Creative Learners

Creative Learners
Learning Brief


Overcoming implementation challenges in the Youth Librarian training project

Category: Creative Learners | Reading Promotion | 6 April, 2014 - 14:00


Project Background

In collaboration with Equal Education, help2read provides training and support to Youth Librarians who are placed in primary and high schools that previously had no librarian. The task of help2read is to provide training and on-going support for the implementation of the tools and skills that the Youth Librarians receive during their training. Help2read has provided two types of training thus far:

  • The first covers the help2read volunteer methodology and supports librarians focusing on assisting learners who struggle with reading and literacy;
  • The second focuses on increasing the library functionality and purpose within a school.

Furthermore, help2read provides on-going support to the Youth Librarians in the form of visits and phone calls.

Successful Implementation
Since the programme’s inception in September of 2012, we have seen examples of successful implementation through the following outputs:

  • 14 Youth Librarians have been trained and placed in 7 different schools.
  • These Youth Librarians have organised over 10 different events at their schools to stimulate the learners’ interest in reading and books. Examples of such events include career day, heritage day, “readathons”, book clubs, and homework clubs.
  • Data received from the Youth Librarians at the 7 schools indicate an average of 500 learners visiting their libraries each month. The average child visits the library 3 times per week.
  • More than 100 books are checked out of the libraries everyday, which indicate that the learners are taking advantage of this new resource at their schools.

So far, the most encouraging success of the Youth Librarian Training Project is the Librarians’ self-reported enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. We also noticed that they were quick to absorb the information given to them, and that they often came up with great ideas to improve the libraries in which they would be working.

Implementation Challenges and Solutions

1) One challenge relates to the blurred lines of responsibility with one of our partner organisations. This has negatively impacted some of the training of future Youth Librarians and caused numerous financial hardships for both organisations. The consequence of our un-defined partnership unfortunately meant that some Youth Librarians dropped out of the programme after being trained. This wastes resources and time and undermines the programme’s overall objectives.

Solution: We are in continued discussion with our partner to help solve this problem.  Another solution is to form further, constructive partnerships with other NGOs and so to expand our resource and network base. In the future, we will always make sure to have a Memorandum of Understanding that is clear and thorough between the partnership organisation and ourselves.

2) The second challenge relates to our internal organisational operations regarding the handover of information between employees at help2read. One of our chief Project Coordinators left the organisation and due to a lack of institutional archiving the remaining staff experienced a sense of deficiency in qualitative information. This poor internal institutionalization of knowledge meant that vital information was lost, or was miscommunicated at times during this transition phase.

Solution: We have now learned the importance of having thorough qualitative and quantitative documentation and record keeping. Although it is also important to record figures and facts, those do not always paint the full picture of an experience. An historical archive and narrative are also necessary. Situations in which staff members leave highlight the need for proper and enforced qualitative reporting. This is something we are busy instituting in our organisation.


We understand that challenges will always be a part of the work that we do. At help2read we place an emphasis on learning from these challenges and from the past to ensure future successes. We have come up with solutions and ideas for the future for both of the challenges that have been experienced in this project. Overall, we are pleased with the way the Youth Librarian Training Project has evolved and progressed. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for the children, the schools, and the Youth Librarians.


6 Alma Road,  Cape Town,    

 (021) 685 8085

In Short

Help2read highlights some of the implementation successes and challenges it has faced in its Youth Librarian Training Project. This includes the task of working with partner organisations, and of building a lasting institutional archive through good record keeping. Other organisations may learn from help2read’s suggested solutions for addressed these issues.

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