By Erica Younglove
Two librarians from Limitless Horizons Ixil in Chajul, Guatemala visited Asturius this week. David and his coworker Marina came to the Teacher Training at Asturias on Monday and helped us prep for Library Day on Tuesday. David took the time to talk to me about his library and position. Here’s what he said:
Q: David, tell me about the library.
A: It works almost the same as here at Asturias but with different activities with the kids. The library originally was part of the school and just for older students. It is now a public library. It serves the whole community – children, teachers, teens, adults.
Q: How long has the library been open?
A: It has been operating as a public library for six years.
Q: How does the library support itself?
A: The community is very poor and doesn’t have a lot of resources. We rely on donations and foreign aid. For example, we provide craft supplies for kids who can’t afford them. Most of those supplies are donated.
Q: What programs does the library provide?
A: Librarians help students with homework, provide one on one tutoring, hold storytimes every Wednesday, and host a reading club. A lot of children speak the indigenous language Ixil not Spanish. So we are helping them learn Spanish and Spanish reading skills. We are helping them form the habit of reading.
Q: How many books do you have?
A: We have 4500 titles but with copies we have 8000 books that circulate.
Q: How many people do you serve?
Q: How many people use the library?
A: We have 80-100 kids come into the library everyday. Children like to do their homework at the library because most of them have dirt floors at home. They want to keep their work nice so they do it at the library.
Q: What are your hours?
A: We work 8-5 Monday through Friday. The library is open from 8-11am and 2-4:30pm each day.
Q: Do you have computers?
A: We have two computers but they don’t have Internet. They are only for looking up books in the library.
Q: How does lending work?
A: We mainly lend to students we work with regularly. Patrons that don’t come in frequently we don’t lend to.
Q: Do you have library cards?
A: Yes we do.
Q: Do you have materials in the local language?
Q: What does your job entail?
A: We help kids, plan activities, and organize materials.
Q: How big is your staff?
A: We just have the two librarians and two volunteers.
Marina, LWB team member Cat Silvers, David.
Q: How long have you been in your position?
A: This is my third year.
Q: What qualified you for the job?
A: I have a teaching certificate and previously worked as a teacher.
Q: What training do you do?
A: This training and others from LWB and the group Child-Aid. And I go to school. Currently I’m studying agriculture at the university. Once I get my degree I hope to help the community improve their farming practice and take advantage of our fertile soil. Right now they only grow corn and beans. I plan to encourage them to plant other things to help improve their diet.
Q: When will you get your degree?
A: I have two or three more years. It is a five year program.
Q: What do you like best about your job?
A: I have a passion for helping kids especially when doing so improves the community. If you start with the young ones they are the ones that will grow up and make the change in the community. I am very thankful for my job. I appreciate LWB coming to help me improve our library and community.
This interview was conducted with the translation assistance of Georgi Bordner.