March 5, 2021

Small readers take flight in an airplane turned into a library in Bolivia

Imagination and creativity stimulated by children's literature take flight in an old airplane turned into a library, to welcome dozens of small avid readers in Bolivia every day.

The populous neighborhood of Wayrak'asa, in the south of the central city of Cochabamba, hosts the Biblioavión, an imposing Convair T-29B aircraft whose delivery date goes back to 1953 according to its serial identification plate.

On the outside it looks like any airplane, although the books and the slogan "Reading is my madness" painted on the outside throw clues of what is inside.

Tables, chairs and shelves full of stories, educational books and children's novels create an environment that invites children and teenagers to read in this peculiar library, which is part of the Simón I. Patiño Center network.

"The children feel that they are flying on the plane, obviously through reading," the head of the Simón I. Patiño Library Network, Juan Carlos Ayala, told Efe.

With the antecedent of having previously converted train cars into libraries, the center sought to install "another alternative space" similar to promote reading.

Thus it was decided to opt for a plane, "because it is something striking", and the chosen one was one in disuse that was in La Paz and belonged to the Bolivian Air Force, according to Ayala.

The center managed the purchase of the aircraft and moved it by truck parts to Cochabamba, to reassemble it in Wayrak'asa.

The arrival of the Biblioavión in the neighborhood was a huge improvement of the place, because where there was previously abandoned land today is a children's playground adorned by the aircraft.

Seventeen years have passed since that journey to install this children's library, "almost a lifetime", especially for the first passengers who had the Biblioavión, many of them professionals today, recalled the head of the network.

With a capacity to accommodate about thirty children, the Biblioavión opens in the afternoons from Tuesday to Saturday and works with children from 5 years of age on motivation to read, comprehension strategies and school support, explained the responsible from this library, Julieta Pardo.

The challenge of libraries to attract readers has been greater lately due to the advancement of technologies and the use of mobile phones, said Pardo.

To meet this challenge, the space decided to aim at the development of children's creativity through activities complementary to reading, such as dramatizations, puppets, origami-origami-or filigree.

"We resort to all kinds of creative techniques for children to see that it is not only about reading, understanding and doing a whole process, but also about having fun and having a good time," said Pardo, who has been working at the Library for twelve years. .

They also offer school support through their reading clubs, which meet once a week and are made up of about twenty children each, according to the head of the library.

Sundays are reserved for families, as the library offers activities without age restrictions, also designed for preschool children.

"The space provides books for parents to read, share a reading and at the same time make a series of educational games with their children," said Pardo.

The library has about sixty fixed users who attend its workshops and reading clubs weekly, while on Sundays it receives between thirty to forty people.

"The space is not tourist, they do not enter, they look and they leave, but they have to stay and take advantage of the space, the material and the activities that are offered to them", clarified the person in charge.

Therefore, on Sundays, which is when they have a greater demand, families enter in groups and leave "once they have finished and are satisfied with the processes," he added.

The literary offer is varied and includes about 1,500 texts by authors of various nationalities, such as the Argentines Gustavo Roldán and Ricardo Mariño or the Englishman Anthony Browne.

The most demanded are the "album books", a format in which the text and the image become inseparable.

The Biblioavión was recently recognized as the "National Library of the Year" by the National College of Professionals in Information Sciences of Bolivia.

Gina Baldivieso

. (tagsToTranslate) Small (t) readers (t) converted (t) library (t) Bolivia

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