The student section of Librarians without Borders at McGill university has been working on a project involving a school library in Guatemala. Since I’m friends with a couple of them, I decided to get involved too and eleven of us will be heading down to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala for ten days on April 21st. We’ll be blogging about our trip and our efforts to help the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy, a k-12 not-for-profit private school, start a new library.
So what will we be up to? Well, here’s short run down of our itinerary:
We start off with a little cultural acclimatisation (i.e. some fun & touristy stuff) upon arrival in Guatemala we’ll be heading to San Marcos La Laguna, near Lake Atitlan for some kayaking, tours and volcano excursions.
On Saturday, April 24th we head out to Comunidad Nueva Alianza, an organic coffee and macadamia plantation for a couple days there before we reach our final destination of Quetzaltenango on Sunday evening.
Monday through Friday we will be staying in Quetzaltenango and working with the teachers and students at the Academy. Every day we’ll have the opportunity to learn about the school, organize recess games, participate in library sessions, and visit local museums, families or artisans. I even see a “futból” match on the itinerary: LWB volunteers vs the school! (Note to self: pack running shoes.)
Our final weekend will be some more fun at an eco-park in the Totonicapan region. And then, May 2nd it’s all over. Well for most of us, a few of the others are sending a few extra days in Guatemala on additional tours (alas, some of us have jobs we need to get back to!)
As for the library, I think we are all bursting with ideas. Public and school library systems are not as strong as they are here in Canada. The concept of a library may even be foreign to some! LWB will be helping not only to fundraise for books, but also with the planning and design of the library.
The McGill LWB group held a bake sale and also acquired other funds (such as a kind donation from the School of Information Studies) for the purchase of books. Tap Peques, a Canadian distributor for Spanish Children’s books, has offered LWB a discount so we will be purchasing some titles from them to bring to Guatemala. We’ll also work with the school to select other materials for their library from a Guatemalan distributor. Selecting can be tricky since not only does the school teach from kindergarten through to grade 12, but besides Spanish, they also offer classes in K’iche (a Mayan language) and English.
The teachers and staff at the school do not have any library training, so some of us will have to give them a quick run-down of best practices in libraries and the key elements to running a school library successfully. We’ll be helping them decide on how to catalogue the books they have so far (and that we’re bringing) and teach them the basics of circulating books to students (and possibly the community).
I’m hoping to be able to hit a bookstore or two while there. The publishing industry in Guatemala isn’t very strong, but Spanish professors here at Concordia do have a small wish-list (I may have told them I was going to Guatemala). I’ll keep my eye open, though I’m not holding my breath that I’ll find much useful to bring back here.
Only 9 more days to go. Um, anyone have a suitcase I can borrow?