Funday Times

The Young Learner Centre

From our Kid Reporter Shammarah Ismath Minerat High School Kid Reporter K-03 (Interview on December 4, 2009)

To honour the services of the Young Learner Centre at British Council Library for the last 60 years, I take great pleasure in interviewing the present Assistant Manager, Ms. Aruni De Silva.

Q: Madam, how many members are there at the Young Learners Centre (YLC) ?

A: According to current statistics for the last month (November 2009), we have a number of 2900 but with the membership promotions at the British School with their Book Week we got about 80
memberships, so with those numbers coming in, there are almost 3,000 members.

Q: What is the total number of books available at YLC?

A: Availability of books also varies from time to time. At the moment with last month's statistics we have nearly 12,100 books. Why it varies is because of the way the books are handled by the Young Learners and due to wastage of some, we have to withdraw books from time to time. Anyway the average number of books depends on the number of members.

Q: Are you specific in selecting authors and stories for children?

A: Yes, I am. Because I have to cater to the younger crowd, I have to please them. So we always refer catalogues available and all the recommended books for children of every age group. We also organize a Suggestions Box during the holidays to get the Young Learners to suggest their favourite book titles, the authors they prefer and according to those I place my orders.

Q: Apart from fiction, what are the other reading materials available at YLC?

A: Apart from the fiction area I consider the subject area as well. There are books on English Literature, History, Geography, Science etc. The number of books is less, because the Young Learners are provided with the internet services to collect necessary information on subject matters.

Q: Could you name some magazines that are available here?

A: We have the Story Adventures Box and to bring out the creative side of children, we have magazines on Handwork and Origami.

Q: How do the computers serve the members?

A: Computers at YLC are allowed to be used for educational purposes and also to introduce the members to the British Council 'Learn English' website, but I have noticed that the children are more to the games. Face Book, e-mailing and chatting are not allowed.

Q: Is there anyone to assist the members to surf the net?

A: No, it is really self access, but if it is necessary, yes we do.

Q: What are the workshops held at the YLC and how do the members benefit in improving their
language skills?

A: Our YLC is open for children from 5 – 15 years and to start from the younger group, it's the Story Time workshop for children between 5 – 8 years. It is held once a month, in a very interactive way to improve their reading habits as well as their listening and speaking skills. These workshops are very popular among our members. They are informed through our website and posters at the library. Limited passes are given on first come first served basis.

Talking of older children, we have the Commonwealth Essay Competition running; the Reading Challenges that are organized especially during holidays to keep the children occupied and to motivate them to read. To cater to the big demand, this is held in two sessions in August and December each year on different themes. Once the Challenge is completed each participant is awarded a Gold Medal.

Workshops on Review Writing are held with the help of the teachers of the Teaching Centre at the British Council.

Q: Could you name the competitions held at the library since 2008?

A: In 2008, we held a competition for the World Book Fair and we had another Art Competition called the Festival of Colours, which was held at the British Council premises. Both the members and non-members joined in this event. There was a good response from the outstation schools.

Then we ran the Commonwealth Essay Competition throughout August 2008 till January 15, 2009. There were two winners from our submissions in the categories C and D and we also got Highly Commended and Commended out of 16 entries. This was of course, a great achievement for the YLC.

Q: Do you prepare or help members of the YLC to participate in the Commonwealth Essay Competition?

A: Yes we do. Last year, we organized the annual ceremony with the partnership of Commonwealth Association in Sri Lanka. We were able to get down their Project Manager to conduct a workshop on essay writing. This paved the way to the successful performance at the competition.

Q: What are the future activities you have in store for the members and non-members for the year 2010?

A: There will be variations in existing workshops. We have planned to extend our services to less privileged children and the outstation schools like Anuradhapura, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Galle etc.

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