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!

Guatemala Trip Information Meeting: February 9 Online

GT Info Meeting Blog Join Librarians Without Borders on Tuesday, February 9 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!

LWB will be in Guatemala from April 22-May 2, 2016 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 23.

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: 624 005 092
Meeting password: LWB2016
Join by phone
1-650-479-3208 Call-in toll number (US/Canada)
Access code: 624 005 092


Thank you for a great year!

Thank you for making 2015 such a great year! It was our tenth anniversary, and we accomplished a lot thanks to you – and all of our supporters and members!

This was our fifth year partnering with the Asturias Academy in Guatemala. During this year’s service trip, we taught the students all about the library with an action-packed Library Day, brought books and catalogued materials in the library, and introduced new professional development for teachers.

Jasmin, one of this year’s trip participants, speaks about what she took away from the trip:

We also began a new partnership with Limitless Horizons Ixil in Chajul, Guatemala, and helped automate some of their work in order to free up the librarians for more individual support of community members.

We’re looking forward to making 2016 one of our best years yet! Thank you from all of us here at LWB.

Click here for donation information and options.

Want to let the world know you support Librarians Without Borders?
You can also wear your support with merchandise from our Skreened store.

Libraries in Xela, Guatemala

By Kerry Purvis, LWB Service Trip Participant

This year’s LWB service trip participants had the chance to visit three different libraries in Quetzaltenango (or Xela), Guatemala. The majority of the trip was spent at the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy school library, and there were also short visits to the library of the Bank of Guatemala, and the Quetzaltenango Public Library run by the municipal government.


The Miguel Angel Asturias Academy school library is very similiar to school libraries seen in Canada and the United States. It is located in the school and serves students from pre-kindergarten to high school, and their teachers as well. The collections includes fiction and nonfiction titles, mostly in Spanish with some in Kiché or English, and they are separated by reading level. Students cannot check out books yet, unless they need them overnight for an assignment, but the library is working to create a checkout system for students. This makes the library very unique because most Guatemalan libraries do not have circulating collections. The library is very cozy and includes tables and floor cushions where students can read. Each classroom visits the library once a week. Students check out books and have story time with Dorita the librarian or with their teacher if Dorita is helping a student find books. Some students also spend extra time in the library to work on their reading with Dorita. Both students and teachers enjoy the library and love visiting it every week.


The library of the bank of Guatemala is located next to the bank in the Quetzaltenango town square. Upon arrival the librarian greeted the trip participants and shared some details about the bank. It is open the same hours as the bank and is mostly used by adults. Many of the patrons are students or business people using the library. Some patrons use materials from the collection while others use the space to study with materials they bring from outside the library. The library’s collection is closed stacks. Patrons ask for materials and the librarian locates them and brings them to the patrons. Materials do not circulate. Only the librarian can take books off the shelves. The library does include a card catalog that patrons can use to look up titles. During our visit we saw many patrons working quietly at tables and patrons asking the librarian questions.


The public library is also located near the town square. When we arrived one of the librarians greeted us and took us on a tour of the library. She showed us the different locations of the collection. The building used to be a jail and much of the collection is kept where the jail cells existed. Each cell area includes a different section of the collection. The books are kept behind a gate and only librarians take them out of the cell. If a patron wants a book there is a list of titles they can look over, then they go to the librarian’s desk to request the book they want. Patrons then can use the books in the library only. The library serves both adults and children and also includes a children’s collection.

Interview: Dorita on her role at the Asturias library

by Kerry Purvis, LWB Guatemala Service Trip 2015 participant

During the Librarians Without Borders 2015 service trip I had the privilege of interviewing Dorita, the librarian at the Miguel Ángel Asturias Academy. I asked her questions about the library and its role in the school.


How long have you worked in the library?
For three years as the librarian. I worked as a teacher for four years, then I left because of an illness. In 2012 I returned to become the librarian.

Why do you think it’s important to have a library at the school?
It’s so important because it helps students with vocabulary and with reading. In this country there aren’t a lot of opportunities to have extra help with reading. Guatemalan schools have a reading curriculum but they don’t usually have libraries. Libraries offer that additional help.

Let’s talk about your role with the teachers. Do the teachers come to the library to ask you to look for books for their classes?
Yes, they come often.

Do teachers look for books on their own, or do they ask you for help?
It depends. Some ask for help, some don’t. The new teachers ask for help because using the library is new to them.

How do you communicate with teachers? Do they come to the library to speak with you?
The school staff have meetings on Monday afternoons and I recommend books to the teachers. I recommend books that follow the school’s monthly theme. Teachers also come to the library to ask me questions.

What books did you recommend this month?
This month’s theme is ecology and one of the titles I recommended was El Mago Que Salvó El Mundo (The Magician Who Saved the World).

How do you encourage teachers to use the library?
At the beginning of the year the new I do an orientation with the new teachers. One thing I do is show them how to read to their classes.

Can teachers check out books like the kids can? For how long?
Yes they can. Teachers can check books out for one week. I keep index cards with each teacher’s name, and when they want to check out a book they tell me the book’s title and I write it down on the index card. When they return the book I cross the name out on the card.


Do you read out loud to the students in the library or do the teachers?
It depends. Sometimes I do, sometimes they do. Sometimes teachers read to their classes if I am helping a child. Teachers stay with their class when they come to the library so I can help children who want to find books.

What’s your favorite thing about working at the library?
I like working with the kids, especially helping those who haven’t been to school yet or who can’t write. For instance, I work with one student one-on-one once a week for an hour and we play games to help him with his reading. Sometimes he comes more than once a week if he needs more help.

Collection Development at the Asturias Academy


By Kerry Purvis

The 2015 Librarians Without Borders Collection Development team did some great work at the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy this year! This year the project focused on cataloging newly purchased books, reclassifying teacher resource materials, and mending damaged books. All five team members received training on the cataloging system prior to the trip and put the training to use on site.

Before arriving at the Asturias Academy the team stopped by the Piedra Santa publishing company in Guatemala City where they purchased 19 books to add to the library’s collection, and where trip participants purchased additional books individually to donate. The team added a total of 56 new books to the collection.

The team was responsible for classifying the books, adding a call number and adding stickers to the books to explain their reading level and genre. They referred to a Spanish Dewey list when adding call numbers. The school’s books are cataloged by Dewey subjects only and they do not go past the decimal point. After assigning a call number they began by dividing the books into three reading levels, beginner, intermediate, and advanced.The team then selected the genre of the book, assigned the book a reading level, and added color-coded labels. Once the book had a call number and its labels the team then referred the school’s master inventory of 4,851 items to see if there was already a copy of the book in the collection. The school’s librarian Dorita maintains the entire catalog in an Excel spreadsheet. Following that the team then wrote on the back of the cover the reading level (P, I, A), call number, first three letters of the author or editor, and copy number if there was more than one copy.

The team took on several side projects as well. Some of the books were translated into Spanish to make them bilingual books. These were pictures books that had plenty of space to add additional English text. The team also reclassified teacher resource materials, which had been in a separate category. The category was eliminated and and reclassified as advanced books.

A future goal of the collection development team is to help the library create a collection development policy.

Click below to see Alexandra Ferguson talks about Asturias Collection Development



Library Day at Asturias Academy

IMG_9511The Librarians Without Borders team finished up two days full of mermaids, ninjas, constellations and global exploration! The theme for this years Library Day was Discovering Dewey. In this two day program the children were introduced to three subjects of the Dewey Decimal system through educational activities and fun crafts. This year was the third Library Day program for LWB and it has functioned as a way to instill a sense of fun into learning. The Library Day team aimed to introduce students to a common classification system as well as spark their interest in discovering more subjects in their own library.

The youngest children participated in three interactive stations – 500s Astronomy and Constellations, 300s Ninjas and Fairytales and the 900s Geography, while the oldest children participated in a creative story and puppet theatre activity The students were able to interact with the LWB team to learn about different constellations and their stories, how to locate fairytales in their library and also different cultures in the world. The students were able to discover the Dewey Decimal System on a small scale and we hope that this connected their interests in exploring their library for more subjects.

IMG_9518500s Astronomy and Constellations

At this station students learned about what astronomy entails by focusing on the solar system. Students used books from each planet to place themselves in the correct order around the sun and then shared something about each planet from their books. After this the students learned about different constellations and the stories that go along with them. Lastly for their craft they created their own telescope using printed out constellations attached to the end.

IMG_9281300s Ninjas and Fairytales

This station introduced the 300s by focusing on fairytales and ninjas. The students talked about different classic fairytales they may have known and then created clothespin mermaids and pipe cleaner ninjas.

IMG_9558900s Geography

For the geography station students were able to learn about different countries and choose different places they would like to visit and why. In this station they began by looking through various continent books and travel magazines to discover and learn about different cultures around the world. Once students were interested in a destination they used stickers, cutouts and flags to paste onto a giant map. After two days the map was a beautiful sight of future places and destinations the students wanted to visit someday.

IMG_9556Mad-Libs and Puppet Theatre

The oldest students created a fairytale through a fill-in-the-blank activity choosing various parts of speech. After they completed their story they created cut out characters to re-enact their story through a shadow puppet theatre. The youngest children were even able to enjoy this performance

Guatemala Traveler Bios!

IMG_9016Xenia Kourgouzova
Information & Knowledge Manager
Lausanne, Switzerland
Trip Co-Lead, Professional Development Team Lead

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I’m a graduate of the McGill University School of Information Studies in Montreal,  Canada, and was the co-chair of the McGill LWB Student Committee.

Where else have you travelled?
I’ve travelled all over the world. I’ve lived in Russia,  Canada and now Switzerland.  I spent summers in Florida as a child. I haven’t been to South America or Australia yet!

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I went on the service trip in 2012. I made great friends on that trip and stayed in touch with them. I always wanted to come back because somehow I felt that I wasn’t done with Guatemala after the first trip. I can actually see a big change between three years ago and now. The country’s developing and the library grew as well – at least 50% since the last time I was here.  Dorita [Asturias librarian] has taken on a strong role in the library as well, and just by looking around the library you can see that it’s being used to discuss important topics and themes.

Alexandra FergusonAlexandra Ferguson
Collection Development
Edmundston, New Brunswick
Trip Co-Lead

Where do you work?
Haut-St.-Jean Library Region, Regional Office

Where have you traveled?
I’ve traveled throughout Canada and the U.S., and England and France as a student. After my undergrad I moved to Japan to teach English for a year and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in India. Afterward I moved to South Korea for two years, traveled to Indonesia, and backpacked South America for four months visiting Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Columbia. In 2013 I visited Guatemala as a student participant in LWB’s service trip.

What is your connection to LWB?
I was originally a student member then co-chair of the LWB committee at Western University Faculty of Information and Media Studies. I heard about the project trip to Guatemala in 2012 and was very fortunate to be chosen as a trip participant in 2013.

How did you hear about the trip:
As an LWB member, I receive updates and news from the organization. I saw a posting for project lead in one of their emails and decided to apply. I had such a wonderful experience as a student participant on the 2013 service trip, so I just jumped at the opportunity to co-lead this year’s trip.

What made you want to come?
My trip in 2013 was so memorable that ever since I’ve wanted to return to the Miguel Asturias Academy. Jorge, his family, and all the staff there have done and continue to do amazing work and if I can help out in any way, I would love to be a part of it. It’s wonderful to see how much the library has grown and how well-used it’s become to students and teachers alike.

Erika HeesenErika Heesen
CEO, Perth and District Union Public Library
Perth, Ontario, Canada
Communications Team Lead

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I was one of the founding members of the University of Toronto iSchool LWB student committee in 2009. I wanted to stay involved with the work that LWB is doing, so I’ve been volunteering as Membership Director since 2011.

Where else have you traveled?
I lived in Ireland for four months and traveled throughout Europe and in Canada and the United States.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I’ve wanted to come on this trip for a few years, and this year was finally the year! I really wanted to be able to use the skills that I have to help develop the library at the Asturias Academy, and I’m also here to learn—what libraries are like in Guatemala, what the culture around books and reading looks like, and what our partner’s goals are for the future.

Elissa SperlingElissa Sperling
Library Science Student at McGill University School of Information Studies, Canada
Working at a Public Library in Montreal, Canada
Library Day Project

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
LWB was part of what attracted me to McGill, the Information Science programs in the U.S. don’t have LWB. I got involved right away as part of the LWB McGill student chapter and will be the Co-Chair next year.

Where else have you traveled?
I’ve been to over 40 countries. I’ve enjoyed many places, but my favorites so far have been Mongolia and Georgia.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
My interest in this trip is related to why I wanted to study Library Science. I want to be a librarian and work in public libraries. This trip really combines all of my interests. I love books and reading. I like to teach and I love to work with children. I like to help people and of course I love to travel.

Jasmin AvilaJasmin Avila
Library Science Student at San Jose State University, California
Working as Programming Aide at Santa Cruz Public Libraries
Santa Cruz, California
Communications Project

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I work as a Library Aide for the Santa Cruz Public Libraries in our Programs and Partnerships department. I first heard about LWB in one of my classes at SJSU because it was used as a case study while learning about global libraries.

Where else have you traveled?
I have traveled to Italy, Mexico and Canada.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I heard about the trip through my Information Science Program and wanted to come because I wanted to experience first hand how libraries function in other countries outside of the U.S. I was very inspired by the work LWB does and wanted to contribute to the documentation of the project as well as put into practice what I’ve learned in both my Information Science program and my library.

Debbie ChavezDebbie Chavez
Adult Services Librarian at Pima County Public Library
Tucson, Arizona
Library Day Project

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
At my library I work in Adult Services. I work a lot with refugees and immigrants from all around the world and I’ve also done a lot of work in Early Literacy. I had heard about LWB before and had kept up with the organization’s work.

Where else have you traveled?
I have traveled mostly in Mexico while visiting family and working with an organization that helps people from a poor neighborhood.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I heard about the trip through Facebook and I wanted to be part of the trip because I have wanted to come and do work in Guatemala since the 90’s after reading “I, Rigoberta Menchu”. This book focused the worlds attention on the horrific events and atrocities being committed against the indigenous people of Guatemala. When I saw that LWB had the opportunity to come and do good work here I knew I wanted to come.

20150427_110219Rebecca Lahr
Library Science Student at University of British Columbia
Worked at Small Business Accelerator, UBC Libraries
Vancouver,  BC, Canada
Professional Development Project

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I’m a student right now – aspiring librarian! I worked in an academic library when I was an undergrad at the University of Minnesota and I did an archiving internship at the Library of Congress.  I’ve attended a few LWB events at UBC and this has been a great opportunity to get to know LWB a little bit more and what they’re all about.

Where else have you travelled?
As an undergrad at the University of Minnesota,  my minor was in Spanish Studies and I travelled to Venezuela for about six weeks to improve those language skills. I’ve also done a lot of domestic travel in the US, particularly the Mountain West, and of course, being American, travelled to Canada for my studies.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I had heard about LWB before starting library studies. Most recently a close friend recommended I look into the trip and I decided to apply.  I think it’s very important as professionals to look at the different ways that people view libraries and the different contexts in which libraries exist.  I think that we take for granted the openness of public library systems. Being here and seeing what the libraries offer here – you understand the privilege that we have to really utilize some amazing resources in our own areas.

Natalie BaurNatalie Baur
Archivist, Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami Libraries
Miami, Florida
Professional Development Project

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I am a librarian by training. I have a degree in library science from the University of Maryland, but I specialized in archives, information and records management. I have a background in history, and I decided to go into special collections and went from there into archives. For LWB, my interest was in getting to know another sector of library work—I don’t have any experience with school libraries – and also that the project was in Guatemala.  I’m very interested in library and archives development in Latin America.

Where else have you traveled?
I lived in Ecuador for two years and travel back there frequently for both fun and work. I’ve also been to Colombia, Suriname, Aruba, Spain, Canada, and Panama.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I actually heard about the trip a few years ago through a listserv and I’ve been following the trip since then through Facebook and the website. This year I finally had a chance to apply so I’m happy to be here!

Sheila LaroqueSheila Laroque
Library Science Student at the University of Toronto, Canada
Working at Robarts at the University of Toronto, Canada
Library Day Project

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I was first year co-chair of the U of T student chapter this past year. I heard about what LWB was doing and I thought it was amazing, I really wanted to get involved.

Where else have you traveled?
I studied abroad in India and I’ve also been to Italy, Greece, New York and Hawaii.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I thought this project in and of itself was a great thing to contribute to and something that would be a new experience for me but also a space where I could reinforce and use the skills I already have.

Kerry PurvisKerry Purvis
Portland, Maine, USA
Communications Team
San José State University i-School

Where have you traveled?
USA, Canada, Spain, Honduras, and now Guatemala!

What is your connection to LWB/libraries?
I am working on my MLIS through San José State University. I recently took a course called Global Library Issues Using Project-Based Learning that specifically focused on literacy issues in the Guatemalan communities working with LWB. I also worked at Fogler Library at the University of Maine when I was getting my BA, and I volunteered with the public relations department at the Bangor Public Library in Bangor, Maine.

How did you hear about the trip?
Through an email announcement through San José State.

What made you want to come on the trip?
I went to Honduras on a University of Maine service trip seven years ago and I have been wanting to do more international service work since then. I have a BA in Spanish and I am working on an MLIS, so I was really excited to learn about a trip that involved two of my passions, the Spanish language and libraries! I am a firm believer that all people deserve access to information regardless of where they live, so I was thrilled to see an opportunity to work with an organization that is working toward that goal on a global level.

Cheryl RowanCheryl Rowan
Collection Development
Kingwood (Greater Houston), Texas, USA

Where have you traveled?
USA, Mexico, Canada, Guatemala, Belize, Jamaica, Grand Cayman Island

Where do you Work?
Most recently, I held two positions with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, South Central Region as the Consumer Health Coordinator and Public Health Coordinator. In those positions, I promoted resources and services throughout the states of Arizona, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas. For the past three months I have been working as a “freelance” medical librarian, providing health information resources to a wide variety of audiences. I have very recently been appointed to a three-year position as the Editor for MLA News.

What is your connection to LWB/libraries?
Prior to this trip, I had no connection with LWB. I have worked in public, K-12 school, and medical sciences libraries.

How did you hear about the trip?

I received the announcement from a colleague who knew about my previous connections to Guatemala and thought I might be interested.

What made you want to come on the trip?
I have been to Guatemala many times with the organization CEDEPCA (the Protestant Center for Pastoral Studies in Central America) centered in Guatemala City and wanted to expand the scope of my experience in Guatemala. Whenever I spend time in Guatemala I learn new things about the country, its culture, and the issues facing the people here.

Madiha ChoksiMadiha Choksi
Collection Development
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
University of Toronto

Where have you traveled?
Canada, US, Mexico, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jamaica, Spain and France

What is your connection to LWB?
I joined the LWB group at the University of Toronto iSchool.

How did you hear about the trip?
In an email from the LWB chapter at University of Toronto

What made you want to come on the trip?
I think what drew me to the trip was the opportunity to use what I am learning in class about collection development and cataloging to help out a library that could use the help for free. I knew it would be very fulfilling and rewarding to see my work make a difference.

Angela KwokAngela Kwok
Library Science Student at the University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada
Collection Development Team

What’s your connection to LWB and/or libraries?
I serve as the chair of the LWB student chapter at the University of Western Ontario; this will be my third term with LWB. I also volunteer at the archives of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in London, Ontario.

Where have you traveled?
Aside from Canada I have lived in France and Japan. I’ve also traveled to Eastern Canada, United States, Mexico, Poland, Switzerland, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, and now Guatemala.

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
I first heard about the trip at the student orientation at the University of Western Ontario in September, and then again on Facebook when LWB was looking for volunteers. What drew me to LWB was its mission of providing people access to information regardless of their region, gender, religion, etc. I thought I could help make a positive impact on communities with information needs. I think it’s extremely important for us as librarians to be aware and get involved in international librarianship in order to build stronger communities.

Carlos TorresCarlos Torres
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Collection Development Team
Algonquin College

Where have you traveled?
US, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Morocco, Mexico, Europe

What is your connection to libraries/LWB?
I studied library studies at Algonquin College

How did you hear about the trip?
A friend of mine from college told me about it. He went on the trip two years ago.

What made you want to come on the trip?
I wanted to help others in doing what I love to do. I have Latin American roots so it is a good match. It is also good to go to new countries and understand new cultures.

Stephanie AndersonStephanie Anderson
Library Science Student, University of Arizona
Library Assistant, Salt Lake County Library
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Professional Development Team

What is your connection to libraries and/or LWB?
I currently work as a library assistant managing a small outreach branch. We take the discards from the library system and I sort them, etc, and then I give a free book to every child who visits to encourage literacy in the home. I also do outreach to hospitals, homeless shelters, refugee centers, and a shelter for abused or neglected children. So I do a lot of outreach with high-risk and low-income families.

Where else have you travelled?
I’ve been to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, and now Guatemala!

How did you hear about the Guatemala trip and what made you want to come?
It was an email from my university, and I’d been looking to do some sort of study abroad because I love travelling and working in developing countries. I’d never been to Guatemala, and I was very interested in learning more about how libraries worked here, so I was really excited when I came across this!


LWB Heads to Guatemala for Fifth Consecutive Year



Librarians Without Borders Works to Create a Reading Culture in Guatemala

April 24, 2015


Librarians Without Borders (LWB) members from across North America will be traveling to the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy in Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala from April 24-May 4 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 fifth year traveling to Guatemala, LWB plans to continue work with the Academy to help cultivate a reading culture and to 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 (cataloguing, processing, and organizing materials) and information literacy/outreach programming for students and teachers.

“In addition to our regular work, we will be providing a Professional Development Day for the teachers of the Academy for the first time”, said Gelsomino. “We will be providing training for the teachers on how they can use the resources of the library and integrate those resources into the classroom”.

About Librarians Without Borders 

Librarians Without Borders (LWB) is an action-oriented non-profit organization that strives to narrow information access inequities worldwide by supporting libraries in developing regions and domestic communities.

We enact our mission by collaborating with partner communities to identify their needs and then mobilize our volunteers – the core being student librarians in a service-learning model – for in-the-field development. We believe that access to information is vital in supporting learning and literacy, reducing poverty, empowering citizens, and building healthy, strong communities.

This year, LWB welcomes TinLids as our premiere sponsor of the 2015 service trip to Guatemala.

tinlids logo

Tinlids Inc. is a Canadian wholesaler of books for children and teens serving schools and public libraries across the country. Their love of literature for young people shines through in all the work they do, as they help teachers and librarians select the best books and build great collections. Tinlids is owned and operated by Maria Martella, a veteran of the children’s book industry for more than twenty-five years. For more information please visit

Thank you TinLids for your commitment to libraries and literacy!

For more information:

Mark Gelsomino, Co-Executive Director,

Melanie Sellar, Co-Executive Director,


Convocatoria de voluntarios: Viaje solidario a Guatemala 2015



Reserva tu plaza.

Bibliotecarios sin fronteras

Descripción del viaje solidario


2015 es un año especial para nosotros no solo porque es el 10º aniversario de LWB, sino porque también es el 5º aniversario de nuestro viaje solidario anual a Guatemala. Cada primavera viajamos al Colegio Miguel Ángel Asturias in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, donde llevamos a cabo nuestros proyectos sobre el terreno, discutimos sobre las necesidades de nuestros colaboradores locales y nos reencontramos con los estudiantes y trabajadores de la escuela. Este año 2015 iremos del 24 de abril al 4 de mayo, y te invitamos a que te vengas y colabores con nosotros.


En esta ocasión el trabajo en el colegio incluirá actividades relacionadas con la gestión de la colección de la biblioteca (catalogación, procesado y organización de la colección), y programas de formación y dinamización de la biblioteca para estudiantes y profesores. LWB también trabaja con Asturias para ofrecer a los voluntarios diferentes actividades culturales que les ayudarán a comprender mejor las bibliotecas, la educación y cultura guatemalteca. Normalmente los voluntarios pueden tomar parte en las actividades del último fin de semana (por ejemplo, visitar el pintoresco Lago Atitlán o hacer una caminata a alguno de los picos volcánicos de Guatemala).


Proyectos principales


Apoyo continuado a la gestión de la colección, especialmente a la implementación del SIGB y a la mejora del sistema de préstamo.

Promoción del uso de la biblioteca y su integración con el curriculum del colegio a través de actividades de fomento de la lectura y dinamización de la biblioteca en colaboración con los trabajadores del colegio.


Alojamiento y comida


Durante la estancia en Quetzaltenango (Xela), los voluntarios se alojarán y comerán en COFA (Centro de Orientación Familiar Católico). Los fines de semana las comidas se harán con familia locales o restaurantes de la zona. Habrá opciones para vegetarianos.




Se espera de todos los voluntarios:


Asistir a las reuniones online (3-4) para hablar de los proyectos y recibir formación sobre el Colegio Asturias y sobre el contexto local. Estas reuniones son obligatorias para todos los voluntarios.

Participar y contribuir en alguno de los grupos de trabajo antes del viaje.

Participar en las evaluaciones que se harán antes y después del viaje (i.e. encuestas de evaluación).




El coste del programa son $1300 CAD* por los 11 días del viaje. Este precio incluye el alojamiento, la comida, el transporte dentro de Guatemala y la entrada a todas las actividades. Además dentro del precio se incluye una donación solidaria para apoyar los proyectos de LWB. Los participantes son responsables de pagar el vuelo de ida y vuelta a Guatemala no incluido en el precio.


Dentro de estas tasas se incluye un depósito de $300 CAD no reembolsable que deberá de ser abonado por todos los voluntarios que han sido aceptados antes del 22 de febrero. El resto del pago ($1000 CAD) puede pagarse junto con el depósito o antes del 3 de marzo.


Además, se recomienda que los voluntarios traigan dinero extra para posibles compras ocasionales como recuerdos, snacks, comidas extras en Guatemala, etc. (entre $50 y $100 sería suficiente pero esto queda a juicio del voluntario).


Fechas importantes


Reunión para informar sobre el viaje de Guatemala (online) – se anunciará pronto (a principios de febrero)

Fecha límite para inscribirse – 18 de febrero

Notificación a los voluntarios aceptados – 22 de febrero

Fecha límite para ingresar el depósito de $300 CAD no reembolsables – 27 de febrero

Fecha límite para ingresar el resto del dinero ($1000 CAD) – 3 de marzo


*Nota: El precio total de $1300 CAD podría variar si hubiera un cambio significativo en el tipo de cambio entre monedas. De ser así, esta información se notificaría antes del 27 de febrero.


Cómo inscribirse: mándanos una solicitud completa a antes del 18 de febrero. Muchas gracias!



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