Queen's University

Students living at library for a good cause

 
2010-01-22

Two Queen’s students are preparing to spend 168 consecutive hours at Stauffer library – and they won’t be studying for exams.

Katie McIntosh and Nitasha Sarin will live in a tent in the library atrium for one week beginning January 23 as part of this year’s Live-in For Literacy campaign. Seven other universities across the country are running similar events, with a goal of raising $20,000 to build a library in India and purchase 10,000 local-language books.

“Our goal is to promote literacy in developing countries,” says Kaleigh Smith, the public relations coordinator for DREAM (Discover the Reality of Education All Minds), the Queen’s organization that started Live-in For Literacy in 2005. “We just hope to get the word out.”

Ms. McIntosh and Ms. Sarin will be permitted to attend class, but any other time away (be it for a washroom break, a shower or a quick trip home) will have to be banked. Every hour spent in Stauffer will earn five minutes of banked time.

“One thing I heard from previous years is that you don’t get a lot of sleep,” says Ms. McIntosh, a fourth-year commerce student. That’s because the library doesn’t close until 1:45 am, and the cleaning crew is hard at work overnight.

Ms. Sarin, a second-year history student, sees the week as an opportunity to not only raise awareness, but to get some work done. “I’m hoping it will help me sit down and actually do my class readings because I can’t leave,” she says.

The students have the full support of the university and Stauffer. “The Library has been delighted to support the Live-in for Literacy campaign since 2005 because it’s about reading, and because it is a wonderful example of the leadership of Queen’s students in making a real difference to the global community,” says Associate University Librarian Martha Whitehead. “The DREAM team are so enthusiastic and capable, we always enjoy hosting them.”

Members of DREAM have set up a schedule to visit with and deliver meals to the campers, and will be doing presentations about the project in various classes throughout the week. Donations can be made in the library atrium.

“We’ll constantly be reminded of why we’re doing this,” Ms. Sarin says of the steady stream of visitors and spectators they’re anticipating.

In four years, Live-in For Literacy has raised $70,000, building nine school libraries in Nepal, four in India, and a computer lab in Cambodia.

“We’re promoting education,” says Ms. Smith. “And education is the doorway to everything.”

For more information or to view blogs and live webcam feeds visit http://www.liveinforliteracy.com

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