What’s that tent doing in the library?

Corinne Barr and Shane Hebel in Steacie Library

It’s not wilderness camping, but it’s rougher than a soft bed in residence.

Still, Corinne Barr, a second-year linguistics student, is willing to eat, sleep and live in a corner of Steacie Library for a week for a good cause.

That cause is Live-in For Literacy, an international organization to raise awareness and funds to Corinne Barr and Shane Hebel in Steacie Librarycombat illiteracy. The money raised goes towards building schools and school libraries for children in developing countries, as designated by the parent organization Room to Read.

Corinne Barr and Shane Hebel in Steacie Library

Barr moved in at noon on Friday, put up the tent and set up the table where she will sit, available to answer questions, hand out pamphlets and take donations. She is one of six volunteers – three pairs – who will camp in three York libraries during Live-in For Literacy Week Jan. 20 to 26.

This is the first time she has volunteered for the York University live-in. “I’m excited,” she says. “I think it’s a good way to get the word out. People are drawn to the tent and curious about it. They want to know why it’s in the library.”

Barr was inspired to volunteer for this annual event by her friend Shane Hebel, a third-year business student who co-founded the campaign at York three years ago. Hebel is camping in Scott Library, single site of the campaign for the past two years. This year, he has arranged to put up tents in three York libraries – Scott, Steacie and Bronfman – to bump up donations to $5,000 this year from $3,500 last year. (See YFile March 2, 2011) In Canada, students at about 12 universities are participating in the Live-in For Literacy week Jan. 20-26. York is the first to pitch tents in more than one library, says Hebel.

York is also the first to mount a Sign to End Illiteracy campaign, he says. A day before tents were set up, Hebel dispatched about 20 students to the Student Centre and Central Square to collect signatures on T-shirts and raise awareness of the Live-In For Literacy Week. Campers are wearing those T-shirts this week.

“As students who are fortunate enough to receive education at postsecondary institutions, to have books, libraries and other literary resources readily available to us, we believe that it is important for students in impoverished nations to have access to these same resources as we do,” says Hebel.

During the week, the campers – Shane Hebel and Alicia Gutierrez at Scott Library; Corinne Barr and Fraser Davies at Steacie Library; and Joni Iliazi and Melinda DeLarge at Bronfman Library in the Seymour Schulich Building – will also be speaking to classes on campus about the cause, its impact and what people can do to help.