Carolyn Doi, Music Liaison Librarian
Guatemala Project Manager, Librarians Without Borders
Librarians Without Borders (LWB) is a non profit organization that aims to improve access to information resources in communities worldwide. For several years I have worked on behalf of LWB on development, research and learning projects related to literacy and libraries in Guatemala. Our partner organization in Guatemala is the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy, a non-profit Pre K-12 school in the city of Quetzaltenango that serves approximately 300 students from varying backgrounds: indigenous, non-indigenous, poor, working class and middle class. The Academy’s desire to promote reading and literacy at the school led to a partnership with LWB that began in 2009 and continues to this day. In that time, a fully operational community library has been built on the school grounds, and it is used on a daily basis by students and staff at the school as part of their curriculum requirements and to support leisure reading activities. Currently, LWB is supporting a project to train a local Guatemalan teacher to run the library and reading programs at the Academy.
In my capacity as Guatemala Project Manager I have worked with graduate students at several Canadian Library and Information Science University Programs to develop conceptual and practical solutions to library development and access to information resources at the Asturias Academy. The library students are able to draw on theoretical research and critical thinking skills developed in the classroom and apply them to this real-life situation. Presently, two teams of students are working on projects: one to develop curriculum support activities, materials and lesson plans and another exploring best practices and solutions for implementation of a library lending program at the school. Both projects will undergo a consultative step with Asturias staff and students before being implemented on the ground in Guatemala during our upcoming service learning trip in May 2012. During this trip, 18 students and professionals will meet in Guatemala to complete service work at the school, while also learning about educational practices and social justice in Guatemala. My involvement with the Asturias Academy has led to personal research interests into the popular education and the educational concepts of Paulo Friere related to libraries and literacy in the developing world. To find out more about LWB’s activities in Guatemala, or to learn how to get involved, visit our website: www.librarianswithoutborders.org