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.

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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.

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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.

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