GANESA Library and Study Center
Wiwik and his younger brother come to the library every afternoon to read and borrow books. The local teenagers are becoming avid readers. Looking at books after English class.... We just can not get them to go home!
Debra and I love books and love to read. We both grew up using the public libraries in our towns and schools, and through books our lives were changed for the better. We never imagined that access to a public library was not common throughout the world, or how very fortunate we are to have our public library system in America.
The first time we visited Solo/Surakarta, in Central Java to begin making batiks, we were saddened to find out that a city of 500,000 people had no public library. Reading was not a common activity because books are expensive and there was no library where poor people have access to books for free.
We immediately knew that we needed to do something significant and meaningful to give back to the people of Solo. They were sharing their sacred tradition of batik with us, empowering us in our tradition of quilt making.
On our next visit to Java we carried 200+ books in our luggage to give away to the families and children of our workers. They loved the books! But, it was clear that giving books away to individual people/families was not the most efficient way of sharing books. We needed to build a free public library, and we needed to ask the quilt making community in the USA to help.
We carried hundreds of books to give away on each of our visits over the next two years, as we explored and researched how a library would work in a culture that had no tradition of book borrowing.
We noticed something interesting when a bookstore was opened during the second year of our visits to Solo. The store was packed full of people on Sunday afternoons, most of which would stand and read, but few books were purchased. We then knew there was a hunger for books and reading, and that a library could indeed work.
We have finally succeeded in making our vision of a "free public library" a reality in Solo, one of two cities most famous for making batiks in all of Indonesia. We started a nonprofit 501(c)(3) to support the library (perpustakaan) called GANESA Study Center, a local symbol which represents learning, education and overcoming obstacles.
GANESA currently has over 3000 books in the collection with 30% in English and 70% in the local Indonesian language. Book borrowing is increasing steadily, with whole families coming to read and borrow books on a weekly basis. We have already loaned more than 30% of our collection in just a few months, this shows that we are making appropriate selections for inclusion in the library.
We encourage quilt makers to assist us in "Giving Back" to the people who have given us handmade batiks. Our artistic traditions are intertwined, but we have much more than they do financially and educationally.
Please help us in our mission of spreading the love of reading and education.
Debra Lunn & Michael Mrowka