest girls spend their summer at the library, reading books and helping around. May and her husband have always encouraged a love of books and learning in their children and May extends that encouragement to all who enter the Jericho Library.

The library houses some 30,000 books, all categorized by a computerized system. The books are donated by local and international cultural organizations or purchased by the municipality.

“Our dream is to build an additional floor to house the children’s section, making it the library’s vital and dynamic part.” May explains. “Our current section takes up to only 20 children, which is not enough to acommodate all our young patrons.”

Library Provides More Than Books

The library organizes children activities for summer from competitions and book discussion groups to storytelling and creative writing. The staff regularly organizes educational field visits to historic places in Jericho and community services like the traffic police, firehouse and civil defense department.

A classroom in the new Jericho Library is used by children and adults from the community.

Looking through window at library classroom.

Older children and adults often attend the library’s poetry reading evenings, workshops, lectures, book readings, and courses like nutrition, health and English language lessons.

The library is also used as a training center for local community organizations. Visitors also use library’s new computer lab, equipped with eight computers and free Internet. There’s also a DVD player, LCD screen and a projector. The municipality is responsible for the library’s upkeep.

The air-conditioned facility is considered a perfect retreat for readers and researchers, especially in Jericho’s summer, when the temperature degree can reach as high as 45°C (113F).

May considers herself most fortunate to have discovered and pursued the world of library science: “There’s a great joy in living amidst books. All the information you ever need is right there at your fingertips.”

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