Dina Popovic’s Molat Summer Kids Library Encourages Many to Donate Books

Lauren Simmonds

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As Morski writes, Dina Popovic from Zagreb fell in love with Molat at first sight. It happened, she says, when she and her husband ended up on the island quite by accident last summer. Like any island or Dalmatian location by the sea, Zapuntel on Molat is dormant during the winter and comes alive only with the arrival of the very first tourists. Dina Popovic decided to help in a very interesting way; she wants to establish a children’s summer library on the island and is as such inviting everyone to donate spare books.

It seems that her project was immediately recognised and funds are coming from the City of Zadar, and it is being implemented in partnership with the Libraries of the City of Zagreb.

”We were on Molat for the first time, more precisely in Zapuntel last summer. And otherwise we love peaceful, quiet and wonderful places, where nature and calm is paramount. We have a dog, and animals are also very important to us. We fell in love with the island, with the peace, there in those 10 days I talked a little with the islanders, the locals, drank beer at the only Zapuntel store, and the school was mentioned. I inquired a little, learned that the school had been rebuilt, and there were no children there. It was standing there empty,” Dina Popovic explained.

”I came back to Zagreb and went straight into action. By the way, I’m employed, but I have been volunteering as well for many years, at children’s hospitals, teaching asylum seekers Croatian, giving lessons in Croatian and offering learning assistance (I am an expert in Russian language by profession and a comparator of literature, so you could say that I’m fully embedded in the profession). I called people Zadar, came in contact with various people who were completely unknown, they promised to send me a contract for the school, which hasn’t come to this day, but they said that I’m free to try to do something if I manage to get local support,” Dina Popovic recounts how it all started.

I received the support of the locals, more precisely from Zarko Martedic from Zapuntel. I returned to the island that autumn and they were pleasantly surprised, I think, because time had just stopped there. Everyone is always talking about the islands and what should be done, and yet there is no real realisation of much at all, it all depends on the enthusiasm and the will to cope with all of the paperwork of the locals, and I think the problem is that there’s no young force on Molat (young people have left, having gone to to Zadar, it’s hard to live on the island), there’s no engine.

And so I went ahead with it. We’ve had an association since the spring of 2020, everything has somehow stopped because of the pandemic, but it seems that something is pushing me forward now. I can’t explain what it is but it feels right, I have a million ideas. I applied to the City of Zadar for a competition for programmes in culture, drama, book workshops and a visit of the scouts to the island. The Scouts were my first, most important idea, because I think they can make a difference. With various eco actions, the island itself would teach them a lot,” said Dina Popovic.

”The thing is, is that the island is beautiful, the sea is beautiful, but there is nothing there, and there are schildren during the summer months. Local children and maybe tourists join our activities. Drama workshops with a play at the end and a cinema under the stars are also the main idea of ​​collecting books and establishing a library in the old school in Zapuntel. I’d also put some of the books in the harbour, next to the pier and the places where children spend their time.

I’m currently awaiting the signing of contracts for these cultural programmes, and it would be essential to arrange at least one school room to accommodate the workshop performers. We didn’t get a lot of funds that we could do much else with.

The collection of books for the establishment of the library in Zapuntel was organised in cooperation with the project Green Library for Green Zagreb Library of the City of Zagreb and the project Zapuntel – independent summer school of the Zaruljica Association. The programme is being co-financed by the City of Zadar, and is implemented in partnership with the Libraries of the City of Zagreb,” concluded Dina Popovic, offering a list of the 16 Zagreb libraries accepting donations here.

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