By Carolyne Menard
In 2012, Librarians Without Borders (LWB) participants developed the Library Programming Recommendations for Asturias guide, which gave recommendations as to how the students’ information literacy skills could be improved. This year, the focus is on Asturias’ teachers and what they want out of the library. Interviews were conducted with ten teachers in order to find out how the school’s library could serve them better, how it could complement their class and how it could become an important tool in their teaching. We asked teachers how they used the library, what their opinion was on the materials available and how it could be improved.
The feedback we received was very positive. Teachers are pleased with the way the library’s collection grew since it was first constructed in 2009. From an initial collection of 30 books, the library now includes over 3,200 books, and a number of educational board games. All teachers feel that the use of the library is now part of their curriculum. Some mentioned that their students prefer going to the library during recess then playing in the school yard. One teacher even said that some students are reading so many books that they are currently running out of things to read. For a school that didn’t have a library five years ago, this is an amazing accomplishment.
That being said, there is always room for improvement. Most teachers would like to have more copies of the books they use in their classes, since students often work in groups. More logic and reading games would also work as a great complement to the teachers’ curriculum. For younger readers, teachers would appreciate books with cds so their students can link what they’re hearing and reading. Finally, as in any other library in the world, new books are always welcome.
Overall, interviewing Asturias’ teachers was very enlightening. Since previous trip participants focused mostly on the school’s students, hearing teachers’ opinions gave us great advices on what to add to the programming guide. Most importantly, interviewing them confirmed the library’s improvements over the last four years and the great work and involvement of LWB participants.
Librarians Without Borders is hosting our 8th Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Members: Please join us to hear about LWB work since last May!
Guatemalan Students at Library Day 2013
Date: Wed, May 29, 2013
Time: 7:00-8:30 pm EST
Place: FuzeMeeting Online
Like the past four years, our AGM will be held as a webinar to allow members near and far to participate. The instructions for registration have been sent via email to all of our members. If you did not get your AGM package and invite, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request a new email be sent. We look forward to convening with you.
By Christine Wu
On Friday morning the K-6 students at Asturias got to visit the zoo as part of their ecology month. The students were especially excited to present the zoo with gifts that they have been hard at work making: trash cans made of recycled materials. April has been “ecology month” at Asturias and the students have been learning about the importance of caring for the planet and moving towards a greener future.
Some members of our LWB team got to accompany the students to the zoo, where 150+ students enthusiastically picked up garbage at the zoo. It was exciting to see how engaged and active the students were in cleaning up the zoo–this project marks a milestone in creating and maintaining a cleaner, greener Guatemala. Congratulations on a job well done!
Christine Wu is an MLIS student at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Follow her on twitter @chrwu
By Erica Sum
Dinner is almost ready! Photo: Carmen Ho
When you’re working hard, you need to fuel up for the day and we’ve all been lucky to be treated to three squares a day care of Dõna Margerita, a fabulous cook whose two daughters are alumnae of Asturias and whose son is currently a student. Not only does she serve generous helpings of traditional Guatemalan cuisine, she is always very accommodating of special dietary needs some trip participants have.
Fried plantains, scrambled egg patty, corn tortilla and refried beans. Photo: Carmen Ho
Typical meals include smoky corn tortillas still hot off the comal, bright and spicy salsas, creamy refried beans and sauteed bitter greens. It’s grounding food: modest, hearty and satisfying.
It’s not often you get to eat three communal meals everyday with a team of people you enjoy working with. Every meal is a chance for us to regroup and reflect on our experiences. At the table, Dõna Margerita creates a space for us to relax together and share laughter, hopes, memories and most of all, gratitude.
So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.
- Franz Kafka
By Brandie Burrows
Sadly, today is Librarians Without Borders’ last day at the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy. Soon, our staff will be wrapping up our cataloguing efforts, running our last few training sessions and cleaning out our temporary office next to the school library. The past two weeks have been an absolute whirlwind of activity. Although our time in Guatemala has come to an end, the memories we’ve created will last, thanks in no small part to some heartfelt keepsakes.
We were all so touched by the handmade cards that were presented to us on Library Day. Each class made cards for us, and it was clear that much time had gone into making each one. We sat after the day had ended to read through each of them and were all very touched. The children are all so kind and respectful, and it has truly been a privilege working with them.
Hasta la proxima, Asturius!
By Leta Ward
Post futbol game
photo: Leta Ward
Home Field Advantage (uh yea, that’s it).
Last Wednesday there was a break in the school routine at the Asturias academy. Breaks are always welcomed by students, even when they come in the form of fire drills. Imagine the excitement when the cause for skipping afternoon classes was to play fútbol at the local indoor/outdoor soccer arena, a once-a-year occasion for upper grade kids. To play on artificial turf instead of their small concrete school play ground in organized teams on a regulation size indoor field is a rare treat. Even more rare is the opportunity for these young fútbolistas to use their fancy footwork against a bunch of librarians who did not grow up with the sport coursing through our veins. In the days leading up to Wednesday, there was a general sense among our group that we were about to be slain by these jóvenes (youngsters). The message became clear when we saw the children’s cleats lined up neatly in the sun on the school roof. We were willing to give it a go though, despite their intimidation tactics.
Our group filed out of the school around 3 pm, over 100 of us between staff, students, and volunteers. We made our way through the neighborhood streets to the soccer recreation park surrounded by high chain link fencing. We had assumed that it would be librarians against students, which of course wouldn’t have been possible considering the ratio. The Asturias teachers created eight teams and we were divided up among them. Phew. Over the next several hours all configurations of teams were arranged. There were bouts between the co-ed numbered teams, librarians against teachers, librarians against students, boys-on-boys, and girls-on-girls. The 10-minute rounds flew by and the excitement from the sidelines was palpable as kids screamed for their classmates on teams called “Madrid,” and “Melvin and His Friends,” and “Guate”. While benched, I was seated next to a future professional commentator who entertained his friends while they ate chips and watched the short games with rapt attention.
We were glad the Asturias students didn’t go easy on us as we took our turns with them as teammates or faced them as opponents. The boys were tough and so were the girls, but they never played dirty. The rules were more malleable than what I had recalled from my soccer past as a youngster, and positions (other than keeper) were anything but fixed. We all had a blast and no blood was let. No harsh words were exchanged.
The boys cheered on the all-girls match. No cleats were ever used, since it was turf. We discovered later why those soccer shoes were airing out on the roof; they were donations to the school in sizes the students couldn’t use. The shoes will be sold and the money raised will go to buy uniforms for communal use. This is how things go at Asturias, emphasizing the principles of sharing and fairness. School director Jorge Chojolan goes to great lengths to ensure that every kid will have a fair shot, and that couldn’t have been more true on the field on Wednesday afternoon.
by Ian Fraser
The 2013 Guatemala trip marked Librarians Without Borders’ first attempt at delivering our lending instruction session. We had two groups of students, grades five and six. We were scheduled for a half hour but ended up spending about 45 minutes with each group. The sessions went really well and the students were enthusiastic about the prospect of borrowing the books and taking them home.
I was feeling a little anxious beforehand, because my Spanish skills are pretty basic. Fortunately, fellow volunteer Sarah was able to facilitate well in Spanish.
The session we delivered had three parts. We began by asking the students some questions about how they used the library and what they thought about borrowing books. The questions raised the issue of caring for the books when they are checked out of the library and remembering to return them.
To review the borrowing process, I did a short theatrical demo while Sarah probed the students for each step.
We then moved to the other side of the library for the final part of the session. This was an activity that had the students complete a storyboard by filling in the text boxes. The students loved this and both groups really took ownership over the story. The highlight for me was when one student suggested the boy in the story was named Ian. The others agreed and in the end they named their story “Ian y el libro interesante”.
It’s so great to see these sessions come together after all the pre-trip planning. I’m excited to see how the other sessions go with the other age groups.
By Brandie Burrows
photo: Leta Ward
After a morning of cataloging and lending instruction sessions (and a wonderful lunch at Dona Margarita’s) we all headed to Salcaja. School Director Jorge Chojolan accompanied us as we headed out on a public “chicken bus”. The primary purpose of our trip was to meet the family of a former student of Asturias. Don Emilio and Dona Flor welcomed us into their home and showed us their weaving techniques. I am sorry to say that I don’t remember the names of the machines that they demonstrated weaving on, but they were very old. Don Emilio couldn’t remember the exact date of the machine he works on daily but said it has been in his family for generations. Like many families in Guatemala, weaving has played an integral role in this family. In fact, Don Emilio showed us his signature design. It is the pattern that sells best and he said he has to continue to make it so that no one steals his trademark look. He also showed us some samples of his other designs, at one point wrapping the sample around his head and saying, “Like Rambo, no?” Both he and Dona Flora were not only friendly, but absolutely hilarious.
Don Emilio demonstrating weaving and showing us the design he is best known for
Photo: Leta Ward
After learning about weaving techniques, Dona Flor took us on short (yet steep!) hike up to the cross which overlooks the town. This is the site of many religious ceremonies, and is the location for the image above. When we asked her to be in the photograph, she posed herself on the ground in front of the group. She’s such a character.
Photo: Carolyne Menard
Our time in Salcaja also included a trip through the town market and a visit to a church, la Iglesia San Jacinto. The church, founded in 1524, is the oldest in Central America. We ended our day in Salcaja with a visit to the home of a maker of the town liquor, Caldo de Frutas (“Fruit Juice”). The owner brought out samples of the fruit and the red liquor for us to try. He says he ferments the fruit for 6 months, the long fermentation time is because the fruit is so hard that it takes that amount of time to get the juices to flow. He was quick to tell us that the red color was natural and that no chemicals are added.
It was a wonderful trip, especially having the ability to meet the family of Asturias. Their son, who graduated a few years ago, now works in Guatemala City for the National Electric company. Don Emilio was very proud as he was telling us of his accomplishments.
By Suzanne Fernando
In 2012, Librarians Without Borders hosted its first “Library Day” for the students and teachers of Miguel Asturias Academy. Students from K-12 got the chance to come into the library throughout the day for activities introducing them to the growing collection of over 3000 books in Spanish, English and native language, K’iche.
This year, Library Day was even better. Brand new activities planned for the students got them excited about the library and its collection. The library was divided into three stations with age appropriate activities– from storytelling and making bookmarks for the younger children, to more involved activities for the older students including a library scavenger hunt and “book buffet.” In the scavenger hunt students learned about the organization of the library and its resources by searching for materials using the Dewey Decimal system and other book categories (i.e. reading level and language). The book buffet was an opportunity for the students to sample different books and write what they found interesting about each book and share it with their peers. Throughout the day, each class in Asturias got the chance to visit the library and participate in these activities with our enthusiastic team members.Asturias hopes to have a lending system up and running in the near future to allow the students of the school the opportunity to borrow books and take them home. Library Day was an awesome opportunity for us to share the resources Asturias has to offer with its students, while teaching them how to use the library in a fun and meaningful way. It was also a chance for us to showcase the new books that have been added to the collection with the students and teachers.
The smiles on their faces and hugs and kisses as they left the library said it all–the library was a fun place for them to be and we were happy to play a part in that excitement!
By Laura George
Over the last four years Librarians Without Borders (LWB) has partnered with Miguel Angel Asturias Academy to help build a library for the students and staff at the school. With help from sponsors and the LWB’s student groups the Asturias library is currently home to 3089 books. These books include fiction and non-fiction titles, as well as text books and reference materials.
The library is a fairly new addition to Asturias and many of the teachers are still testing ways in which they can incorporate library resources into their class lessons. An Information Literacy team comprised of seven members was appointed to work on this project.
The focus of the Information Literacy Project is to promote the development of students’ and teacher’s ability to best utilize library resources. This includes speaking to teachers and presenting them with programming ideas that connect the library with the school curriculum. It also focuses on familiarizing the students with the materials available in the library and the system used to organize the books. This year the team is working to educate the students on the new lending system that LWB is currently working to implement.
The InfoLit Project is comprised of 3 sub-projects:
(1) Information Literacy Package
This project builds off of previous years’ work to develop the Library programming recommendations for Asturias guide. Last year’s participants developed an overview of the suggestions LWB participants had for the school. This year’s focus is determining what the teachers and library staff would like to see promoted at the library. This information will be included it in the programming document along with library programming ideas.
(2) Library Day
This is the second year that LWB has delivered Library Day to the children at Asturias. Last year it was a tremendous success. Library Day is a single day where each class from the school will be brought to the library to engage in fun activities that promote information literacy, self-directed learning, and use of the library.
(3) Lending Instruction
The purpose of this project is to design and present an instructional session for students that raises awareness of the new lending system LWB is implementing in the library. Currently students are not able to take materials out of the library, but that will change with the implementation of this new system. These sessions are intended to prepare the students for this new service. The sessions cover how to check materials in and out of the library, as well as how to care for the books when they are checked out of the library.
It will be a busy couple of weeks, but we are all looking forward to working with the students and learning from the teachers. Stay tuned for updates on these projects!