Thanks to word-of-mouth advertising by a group of avid readers, the Kumbo Public Library has become a cultural focus of the surrounding community, especially among school-age children.

Given its location, it was only a matter of time before secondary school students started taking advantage of the library. Each day, hundreds of students walk past the Himalayan Institute Community Center on their way to and from class at the government bilingual high school just a few hundred yards down the road. The library has proved to be an ideal space to study for year-end examinations.

Twice a week, the Himalayan Institute invites primary school-age children into the library for lessons in reading, arithmetic, and hygiene. During the summer months, parents spend more time in the fields—tilling, planting, and harvesting food crops on small family plots. Young children are often left unsupervised in neighborhoods with high unemployment and a teenage population on holiday from secondary school. The biweekly Children’s Corner provides a safe, clean environment where children can continue to play and learn.

Glance through the pages of the library’s guestbook and its impact on the community quickly becomes apparent. “The first of its kind in all the Northwest Region,” says one entry. “This is a gift to the people of Kumbo. I will be here every day,” says another. A thank you note from a local stenographer ends with the words, “I want you to know that this is more than a blessing.”

High school seniors take advantage of the library’s resources to prepare for final exams.

The child-size stools and table were designed and crafted next door in the HI Center for Carpentry and Construction.