How community libraries are helping university students in the West Bank and Gaza
“This community library is different from other libraries, where you just go to read and borrow books,” says Zaid, a volunteer at Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Community Library in Hebron. “It is a knowledge centre that mobilizes the community, raises awareness on student’s rights and needs and teaches you how to speak up and develop a dialogue.”
UNESCO Ramallah Office started the implementation of this programme entitled “Support program for Palestinian University students Under Conditions of Severe Poverty” in 2014 by the establishment of 12 Community Libraries in the West Bank and Gaza. Funded by the Saudi Committee for the Relief of the Palestinian People, these libraries provide support to more than 24,000 vulnerable higher education students through the provision of trainings, scientific research support, textbooks and photocopying services.
“After being a volunteer in this library for more than a year, I feel more confident than before,” says Adil, a volunteer at Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Community Library in Tulkarem. “As a university graduate, I am learning from this experience, which will give me more opportunity to find employment in the community”.
The 12 librarians spread all over the West Bank and Gaza are trained to give the best support to students. “The students like how we treat them here: they feel at home and anything they need, we can give them and help to provide them with support,” says Imtinaan, a librarian at the Nablus Community Library. “We are proud when we see our students flourish and excel in what they do.”
Since the establishment of the programme, the community libraries have become a useful academic and social network. They have taken a central role in the lives of people and have become a second home and a support system for many vulnerable students in Palestine.