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October 20, 2011

For the last few weeks, I’ve quietly been working in my own library.

I think I’ve always harbored a secret desire to be a librarian albeit without the ambition to actually seek the necessary credentials. Back in September of 2010, I wrote a post about “legacy,” wondering just what mine would be here in Mongolia, and for the first time in my 504 days in country I have at least a glimpse of what that might be. 311 books covering an array of topics and reading levels, along with 16 English-Mongolian, Mongolian-English dictionaries now have a home in a small (somehow perpetually cold) room on the second floor of Tsogttsetsii’s seconday school. The room doubles as an office for the social worker, but every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the library is “open” for business–and, the librarian is none other than yours truly.

Mongolia has this terrible habit of locking books in cabinets. If I was going to go to the trouble of gathering these resources, I wanted to be sure that they would actually be used, and as with many things in life, if you want to get it done you have to do it yourself. So, I’ve set aside six hours every week to making sure these resources are truly available. The look of unbridled amazement on my first customers was by far an ample reward. “You mean, I can take any of them?” asked one girl, in Mongolian. “Of course,” I said, “anything you like.” For the first few weeks, students usually picked the largest and glossiest books they could find, with no regard to content. I’ve seen Moby Dick checked out on many an occasion, at which point I just smile and tell them that it is in fact my favorite book. Slowly though, students are developing a discerning eye for the books they pick, not  just choosing a book by its cover.

There are more books on the way as well. Friends and family at home have taken it upon themselves to help me make this little library project a success. If you feel like you’ve got some simple children’s books laying around at home and can spare a little extra cash for postage, let me know through the blog here and I’ll send you an address where you can ship your extra books.

(Note: I owe a great deal of thanks to Darien Book Aid Plan and The Orchlon School of Mongolia for making this project possible)

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Rita permalink
    October 20, 2011 3:12 pm

    this is very cool Rob!! I wish I had some of my favorite kids’ books lying around. i don’t suppose they’re interested in some books about feminist theory…?

    • October 21, 2011 5:01 am

      hahaha, while I’d love to teach them about some feminist theory, I think “patriarchy” and “objectification” might be slightly above their level! we’re still working on “See Spot Run.” Thanks for reading, Rita!

  2. Ann Oliphant permalink
    October 26, 2011 2:27 pm

    I have books! Most of mine are picture books, 1st to 4th grade reading levels. Would that help?

  3. Amy Pikovsky permalink
    November 29, 2011 3:49 pm

    Hi Rob! I stumbled onto your blog during a super boring class and am enjoying reading about your adventures. Are you still lookiing for books for your library? If so, I would be thrilled to make a donation!

    • November 30, 2011 4:31 am

      Absolutely! I’ll send you an email with my Mongolian address label attached. I must warn you, the postage is PRICEY! So if you feel like you can’t afford it, no worries. The best option by far is to squeeze them into a small USPS flat rate box. Let me know if you’re still up for it.

      And thanks for reading! I hope all is well back in the States.

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