There are very few cultural institutions in the rural villages. Oftentimes there is but a single library and a single House of Culture (community centre for arts and culture). Libraries are entirely free to visit. It is crucial in the low income regions, where people can’t afford to spend money on culture and education.
Reading is not the main cause for visiting; each library is a centre for education, cultural events and entertainment. The spaces are used for distributing news, celebrating anniversaries and social gatherings. Village libraries exist to preserve national traditions and historical knowledge.
Many of the libraries are managed by just one employee each, most of them being women. They are the ones in charge of decorating the spaces which is why each library possesses a unique interior. Each librarian has a special hobby of their own such as music, crochet, doll making, or papier-machè. Creative and artistic in their own way, they enjoy sharing their knowledge and their skills with children for free. Most librarians work part-time. Due to a serious deficit of government’s financing, full-time positions in libraries almost do not exist.
Village libraries' book funds rarely receive contributions; some funds have but a few hundreds of books available. Mobile data and smartphones have driven the public interest towards digital resources which village libraries often don’t have access to. The librarians compensate for the decline of interest in printed editions and the infrequent donations to the funds with organising various events within the library spaces, such as celebrations of renowned writers and poets' anniversaries, lectures on local history, open gatherings for children and adults, numerous workshops and quizzes.
Village libraries keep disappearing. In five years’ time, many will be closed as the population of the rural areas continues to decrease.
In the middle of making this series it became clear to me that the focus of the project was not only and not as much the libraries themselves as it is the women that single handedly carry the cultural education of rural areas’ residents on their backs.