Category: News

Getting to Know LWB: The Interns, Part II

This year, Librarians Without Borders joined forces with San Jose State University (SJSU) in California to offer a service-based learning-model Virtual Internship program. Three students working towards Masters in Library and Information Science at San Jose State’s i-School are interning as Program and Communications Assistants with LWB’ers Melanie Sellar, Founder and Co-Executive Director; Erika Heesen, Membership Director; and Brandie Burrows, Guatemala Limitless Horizons Program Manager. We’ll be chatting, Q&A style, with each of the three students over the next few weeks, to get to know the LWB Interns.

Smiley Face HeadshotAlison Peters, Communications Assistant Intern

What is your current job(s) title?  I’m currently a Lead Project Coordinator with HR Options, and a freelance writer for Book Riot.

Tell us a little about your education background and your interests. I love school, and I love reading and writing.  I received my BA in English from University of California, Berkeley, and then hopped right into the full time job stuff with HR Options. At some point I realized that I wanted to continue my writing studies, but also didn’t want to move too far away, so I found (and was lucky to be accepted to!) Mills College, in Oakland, California, where I completed an MFA in Creative Writing.

What about the LWB organization drew you to the organization?  How has your experience been thus far? LWB had me at their title, because my initial professional dream was to be a doctor with Doctors Without Borders. (Dream deferred by Chemistry 1 in college!) When I checked out their website, the group just got more and more interesting. I’m so excited to be interning with a nonprofit group, created by librarians, with the goal of educating and providing library services to communities who otherwise would be sorely lacking. I love that LWB isn’t afraid to go into vastly different communities, in far away countries, with different cultures and languages and ideas about libraries and books, and do the research to help develop programs that will be benefit to the people in that community.

So far, the internship experience has been amazing. LWB is organized, professional, interested in what we’re doing as students and how they can add to our skills, but also using the competencies we bring to the internship. It makes for a beautiful relationship.

At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to pursue your MLIS? I went to a professional job counseling service a few years ago, trying to determine where I wanted to take my career. The counselor was an ex-librarian, which was all I needed to see the signs: I started San Jose State’s MLIS (now i-School) just a semester later! I love the combination of skills I now have: writing, researching, reviewing, with a good dose of customer service, problem solving and troubleshooting for good measure. Virtual school and internships, and writing for Book Riot as part of a virtual team have shown me how many opportunities there are to create the type of work and work/life balance that I’m looking for.

What to you hope to accomplish with your MLIS?  What is your dream library job? I initially went into the MLIS to be a YA or youth librarian, as my best library memories are from my younger days, and I wanted to help give that back to kids. However, the more classes I take the more I realize I like the virtual/online/information aspect of being a librarian – which can actually mean not being a traditional librarian at all. I love that I’m coming across librarians whose focus is social media, outreach, etc. So at this point my dream job would be to work in a communications/online search capacity for a library or similar group, virtually, so that I can continue to write and finish up the degree in the next year.

Name three things you will take away from your experience with LWB and the virtual internship program.

  1. Always ask for nonprofit pricing! When doing research for LWB, it wasn’t in my usual line of questions to ask about special nonprofit pricing or program options. It’s great to know that a lot of companies have them, if you just ask nicely. And to think from the other side of the corporate world, which isn’t something I have a lot of experience with.
  2. A revived passion for social media tools. I was pretty stagnant in my personal social media life, just using Facebook, with passive LinkedIn and Pinterest accounts. Doing the social media research for LWB has given me a huge appreciation for how you can use the sites – including Twitter – to not just place targeted ads, but to really give your readers interesting articles, pictures, facts, blurbs. Essentially, whatever I might find interesting about LWB, chances are our reader population will too.
  3. Virtual work and tools for performing it are better than ever. I’m exploring the many facets of Google, from email, hang-outs, docs with sharing and notification permissions, and calendars. I’m proficient in Skyping and using WebEx, in addition to the Canvas/Blackboard/Collaborate with SLIS, and FaceTime on my iPhone.

What is your favorite book and why? I’m going back to an old favorite, Tar Baby, by Toni Morrison. I love this book for several reasons: one, it brought me close to a very good friend in college, when we both picked this book for our senior thesis project. And it’s just a beautiful book, telling a love story based on a fable, modernized, and still relevant. A beautiful young woman with a troubled family past falls in love with a boy from (essentially) the wrong side of the tracks, and has to chose if she’ll follow her heart or her family’s wishes. But much deeper than that, because – Toni Morrison.

Brotherton Library, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Which leads me to my favorite library, which is actually a close tie between two: the San Rafael branch library in Pasadena, California, where I grew up and where I discovered the joys of books; and the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds Leeds, UK. At San Rafael I haunted the aisles for LM Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott and the sisters Bronte – stories about family and chaste romance were my thing. But at Leeds, studying abroad in college, away from all of my family (and for that matter, my books) I would creep into the domed-ceiling library and find comfort in the African American fiction section, where I became really close with Alice Walker, June Jordan, Paule Marshall – women who spoke to me, comforted me and reminded me of home. Both libraries still hold special places in my heart.


Getting to Know You: The LWB Interns

This year, Librarians Without Borders joined forces with San Jose State University (SJSU) in California to offer a service-based learning-model Virtual Internship program. Three students working towards Masters in Library and Information Science at San Jose State’s i-School are interning as Program and Communications Assistants with LWB’ers Melanie Sellar, Founder and Co-Executive Director; Erika Heesen, Membership Director; and Brandie Burrows, Guatemala Limitless Horizons Program Manager. Using all of the virtual tools at their disposal – Skype, WebEx, Google, Only Office, good old phone calls – the interns are hard at work on projects including providing research assistance in support of the new emerging program with Limitless Horizons Ixil in Guatemala, and developing a communications/social media strategy for the group. We’ll be chatting, Q&A style, with each of the three students over the next few weeks, to get to know the LWB Interns.

Maryanne Daly-DoranMaryanne Daly-Doran, Communications Assistant Intern.

What was it about LWB that drew you to the internship?  In my position at the Hartford Public Library, I developed a special interest in the many pre-literate and non-literate (individuals who either speak a language that has no written form, or are illiterate in their native language) individuals who struggle with the literacy component of the naturalization exam. Working with so many individuals who come from countries with little or no library culture led me to evaluate how I had taken the free public libraries in the U.S. for granted. I often times wonder what my life would be like if there were no libraries? Imparting knowledge to an individual is so empowering, I knew when I heard about LWB that I wanted to be a part of it and its mission. I loved the idea of LWB’s service learning model and its goal of narrowing the information divide by supporting librarians in developing countries. To learn about international librarianship has been just an exhilarating experience.

Is this your first internship? How do you find the virtual part? This is the first internship I have participated in at SJSU.  I have found the virtual aspect to be very flexible and instructional as well. I love the regular check-ins with Melanie Sellar and Erika Heesen and their support of our learning experience as well. It is so amazing that there are so many ways to communicate and if one doesn’t work, there are always alternatives. I have learned much about collaboration and my technological skills grow by the day.

What was your experience with social media prior to this internship? How has working with LWB changed your thoughts or approach to social media? Admittedly, my experience with social media prior to this internship was limited to my personal Facebook account and the development of a few Facebook pages for some local school based organizations.  Working with LWB has made me realize how important it is to understand how the use of various social media tools bring value to the non-profit organization.  Social media platforms promote non-profit organization’s information and services, as well as bring people of similar interests together to network.  In developing Best Practice recommendations, I was invited to be an analyst and was able to compare and contrast similar pages as well as to watch the impact of different posts and methods.  I feel I gained invaluable experience first hand and have a much better understanding of strategy.

Weld Public LibraryWhat’s your favorite library, and why? What was your experience with this particular book home? My favorite library would have to be Weld Library in Weld, Maine (Population 340). It was at this library in this tiny town in the Appalachian mountains that I volunteered at the age of 12 with card cataloguing, thus initiating me into the world of libraries! It was in the stacks at this library that I became acquainted with the likes of Pearl Buck, Mark Twain, Tennyson and Poe. The fact that I was able to lose myself in the wondrous world of reading in this tiny, impoverished factory town during my vulnerable years makes this my favorite library, hands down.

What led you to San Jose State’s Library & Information Science program? Where do you see yourself, post-degree? As a child, I initially struggled to learn to read, I remember going into libraries with my mom and seeing the stacks of books that I wasn’t yet able to read. Fortunately, I had two parents who were library proponents and they instilled a love of books and libraries from a young age. When I finally mastered the skill of reading, I read everything I could find and have continued doing so throughout my life. I never take reading for granted and when I work with adults who are illiterate, I often wonder how my life would be if I was not able to read. It’s such a powerful question and I know I take the abundance of libraries in our country for granted at times. I initially entered Law School with the goal of working with underserved and vulnerable populations. While there, I always preferred time in the library over the class and never forgot this. When I was hired many years later at the Hartford Public Library as the program coordinator for the Citizenship Program, I realized how libraries affect change in the communities served.  I was encouraged to pursue my MLIS and the online learning environment made it possible for me to realize my dream.  My ideal job would be to work in literacy programming in underserved populations either here or somewhere else in the world.

What are you reading right now? I am reading two books (of course!). I am listening to The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison and reading Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok. I always have to be listening to a book on tape during my commute to work!

Join LWB: Accepting Nominations for Executive Team and Board Members

Librarians Without Borders’ 2014 Annual General Meeting (AGM) is soon approaching, and with it comes elections of particular Executive and Board positions as required by our bylaws. Download and read the job descriptions below for more information about what we’re looking for and how to apply.

Executive Team

Co-Executive Director (1 position)



Membership Director

Board of Directors

Board Member (2 positions)

Note: We are recruiting individuals who can help us to expand the resources of LWB through the growth of our membership and through fundraising.  If you have at least three years of professional experience and/or training in one or more of the following competencies we would welcome your Board application: organizational fundraising, communications strategy, brand strategy, association membership management, Masters of Business Administration.

To Apply

Read the application instructions in the job descriptions, complete the materials, and send to no later than July 19, 2014. Please direct all questions to

Candidate summaries will be disseminated to the membership in the AGM package prior to the AGM and candidates will be voted into office by LWB members who attend the AGM and those who have voted by proxy.


Join the LWB Team: Become Our New uWestern Advisor!

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Dear LWB Friends and Supporters,

Looking for a chance to join the LWB Executive Team? Have a keen
interest spreading literacy to the developing world? We are currently
seeking to fill a vacancy as Committee Advisor to our University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario) group.

As UWO Advisor, you will provide mentorship, support and guidance
to LWB’s London, Ontario based committee. You will sit as a member of the
Executive Team of Librarians Without Borders International and help
support the organization’s global literacy work. You’ll also gain
valuable experience and skills that can be applied to your future
academic and professional careers.

Desired Qualifications (full job description below):

-Be a member of Librarians Without Borders (sign up here for
free: Membership Form).

-Be passionate about our mission and have a dedicated interest in
providing literacy services to communities in need.

-Preferably live in or close to London, Ontario, or have some connection to
the UWO Committee or the London library community.

All interested applicants are encouraged to send a brief (100 word)
Statement of Interest to: mark.gelsomino AT

Any questions will be happily answered
via the same email address – and don’t forget to read the full job
description. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Student Committee Advisor Job Description

Mark Gelsomino & Melanie Sellar
Co-Executive Directors
Librarians Without Borders

*This is a volunteer position which will require approximately 8-15
hours per month.

Virtual Internships Available for SJSU SLIS

Join the Librarians Without Borders team as a Guatemala Program Assistant or as a Communications Assistant. Students in the School of Library & Information Science at San José State University (SJSU) can now apply for four virtual Fall 2014 internships on these teams.


New LWB Internships

Guatemala Program Assistants will support the work of our emerging program in Guatemala with the Limitless Horizons Ixil Community Library. Depending on the area of interest and experience, the Assistant will work primarily on foundational research projects for the Limitless Horizons community library focused on collection development strategies, library evaluation and impact measures, or literacy programming.

Communications Assistants will help to raise the visibility of our work by supporting a number of communications projects focused around LWB program areas, research interests, and programming efforts.This multi-platform communications support will include the LWB blog, e-newsletter, social media, marketing, and special events.

LWB is a non-profit organization with strong ties to library science graduate schools. We engage these students in our work using a service-learning model. For example, this presentation describes two service-learning projects in Costa Rica and Guatemala (as of 2011). The article “International Collaborations: Librarians Without Borders and Librii in Ghana” published in the Canadian Library Association’s Feliciter magazine also features LWB’s work in Ghana in-depth, including the role of student team members. Working with SJSU students is a great fit for the nature of our organization.










Toronto Highschool Students Support Guatemalan Library

The wonderful philanthropists at William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute’s Humanitarian Club — known as The World at Large — in Toronto, Ontario logo3

chose to support LWB’s work in Guatemala this year. Below their Co-Presidents write about their support. We thank them for their endorsement and for the funds they are donating to LWB! We are thankful the world has young people like you in it (it bodes well for us all).


Dear Librarians Without Borders,

The World At Large (WAL) Humanitarian Club at William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Ontario, has dedicated its efforts to
educating our community about important local and global issues. For the past several years, we have focused our attention on fundraising and raising awareness about the importance of literacy and education in developing countries. We are honoured to be a part of Librarian Without
Border’s initiative in Guatemala to build a community library and are very excited to be able to donate to such a great cause. On behalf of the entire WAL club, we hope that even the smallest contribution will benefit those in need in the biggest way.

Tharani Anpalagan and Isis So
Co-Presidents of World At Large (2013-2014)


WAL club photo

World at Large Humanitarian Club, Toronto, ON


Meet (and hear) the 2014 Guatemala Team!

Over the past week, our intrepid travelers have been writing, sending photos and sharing blogs. Now it’s time to meet the 2014 team. Instead of traditional biographies, this year’s team decided to do something a little bit different. Not only did they create their own mini bios, they recorded them. Click on the link below each photo to hear a personal introduction from each of our team members.


Alex Cuadrado – Spain


Cate Carlyle – Halifax, Canada


Christina Wilson – Toronto, Canada


Cynthia Palacios – Los Angeles, United States of America


Dee Winn – Vancouver, Canada


Edie Daniel – Oklahoma City, United States of America


Jaq-Lin Larder – Halifax, Canada


Jorge Rivera – Toronto, Canada


Kathryn Darnall – Austin, United Stated of America


Mairead Mooney – Cork, Ireland


Rachel MacDonald – Seattle, United States of America


Sarah Dahlen – Seaside, United States of America

Farewell Asturias Academy, Hello Limitless Horizons Ixil!

After a whirlwind week helping out the wonderful kids at Asturias Academy, it’s time to move onto the next leg of our trip. We’d like to thank the amazing staff at Asturias, especially Mr. Jorge Chojolan, the school’s head administrator. Here’s a few mini retrospectives of our past week.

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Check it Out: Book Lending in Guatemala

By Cynthia Palacios

Today was an important day for the 6th graders at the Asturias Academy. Volunteer Cynthia Palacios discussed with students the characteristics of lending libraries and how their library would start lending them books. Students participated in a demonstration of how to browse, select and check out a library book. In addition students also learned about proper maintenance of the books. Asturias Academy has a small collection compared to North American libraries, and reading books for pleasure in Guatemala is rare, making this initial lending event all the more significant. Students learned how to take care of the books, as damaged or lost books will be nearly impossible to replace. There was excitement in the air as students selected and checked out their books.

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First Impressions: Day One at Asturias

By Cate Carlyle

My first impression of Xela was that of a bustling community full of storefronts, children playing in the streets, dogs wandering aimlessly and bicycle vendors selling fresh fruit. Walking to the Asturias Academy to meet the director, Jorge, for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. Once inside, I was enthralled with the school he has created in response to the poverty, violence and inequality plaguing his homeland. The Miguel Angel Asturias Library, and its wonderful librarian, Dorita, are supported by Librarians Without Borders and provide a wealth of resources for these kids who need it most. In a country where children may read one book a year at most, the Asturias students are reading five or six books a year. I am so honoured to be a part of this incredible journey.

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My Thoughts on Library Day

by Rachel McDonald

The programming team has put our collective experience and knowledge together to come up with a fantastic slate of programs for the students at Miguel Angel Asturias Academy. Students in 4th – 8th grades participated in a comic jam, inspired by the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, which is very popular here. Students were given comic templates with several prompts and asked to illustrate what they liked about the library. Each student had 2 minutes to fill in a panel on a comic before passing it to the next student.

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As much as we loved our time in Xela (Quetzaltanango), we’re very excited to be heading to a new library in the mountain town of Chajul. We’ll spend the next few days with our new friends and partners Limitless Horizons Ixil. Check back soon for updates on the second leg of our trip!

Library Day At The Asturias Academy

by Jorge Rivera and Rachel MacDonald

The programming team has put our collective experience and knowledge together to come up with a playful slate of programs for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12 at Miguel Angel Asturias Academy. We served more than 200 students and delivered over 16 programs. It was surely an eventful day!

Library Day at Asturias Academy, programming for Kindergarten to Grade 3:

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Getting ready for Library Day

Boys and girls from Kindergarten to Grade 3 were treated to a live puppet show of an adapted version the Three Little Pigs called The Three Little Pigs at the Library. This show featured some not-so-average pigs that stopped the Big Bad Wolf from feasting on them. It was the pigs’ insistent refusal, “no te acerquas ni un pelo,” the wolf’s persistence and the harmonious ending that had students laughing and yelling out words scene-by-scene. Underneath all the comedy and animation were important messages. The show demonstrated that knowledge is power and that knowledge is gained from reading. It was the acquisition of a book that helped Pig 3 build a library strong enough to keep the wolf away, spacious enough to host his refugee brothers, and resourceful enough to convert the wolf into a being a vegetarian friend.

This same group of children were also invited to a build a pig or wolf puppet. Each student got to choose their preferred puppet and were assisted by LWB volunteers. It was a pleasure to see students creating their own wolf and pig voices with each other as they acted out the roles of The Three Little Pigs. We brought a puppet stage with us which will stay at Asturias to encourage further storytelling and encouraged children to look at their own copies of Los Tres Cerditos and use their their new puppets. Thanks to all volunteers and Asturias staff for making this program possible!

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Jorge Rivera: Master of Puppets

Library Day at Asturias Academy, programming for Grade 4-8:

Game on! Students in classes from grade 4 to 8 participate in a healthy competition that quizzed them on their knowledge on the library, on Guatemala and the school’s theme of the month, ecology. In consultation with Asturias staff, a series of true and false questions were asked. Now here is the twist, students had to express their answers by tippy-toeing (true), crouching down (false) and standing Normal (pass). We witnessed groups of students debating the correct answer with their group members, being taken by surprise at some of the answers, and feeling a sense of pride when they tippy-toed to the finish line.

Students were also getting artsy with a participatory Comic Jam, inspired by the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, which is very popular here. Students were given comic templates with several prompts and asked to illustrate what they liked about the library. Each student had approximately 2 minutes to fill a panel on their comic before passing it to the next student. The students answered questions about why they liked to visit the library, what type of books they hoped to find there, and how they felt when they read a good book. The time constraints meant that students didn’t have much time to draw elaborate pictures, but also removed any sense of intimidation for students who don’t consider themselves artists. Having the students pass their comics around the table emphasized that the library is a communal space where everyone is welcome.

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Cynthia and Sarah, speaking to a group of attentive students.

Library Day at Asturias Academy, programming for Grade 9-12:

Since April is Poetry Month, students in high school were given two poem templates to complete. The first poem enabled students to share their knowledge of literary personages; students chose to describe a variety of characters, including Greg from Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Count Olaf from a A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lucy and Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia, and Harry Potter. The second poem that students wrote was an autobiographical poem called “I am.” Using a template, students wrote about their likes and dislikes, their hopes and fears. LWB volunteers took photos of their poems, which will be typed up and bound together for publication in a chapbook that will be given to the Asturias Library. This will give current and future students a sense that the library is not only a place to consume content, but also a place to create.

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Words to live by

Library Services Centre Supports Literacy Work in Guatemala

This year, Librarians Without Borders welcomes Library Services Centre (LSC) as our premiere sponsor of the 2014 service trip to Guatemala.LSC_logo_full (1)

Formed in 1967 as a not-for-profit organization, LSC is one of Canada’s largest providers of bibliographic material to libraries. Libraries may acquire the material “as is” or processed. Nationally, LSC would rank in the top 5 book wholesalers to libraries, and would number 1 or 2 as a supplier to public libraries. In total, LSC serves more than 200 institutions.

For more information, visit: Library Services Centre online.

Thank you LSC for your commitment to libraries and literacy!



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