By Victoria Jones, Head Librarian
As I had mentioned in a previous post, part of the preparation for my trip was gathering supplies for the library. There was a fair amount of guess work involved in this as I was unsure of the number and types of books that would be going into the library and what supplies would be the most helpful. I was given the rough estimate of 14,000 books that would need to be processed, which included textbooks that would need to be counted and reboxed for storage. I will admit that I was a little skeptical of this number and quite frankly was hopeful that this was a substantial over-estimate. I was wrong.
The first day I visited Heritage, Kwesi showed me a room packed with books for the library. Full of bravado, I commented that it didn’t seem too overwhelming. Then he showed me the second and third rooms of books and I began to know fear. Little did I know that after a week of working, I would discover that there was a fourth room of books known as – I kid you not- “the big room”. At this point, I believe that I have a fairly clear sense of the scope project, barring the discovery of another cache of books.
As I begin my third week of work on the library, things are beginning to come together. We have processed the majority of the textbooks and they are packed up and ready to return to storage. I have begun the library database and have been able to download records successfully from the internet. We are now beginning to sort the books by age range and reading level and I should be able to begin cataloging next week.
Along the way there have been some not entirely unexpected difficulties and some unforeseen (at least by me) challenges. The first obstacle is space both for processing the books and for the new library. This is something that librarians deal with the world over. While a wonderful room has been selected for the new library, it is not yet ready for the books. The room is in the process of being secured and shelving will need to be installed. I also suspected before arriving that mold might be an issue given the climate and storage options. In this case, I have been somewhat pleasantly surprised in that the mold has not been as pervasive as I thought. Yet I have also seen types of mold and damage to books the likes of which I have not seen before. What I was not expecting is the rodent problem. Mice are not an uncommon problem in libraries with all the nesting material available but I think the problem might be augmented by the open air nature of the campus.
All these issues aside, the project is beginning to make some headway. This is largely due to the communal efforts of the school and volunteer community. Numerous students and staff began the library project long before I arrived, unpacking all the books and doing a preliminary sort. Students are always eager to help and are clearly excited about the new library. The summer volunteers have also pitched in when not helping with reading groups to capture ISBN numbers and pack textbooks. Ebenezer Acquah, who will be in charge of the library, has been unfailingly kind and helpful as I have tried to get a firm grasp on how the Heritage library should be designed to be the most effective. Finally there are Emmanuel Acquah, payin (which means older twin), Emmanuel Eshun and Emmanuel Acquah, kakra (which means younger twin), who are pictured above and have been tasked with being my assistants. They appear every day ready to help, are willing to do whatever is asked and wait patiently while I try to figure out what I am doing. I could not ask for better assistants. All in all, the library is beginning to take shape.