Tag Archives: Librarians Without Borders

Library Service in Guatemala

by Georgi Bordner, Head of Technical Services

First grader checking out her first library book First grader checking out her first library book

During the last week of April, I had the privilege of joining a group of 13 “Librarians without Borders” from across the United States and Canada on a service trip to Guatemala. Our mission was to help the Colegio Miguel Angel Asturias, a private K-12 school in Quetzaltenango, with a variety of projects intended to improve the library and promote literacy. I was part of the group that cataloged and processed almost 200 new books that had been donated to the library, and other members of our team conducted a workshop for the teachers and planned activities for the children, such as stories, skits, and crafts. As one of only five Spanish speakers in the group, I also had many opportunities to serve as an interpreter for the other members of the team.

Having spent a number of years in ministry in Latin America and with Latin Americans, being in Guatemala almost felt like being “home.” However, while the culture was very familiar, working in the school environment was a new experience for me. I enjoyed helping some of the younger children with their craft projects, as we glued “capes” to popsicle sticks to create superhero bookmarks. It was also fun to see how excited the first and second graders were as they checked out their first library books. One little boy read to me from the Garfield book he had selected as he stood in line at the librarian’s desk. I know he was looking forward to reading the rest of it at home!

In addition to working with the children in the library, we had opportunities to talk with the school’s founder and director about his philosophy of education. The curriculum at Asturias is built around monthly themes that teach social values and practical skills in addition to the traditional reading, writing, and math. The theme for April was ecology and the environment, and we joined a group of the older students on a field trip to a local glass blowing co-op, where we learned how recycled glass is used to create a variety of useful and decorative items. We also visited the home of a high school student who lives in a local farming community. He makes the long trip into the city every day for school because the school in his town only goes up to 8th grade, and he wanted to take advantage of the higher education Asturias offers. His father proudly demonstrated the electric pump that he uses to water his crops, built by his older son who learned about electrical work when he attended the school.

We didn’t spend all of our time working! We enjoyed additional activities such as a tour of Quetzaltenango, a visit to a local hot spring, and stops at the city of Antigua and several towns along the shores of Lake Atitlan. I am very thankful to have had this opportunity to explore Guatemala, as well as contribute toward the improvement of the school library there.

A selection of photos from our trip can be viewed on the Library’s Facebook group and Google+ page.

Georgi Bordner Heads to Guatemala with Librarians Without Borders

Librarians Without Borders: Putting Information in the Hands of the World Librarians Without Borders: Putting Information in the Hands of the World

Regent University Librarian Georgi Bordner will be travelling with Librarians Without Borders (LWB) members from across North America to the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy in Quetzeltenango (Xela), Guatemala from April 22-May 2 to collaborate on the development and operation of a school library.

LWB has partnered with the Asturias Academy since 2009 to support the Academy’s vision to build a sustainable community library in the school. Each spring, a small group travels to the Academy to do work in the school’s library, to discuss emerging needs with the school, and to re-connect with the students and school staff. In their sixth year travelling to Guatemala, LWB plans to work with the Academy to help cultivate a reading culture and increase book use and literacy within the school and community.

“Many Guatemalans are restricted from getting a quality education, in part due to a severe lack of access to books and literacy materials. In a country where books are taxed beyond the reach of the 75% of the population who live in poverty, it is almost impossible to get children excited about reading because many cannot get actual books in their hands”, said Mark Gelsomino, Co-Executive Director of LWB. “Our goal is to work with our partners to give the local community access to a sustainable public library”.

This year’s work at the Academy will include collection management activities (cataloging, processing, and organizing materials) and information literacyoutreach programming for students and teachers.

Georgi shares that she is “excited about this opportunity to use my cataloging skills and my knowledge of Spanish to help improve the library at the Academy and change the lives of the students there.”

Please pray for a safe journey for Georgi and all of the LWB librarians and that the Lord will bless their time in Guatemala.