Library Day: Magical Realism with Grade 7-8

By Lisa Elchuk and Anne Rojas

We created a magical realism genre-based program with a social/emotional literacy focus. 

The program was delivered to students in Grades 7-10, over three sessions. The delivery of the programming for the students was first created in English, then translated to Spanish.

We read aloud the first chapter of A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness, together with the students and engaged with them by asking for volunteer readers. The students were hesitant to read at first; students in the older grades ended up being more likely to offer to read with us. As the reading progressed, students grew more confident and we had more reading volunteers.
They were all actively engaged in the story, turning pages synchronously with us. There were gasps from some students, in each of the grades, at the end of the chapter. 

After answering a few social and emotional learning reflective questions, the students and LWB volunteers worked together to untangle a human knot. The idea behind this was to model positive, collaborative relationships between the students and adults.  A few students were embarrassed and hesitant at first but all rose to the occasion; each group ended up very proud of their problem-solving prowess, even though some human knot untangling failed!

The final activity was a prompt for the students to describe a person place or activity where they feel safe and happy.  Answers ranged from playing soccer with friends, being with friends and loved ones or listening to music in their rooms. We asked the students to write their answers on leaves which we then affixed to the paper tree LWB volunteers had used in prior programs for the Asturias students.

We created a booklist for the Asturias Library, with other magical realism titles including A Monster Calls, The Graveyard Book in graphic novel format, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Carry On. We reviewed the Asturias catalog prior to creating the booklist to utilize their offerings and then added additional titles to supplement their collection.
Overall the program was incredibly successful and we feel gave the students a different perspective on traditional library programming.

Library Day 2 – Masks & Mayan Folklore

by Melissa Mejia and Camlin Vinayagamoorthy

Library Day 2 was a great success! We led the program for Grades 4-6 which entailed a dramatized oral storytelling performance based on David Wisniewski’s The Rain Player, a Mayan folktale about the power of unity within a community. The story explores the relationship between humans, nature, and wildlife all depending on one another to end the heavy drought that has threatened their existence. In our adapted version we also added the role of the library in providing the humans access to information on how and where to find the wisdom of the animals in the rainforest. In the library he discovers that he needs the strength of the Jaguar, the silent speed of the Quetzal, and the resourcefulness of the Cenote to defeat the wickedness of the Rain God. It was a silent dramatization with a behind the scenes narrator so that students only experienced the visual performance of the volunteers who were each wearing a unique mask that differentiated their characters to the audience. There were also sound effects and music which the students enjoyed. 

Following the performance students were invited to create their own mask inspired by Mayan folklore, however some decided to personalize their mask in a unique way such as adding pharaoh inspired beards, blushed cheeks, and emoji inspired expressions. If time permitted certain groups were also given the opportunity to participate in a hands on scavenger hunt that would reinforce their knowledge of the library collections.

Our goal with this program was to connect literacy as a vital part of the community through Mayan folklore that depicts a positive relationship between humans, wildlife, and the library. Students learned about the preservation of the Mayan culture through the storytelling performance and the mask workshop while also learning about the preservation of the library materials through a scavenger hunt that teaches them how to properly navigate the library. What we learned throughout the performances was that students were thrilled to see a different form of storytelling unfold right before their eyes.  The efforts from the students in creating their own personalized masks showed us that ultimately they each had their own story, and by creating and wearing that unique mask they gained the confidence in sharing their own story.

Collection Team Update: 200 (and counting) books for Asturias

By Lindsay Hall and Dana Young

After a wonderful welcome from the children and staff, the collection team got to work on unpacking the 200 books that the LWB team brought with us in our luggage. We had a chance to poke through the library and get familiar with Asturias Academy’s collection. The library is located on the top floor of the school, giving it a quiet refuge. Visitors take off their shoes to help make sure the carpet stays clean. Even with the limitations of the collection it’s clear that the space is well-maintained and well-loved.

We purchased titles from Piedra Santa Publishing in Guatemala City with donations from Librarians Without Borders, community groups, and individual contributions earlier in the week. Those books would arrive later. In the meantime, we had plenty to do organizing the books that we brought with us. There were books that any school librarian would recognize: Ciudades de Papel (Cities of Paper), Harold y el Lápiz Color Morado (Harold and the Purple Crayon), and El Capitán Calzonzillos (Captain Underpants). Asturias Academy Librarian Señora Dorita reviewed the donations and commented “que lindos todos estos libros, ahora tendré que dormir en la biblioteca para tener tiempo de leerlos todos.” Some of the titles, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid (or Diario de Greg) and The Giving Tree seem to be as popular with young readers here as they are back home.

We spent most of the day working out our process. It took some time to understand the system Sra. Dorita set up for her students. It’s important to make sure that each book is housed in the appropriate section in order to best serve the students and help maintain an organized library. We did some careful organizing and reviewing to make sure we were on the right track. We got a start on the cataloging and processing of the donated titles. It should be a productive week.

Purchasing books for Asturias at Piedra Santa

by Lindsay Hall and Marika Hunter

On our first day we visited publishing company Piedra Santa in Guatemala City. At first glance it appeared to be a small storefront, but as we began our tour it became clear there’s much more than meets the eye. It contains a storefront, a printing area, an administrative department, and a warehouse. In each space and person we met on the tour there was an evident devotion to promoting Guatemalan culture and literature, as is reflected in their motto, “Educando generaciones siempre.”

The collection development team’s primary goal was to choose non-fiction books for Miguel Angel Asturias Academy’s growing library. The tour guide had helpfully pre-selected newer titles for the entire group to browse. The collection development team sifted through the shelves to find the most appropriate books to purchase and add to the academy’s collection. The benefits of Piedra Santa’s approach to publication were evident as we made our selections. As school librarian Joy observed, “these books offer a specific look at each of the regions of Guatemala.”

We were able to make a diverse selection of books from encyclopedias about space to biography about Shakespeare. Our goal in providing an array of topics is to spark student interest and nudge them down the path of lifelong learning.

There was one challenge some of the team encountered while choosing books: the language barrier. But you can’t stop a group of librarians from hauling away books. We were able to assess the books’ appropriateness based on the quality of the binding, the clarity of non-text features, and shelf appeal (of course). With support from other members of the team we were able to choose new, exciting materials.
It was exciting to be able to tour Piedra Santa and get a different perspective on the relationship between publishing and libraries. However, this was just the first step in the process of getting books in the hands of students. More to come in the days ahead.

Our 2017 Guatemala Service Trip Team

Anne Rojas
Liaison Librarians to the College of Education at Walden University in Minneapolis, Minnesota

– how you heard about the Guatemala Service Trip: I don’t remember how I heard about LWB!   I’m subscribed to a lot of professional listservs so I probably heard through email.   I originally found out about the Guatemala service trip in 2016 but couldn’t go because of a schedule conflict, so I’ve been working on it for over a year!

– librarianship philosophy:  My philosophy as a librarian  … I consider myself first and foremost to be an educator.  I feel very strongly about the power of literature and the free-flow of information.  Now, living in the Information Age, I find myself focusing on the importance of critical thinking about information in general, and smart information seeking behavior in particular.


John Archer.
Retired from my daily work as a school librarian about 10 years ago, having  pursued the joys of working in elementary, middle and high school public and private schools.  

– how you heard about the Guatemala Service Trip: I’ve been following LWB for a few years, intrigued by the thought of again working overseas in a school library.  

– librarianship philosophy: School libraries are wonderful centres of community, both within  schools as well as within greater public communities and I appreciate the LWB opportunity to contribute to this campaign of information and reading literacy.


Marika Hunter
Student at McGill in the Master of Information Studies program.

– how you heard about the Guatemala Service Trip: I heard about the LWB Guatemala trip through the McGill Student Chapter of LWB, of which I am a member.

– librarianship philosophy: My librarianship philosophy is something along the lines of I think access to information and literacy are the cornerstone of basically all human development and progress. I think libraries have a responsibility to be political by always promoting equality, diversity, non-discrimination and social mobility/justice/welfare.


Sofia De La Mora
MLIS Candidate -University of Arizona

– how you heard about the Guatemala Service Trip: I heard about the trip through the University. It was an email about the volunteer opportunity, I was so excited the moment I read what it was about and decided to apply. I couldn’t have been happier the moment I received my acceptance letter!

– librarianship philosophy: libraries is that one thing humanity got right. The are the heart and nucleus of a society.  They have been an indispensable source for knowledge and community involvement and will not stop that at anytime soon. I became a librarian because I believe that education is the way to make a better world for current and future generations. I am committed to serving the community by providing intellectual and resources. My duty is to help spread information literacy throughout the world and to help those who have less thrive in a world of social and economical inequities.


Debbie Chavez
Guatemala Program Lead

I’ve been interested in serving in Guatemala since the 90’s, when I become aware of the country’s civil war after reading I, Rigoberta Menchú. I’ve worked for many years as a public librarian and am now making the transition to school libraries. This volunteer work is very fulfilling because many of my talents and skills blend into one powerful experience where I’m encouraging a love of reading in children and teens and working with the teachers who nurture these children every day. And it’s all done in the breathtaking setting of Guatemala, with its beautiful people, colorful buses, homemade corn tortillas, and juicy ripe mangoes.


Dana Young
Instruction / Technology Librarian, Gavilan College Library

– how you heard about the Guatemala Service Trip: I had heard of the work LWB was doing. I have been following the organization for a while but never thought I’d be accepted as a volunteer.

– librarianship philosophy: I consider myself an evangel for the power of libraries to change lives. I am a second generation librarian. I believe access to information can help users achieve their goals.


Lisa Elchuk
Upper School (Gr. 9-12) Librarian, MSUS Library, Crescent School, Toronto, Canada

– how you heard about the Guatemala Service Trip: I have followed the Librarians Without Borders Facebook group for a while and noticed the announcement inviting applications for this year’s trip to Guatemala. At the same time, I attended a session at the Ontario Library Association’s Super Conference, this past February, where Joy and Jorge spoke about the LWB trip to Guatemala. I usually lead an International Outreach program to a school in South Africa, where we frame our trip around a literacy and arts program for Grade 2 learners. Our School recently put a moratorium on international travel, so we were not able to go. When I looked at the Guatemala trip and what it entailed, I was thrilled to see that it was very similar to the learning service opportunities we provide our students, in our International Outreach programming. The timing of the invitation to apply seemed serendipitous, so I did, was accepted and here I am!

– librarianship philosophy: I am a fierce proponent of access to information and the student right to read anything. I believe that encouraging students to make their own choices in what they want to read, fosters a continued relationship with reading, moving well into adulthood. I also believe in the student’s right to question and engage with information, and my goal in our Library space is to provide my students with a safe and welcoming environment to do these things. My interest in reading as a social and emotional tool has been growing over the years I have worked at Crescent School and I always look forward to enhancing what our current offerings are in our Library – from playdoh to LEGO to yoga to finger knitting and colouring – in addition to our growing Wellness print and online collection, specifically geared toward young adult issues, concerns and interests.


Camlin Vinayagamoorthy
Senior Library Assistant at Toronto Public Library Flemingdon Park Branch

– how you heard about the Guatemala Service Trip: 7 years ago while I was doing research on global librarianship opportunities, I came across the LWB website and ended up joining as a member. I’ve been wanted to go on the Guatemala service trip since then and I finally mustered up the courage to apply this year!

– librarianship philosophy: “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life”, but what good is knowing how to fish without a rod? I believe librarianship is not merely limited to providing access to intellectual freedom but to also empower and educate communities with what to do with those resources. A large part of public librarianship is social responsibility and actively outreaching and forming local partnerships to bridge access to those resources. In doing so, we can develop a better understanding of the community’s needs and how we can provide the necessary services and resources to help foster a generation of independent, empowered and engaged users.


Melissa Mejia
Library Associate for Kern County Library (California, USA)/ San Jose State University MLIS student

How you heard about the Guatemala Service Trip: I first heard about LWB when I officially decided to pursue my MLIS and I did a quick online search for international librarianship opportunities. When I saw the website for LWB I knew then that one day I would apply and contribute to the cause for supporting literacy and breaking down barriers to information.

– librarianship philosophy: I grew up in a very small rural town in California where the public library served as my window to the rest of the world. I learned then what I advocate for now, that libraries offer valuable access which ultimately leads to opportunity. My philosophy on librarianship rests on the principle of promoting and protecting this access across the world. When libraries are well funded and well supported they can evolve into vibrant community spaces that empowers its users to take part in building connections between their needs and the resources available to meet those needs. In this way, we build strong communities


Sarivette Ortiz
Librarian, Ana G Mendez University System

– how you heard about the Guatemala Service Trip: I saw the LWB link on Facebook, there I read about the project and the opportunity to volunteer. I was impressed about the way other librarians told their experiences in Guatemala.

– librarianship philosophy: I believe in freedom of information, everyone should have the right to access information and to receive education to develop critical thinking


Joy Kim
Library Media Specialist & Metadata Intern, Mills High School & Stanford University

– how you heard about the Guatemala Service Trip: I heard about LWB through SJSU email announcements(current student online). I have traveled to 22+ countries and have also studied and taught abroad. My favorite country is probably Japan because people are so considerate and kind there.

– librarianship philosophy: My librarianship philosophy is still growing, but as a former educator I lean towards constructivist frameworks that focus on creating learning environments based on the learners’ experience and background.


Wendy Paulas
Reference Librarian, Denver Public Library

– how you heard about the Guatemala Service Trip: I heard about the Guatemala service trip via the Librarians Without Borders Facebook page.

– librarianship philosophy: My library philosophy is to create life-long library customers by implementing library services designed for customers of all ages seeking popular materials and friendly service.


Rachel Riter
Graduate Intern at ASU Hayden Library/ San Jose State University MLIS student

– how you heard about the Guatemala Service Trip: I first heard about LWB when I was researching international librarianship opportunities. I signed up for the newsletters and when they sent out a call asking for volunteers I applied right away!

– librarianship philosophy: I believe libraries should be a place where curiosity can be explored, discover partners in exploration ,and where information literacy and social justice is one cohesive pedagogy.


Jorge Rivera
Branch Head, Toronto Public Library

– how you heard about the Guatemala Service Trip: I participated as a volunteer in 2014.  I led programming for young and middle-aged children.  It was a  rewarding experience for me.  It gave me a chance to practice my skills in a new service environment and help those in need at the same time.  I’m back again this year to practice what I’ve learned and to support a good cause.

– librarianship philosophy:I love the profession.  I believe that libraries build stronger communities.  We collect resources that respond to needs and trends and develop policies to ensure they are shared responsibly.  Libraries support self-learning and capacity building.  We develop environments that allow people to be in-charge of their own personal growth.  I believe the world is a better place when we all have the opportunity to explore our intellectual curiosities.


Lindsay Hall
Library media specialist at D.C. Public Schools.

– librarianship philosophy: I look forward to engaging in the exchange of information as a member of Librarians without Borders’ 2017 volunteer group. I believe libraries have the potential to enrich communities and to empower patrons. It will be exciting to see the ways students and teachers interact with their library. Life is better with books and adventure, and this trip promises both.

Guatemala Trip Information Meeting: Recording Available Online

Join Librarians Without Borders on Sunday, February 5 at 9 pm EST / 6 pm PST for an online information meeting about our upcoming service trip to Guatemala. This is an open meeting — all are welcome! 

Access the recording of the February 5 information meeting here (no password required).


LWB will be in Guatemala from April 21-May 1, 2017 to work with our partner, Miguel Angel Asturias Academy.  At the information meeting a presentation will be given introducing our partner and outlining trip goals and logistics.  Attendees will also have an opportunity to ask questions. Anyone who is interested in applying for the trip is welcome to attend the meeting.

Learn more about the trip and access the trip application form here. The deadline for applications is February 13.

A recording of the meeting will be posted afterward for those who cannot attend. For more information contact

Access the web meeting using the links/information provided below:

Join WebEx meeting
Meeting number: 625 816 161
Meeting password: LWB2017
Join by phone
1-650-479-3208 Call-in toll number (US/Canada)
Access code: 625 816 161


Why I’m Going to Guatemala

by Jorge Rivera

I’m honoured to be co-leading the LWB service trip in Guatemala this year.  Both my parents are from Guatemala and so are our ancestors.  My parents, although meeting in Canada, both came with the intentions of raising a family.  They taught me the importance of hard work, making good use of my time and not forgetting about our family back home.   I feel it in my pulse to give back and share all the skills that I’m so fortunate to have.  I’m enthralled by this unique opportunity to connect my love of reading and thirst for learning with something that runs so deeply in my heart.  I hope you all consider applying to be part of this unforgettable experience.


 “A chance to share your skills to support a long-term transformative cause.”

What inspired me to lead the LWB project in Guatemala this year?

Many reasons!  It was difficult trimming it down, but below are my top 3 reasons.

Sharing our Skills.

The LWB project in Asturias is a real opportunity to share our skills professionally.  Many of us work or go to school in resource rich environments and with organizations that have a long standing emphasis on learning, professional development and innovation.   Our professional working environments have fuelled growth in our abilities and skills.  Supporting library and teaching staff at MA Asturias Academy, is a chance to build capacity and share ideas and skills with library and teaching staff who operate in environments that are not as fortunate as our own.

I Love Libraries.

I believe libraries have mastered the art of sharing.  We pool and organize resources and make them accessible to the communities we serve.  Then we develop sound policies and systems to ensure these resources are distributed fairly and equitably.  This brings communities together and supports learning and literacy.

The Experience.

Volunteering for LWB is a learning experience.  It’s about immersing yourself in a new culture, learning about library building activities that support critical education, absorbing the beauty of the Guatemalan culture, and learning from peers.  There’s something very special about working with a committed group of librarians that believe in social justice and understand the long-term benefits of building good libraries.  This trip will not only change the community we serve, it will also change you.

To apply: Submit a completed volunteer application to by February 13.

Call for Volunteers: 2017 Guatemala Service Trip

This is the eighth consecutive spring that LWB is traveling to the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Since 2010 over 120 librarians and library science students have spent more than 40 working days onsite to help our partner realize and grow their dream of an open stacks, circulating school library. What started as cinder blocks in 2010 is now the vibrant center of the school.

LWB uses this annual service trip to execute our remote work on the ground, to discuss emerging needs with our partner, and to re-connect with students and school staff. We invite you to work alongside us this year from April 21 to May 1, 2017.

This year’s work at the Academy will include ongoing collection management activities (cataloguing, processing, and organizing materials), library programming for students, and training for teachers. LWB works with Asturias to also provide opportunities for trip participants to engage in activities that will help nurture a comprehensive understanding of libraries, education and culture in Guatemala. Typically trip participants are also given the opportunity to help finalize the last weekend activity (for example, visit scenic Lake Atitlán or trek to one of Guatemala’s volcanic peaks).

Primary Projects

  • Cataloging, processing, and adding new items to the library’s collection.
  • Library programming targeting all students and levels through multi-day library events.
  • Professional development workshops for teachers supporting library integration into the curriculum.

Housing and Food
While in Quetzaltenango (Xela), participants will stay and eat most of their meals at the COFA Catholic Retreat Centre. On the weekends meals are eaten with a local family or at local restaurants. Vegetarian options will be available.

All trip volunteers are expected to:

  • Attend online meetings (3-4) to discuss projects and receive training on the Asturias Library and the local community context. These meetings are mandatory for all volunteers.
  • Join and contribute to a working team before the trip.
  • Participate in pre-and post-trip assessments (e.g. evaluation surveys).

Program Fees
The program fee is $1525 CAD* (= ~$1160 USD) for 11 days. This total covers lodging, food, transportation and entrance to all activities within Guatemala, as well as a fundraising fee to support LWB programs. Trip participants are responsible for paying their own airfare to and from Guatemala.

There is a $500 CAD non-refundable deposit due by all accepted applicants by February 24. The remainder of the fees ($1025 CAD) can be paid at the same time or by March 10*.

In addition, all trip participants are expected to bring extra spending money for additional purchases such as souvenirs and snacks, as well as occasional meals in Guatemala ($50-100 is adequate).

Note, in previous years some participants have created crowdfunding campaigns to wholly or partially offset the costs of the trip. LWB uses our social media channels to promote those campaigns for participants.

Important Dates

  • Guatemala Information Meeting (online) – February 5 @ 9 pm EST
  • Application Deadline – February 13
  • Successful applicants selected and notified – February 18
  • $500 CAD* non-refundable deposit due – February 24
  • $1025 CAD* remainder of program fees – March 10

*Note: The $1525 CAD may be revised to a new final figure if a significant change in exchange rate occurs. Should this happen, the information would be published by February 24.

How to apply: Submit a completed volunteer application to by February 13.

Field Notes: Visiting Piedra Santa

by Erica Younglove

Saturday – our first full day in Guatemala – we got to visit and tour Piedra Santa, a publishing house and bookstore, in their new facility. Piedra Santa has been in their new building for about eight months. They employ 100 employees, 35 who work in their offices. They are able to publish a book from start to finish, with a facility that includes machines that cut paper, bind and glue books, and print in multiple colors of ink, and a bookstore.


Piedra Santa’s new space also includes office space, garage, and a two-floor warehouse.  They sell and publish local Guatemalan authors, and are working  on getting the rights to translate foreign materials into Spanish. This includes math workbooks requested by local teachers, as well as printing custom orders for local businesses.

Our LWB team also purchased books to take with us to donate to Asturias, and were very happy to support a local Guatemalan publisher.

Meet the 2016 Guatemala Service Trip Team

Debbie Chavez

Debbie Chavez
Program Manager, LWB Asturias
Co-trip leader

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I’ve been a librarian for many years in public libraries in the US. I went as a volunteer on the Asturias trip last year and felt that my work wasn’t done, that I needed to continue to work with the school. I’m thrilled to be involved on an ongoing basis as the program manager!

Where else have you travelled?
I’ve travelled extensively in Mexico and a little bit in Canada and Guatemala. I’ve also travelled through many of the states in the western US and a few other cities like Chicago, Boston, and Washington DC.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
Many years ago, I read the book “I, Rigoberta Menchu” and was horrified at the atrocities being committed against the indigenous people of Guatemala. Later, it was proven that much of the information in the book didn’t actually happen to her family. Nonetheless, the atrocities she described did happen to others, and her book brought the world’s attention to the Guatemalan civil war. Ever since then, I knew that I wanted to do something to help the people of Guatemala. I heard about this trip through Facebook and knew that I wanted to be involved. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to combine my love of books and reading with helping people in an area of the world that I’ve been interested in for a very long time.


Dee Winn

Dee Winn
Head, Information Services, Concordia University Library
Co-trip leader,  Collection Development/Cataloguing Team Lead

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I’ve been an LWB student advisor for MLIS/MISt programs for the past three years and a librarian for 9 years.

Where else have you travelled?
My most recent travels were to the United Arab Emirates, but I’ve also been to Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I was a volunteer on the 2014 Guatemala Service Trip and am excited to be returning to Asturias to continue LWB’s great work!


Erica Younglove

Erica Younglove
Reference Librarian at Jefferson-Madison Regional Library in Charlottesville, VA
Communications Team Lead

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I’ve been working in public libraries for over 7 years mostly in adult and reference services.

Where else have you travelled?
I have previously traveled throughout the U.S. and Canada, and to Scotland, Ghana, and Turkey.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I think I was searching for international librarian travel opportunities and found it that way. When I found it I knew I wanted to participate since it combines my passion for libraries and literacy with my love of travel.


Celia Avila

Celia Avila
Young Adult Librarian, Los Angeles Public library, Harbor City-Harbor Gateway Branch
Library Day Team Lead, Communications Team, translations

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I volunteered at my local library as a teen and then went on to work at the library while I completed my studies. I’ve worked for the Los Angeles Public Library for almost 11 years now, 4 as a librarian. I’ve worked mainly in Hispanic communities with an emphasis on providing library services to teens and young adults, a topic I’ve also presented on at conferences in the last few years. Additionally, I am an active member of Reforma, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking, and currently serving as the Los Angeles Chapter Vice President/ incoming President.

Where else have you traveled?
I have only been to Zacatecas, Mexico.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I heard about the trip a few years ago from a colleague in Reforma but wasn’t able to apply until now. I had desire to attend for the opportunity to share the skills and knowledge I have acquired through my experiences in libraries. I also wanted the opportunity to learn more about the culture and how libraries operate in other parts of the world in order to better inform my service and my global understanding of libraries in our society.  


Liz Blackall

Liz Blackall
Community Librarian, Hamilton Public Library
Cataloguing team

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I’m excited to be volunteering for Librarians without Borders for the first time. I have my Masters in Library Science and Bachelor of Education from Western University in London Ontario. I’ve been working at Hamilton Public Library since 2013. My first librarian role was in youth services and I’ve recently moved to a position working with our bookmobiles and visiting library service. It’s a fun and rewarding position serving some of our most vulnerable patrons (and no, they do not let me drive the bookmobile).

Where else have you travelled?
Guatemala will be first big international trip since I was 12 and visited family in Ireland. I enjoy outdoorsy activities, so most of my travelling has involved camping in Ontario.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
My wonderful friend from library school, Alexandra Ferguson, participated in this trip for two years. I was inspired by her stories and photographs and have wanted to come ever since! She encouraged me to apply this year. It’s long been a goal of mine to learn more about international librarianship. Now that I’m done with school and have a job I love, I want to start giving back and become more involved in non-profit organizations and humanitarian projects.


Saudra Alvarez

Saudra Alvarez
Help Saudra fund her trip
OSL III at Pima County Library
Professional Development Team

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I have worked for Pima County Library for almost 16 years. I started as a teenager working as a computer monitor. I was a computer monitor for 2 years. I would sign up patrons on computers, and helped them from printing, saving documents, and searching the internet. I created brochures, flyers for the library, and participated In storytime. I then was a page for 3 years. In this position I filed books in alphabetical order, title, author, and also non-fiction as well. Now I’m a clerk I work on serials, damaged items, inter-library loans. I’m also in charge of the Eckstrom-Columbus Library bulletin board. I’m in charge of distributing informational brochures, flyers etc. I work helping patrons from creating new library accounts, checking in/out materials. I also help patrons look up library material on our catalog, and searching our library databases. I assist downloading Ebooks, emagazines, free music on our database (freegal). I assist in computer questions, and faxing. I have also in the past taught Spanish computer classes from beginners computer class, search the internet, create documents in Microsoft word, search the internet, and facebook.

Where else have you travelled?
In the US and Guatemala

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I heard about this wonderful service trip through a colleague. I love helping others, and my parents home Country is Guatemala. This is a great way to give back, and learn more about my culture. I look forward to meeting everybody and participating in this great opportunity while working with teachers and students and promote the importance of literacy, and outreach programs.


Cat Silvers

Cat Silvers
First Year Outreach Librarian, University of North Florida
Library Day team

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I found my love for libraries purely by accident. In college I studied Humanities at Florida State University (FSU) and discovered a strong attraction to Art History through required courses for graduation. I decided to pursue a Master of Arts degree in Art History with the intention of someday becoming a museum curator. Early on in my graduate program I decided on an internship at the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. I was originally placed in the curatorial department, but was soon moved to the museum’s library to do research for upcoming exhibits. It was in the Ringling’s library that I realized that libraries were my calling. After completing my Master in Art History, I went on to get my MLIS degree. My first part-time librarian position was at FSU where I fell in love with helping students succeed and welcomed the organized chaos of academic libraries. In my current role as the First Year Outreach Librarian at the University of North Florida, I forge partnerships with campus organizations and connect all students in their first year at the university to library resources and services through exciting programs and events.

Where else have you travelled?
I have travelled to Canada, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Costa Rica, and Haiti. In 2006 I also travelled to Italy, where I lived in the small town of San Venanzo for five weeks. The purpose of that trip was to participate in an archaeological dig that focused on uncovering ancient Etruscan artifacts. Just prior to this year’s LWB trip to Guatemala I’ll also be travelling briefly in the Yucatan, Honduras, and Belize.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I discovered Librarians Without Borders while browsing through an American Library Association email newsletter. I have been interested in travelling abroad for non-vacation experiences, and when I saw that I could apply my experience as a librarian to help the people of Guatemala, I knew I needed to fill out an application.


Miria Olson

Miria Olson
Master of Information Studies student at McGill University (Montreal, Canada)
Professional Development team

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I work at a public library in Montreal and I am a member of the McGill University LWB chapter.

Where else have you travelled?
I spent five years working as an English teacher in Spain and the Canary Islands. I travelled to many European countries during that time. I have also worked and studied in New Zealand, Iceland and France. During high school, I did a short exchange program in Costa Rica and I’m very excited to return to Central America with LWB this year!

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I heard about the program from previous participants and they encouraged me to apply. I applied for this program because I love the Spanish language and I am very interested in children’s literacy. I think this trip will be a great learning opportunity.


Mary Block

Mary Block
Library Assistant, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) / San Jose State University MLIS student
Collection Development team

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
My career in libraries started with a student worker position as an undergrad.  I found that I loved helping connect people with information and giving them the tools to succeed in school and beyond.  I’ve since worked in public libraries as a children’s and teen librarian; in a genealogy and historical collections library; and now I work in an academic library at an art and design school.  I believe in the life-changing powers of libraries, and I’m so happy to contribute to LWB’s mission of improving access to information resources.

Where else have you travelled?
I’ve been to Montreal, Canada, and I’ve traveled all around the U.S., but this will be my first trip south of the border.  

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I took a course at SJSU with Melanie Sellar, a founder of LWB.  We spent a lot of time researching Guatemala and the Asturias Academy in Quetzaltenango, and we developed project proposals for specific issues affecting the school and the community there.  It was unlike any course I’ve ever taken for my MLIS, and I was incredibly inspired by the work being done at Asturias.  I’m excited to see the great work there firsthand!


Jay Peters

Jay Peters
Coquitlam Public Library
Collection Development team

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I have been a librarian for the past 10 years; was at Western University just after LWB came into being.

Where else have you travelled?
Europe, Korea, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Mexico, Laos, Cambodia, Japan and Vietnam.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
A friend suggested it.  It’s nice to go to a new place and be able to help out at the same time.


Georgi Bordner

Georgianne (Georgi) Bordner
Head of Technical Services, Regent University Library, Virginia Beach, VA
Collection Development team, “assistant interpreter”

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
My father was a technical services librarian, and I was not only named for him, but followed in his footsteps professionally.  All of my experience has been in academic libraries, mostly in cataloging.  I have also done a lot of volunteer work with the Commission for International Library Advancement (CILA), a group with a similar mission to LWB’s. One of our main activities has been the training of overseas librarians who have not had the benefit of a formal education in library science.  I was involved in the production of The Librarian’s Manual, the textbook we use in our librarian training seminars, and also served as one of the translators and editors of the Spanish edition.

Where else have you travelled?
I participated in librarian training seminars with CILA in Bolivia, India, Trinidad, and Malaysia.  I have also traveled to Mexico, Peru, Ukraine, France, Switzerland, and Germany.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I saw the announcement for the trip in an ALA newsletter, and immediately knew I wanted to go.  Even though I have been able to travel to a variety of places, my primary interest has always been Latin America, so I couldn’t pass up this opportunity! I am looking forward to using my knowledge of Spanish and my library skills to make a difference in the library and the lives of the students and teachers who use it.


Chelsea Weissman

Chelsea Weissman
Children’s Librarian at the Grandview Library in Columbus, Ohio. I’m also a part time piano teacher.
Library Day Team

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
The Guatemala service trip and I like them on facebook. 🙂

Where else have you travelled?
I studied for a semester in college in Hungary.  While there, I also got to travel to Greece, Austria, Italy, Belgium, and England.  Since then, I’ve been to Scotland, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Glacier, Yellowstone, and Yosemite National Parks, Key West, Bar Harbor, San Francisco, Napa, Maui.  I’m going to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest in May!

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I saw it on the group “Storytime Underground” on facebook.  When I saw the post about it, I was very intrigued, as I’ve been wanting to do some kind of trip where I’m more immersed in a culture and in a different way than just being a tourist.  I then went to the information meeting and it sounded more amazing, so I applied.  I also love being a children’s librarian so this specific service trip sounded great!


Amy Moskovitz

Amy Moskovitz
Help Amy fund her trip
Teacher at Northfield Elementary School and graduate student (MLIS) at San Jose State University (SJSU).
Library Day team

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I am currently pursuing my Master’s in library and information science and serve on my local public library’s Board of Trustees.

Where else have you travelled?
I have traveled mostly within the United States. Some of my favorite US destinations are New Orleans, Denver, San Francisco and Orlando. I have also traveled to the European countries of England, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Germany. This summer, I’m planning to visit Iceland.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I heard about the LWB Guatemala trip through SJSU. I love to travel and have a passion for teaching and literacy. I thought this opportunity would combine my interest in international travel and exploration with my background and interests in teaching, libraries and literacy. I am very excited to be joining LWB on this amazing trip!

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