It has been said that our world is getting smaller every day, and after representing ALA in several foreign countries this past year I have found that statement to be true. I live in a city located on the U.S.-Mexico border, where it is often difficult to determine where Mexico ends and the United States begins. Both sides of the border share the same culture, languages, environment, familia, and food--including the best enchiladas in the world. I have found it strange to travel hundreds of miles by air to some remote part of Mexico only to return home--to Mexico, right across the Rio Grande River.
Some believe that members of our Association are not interested in international relations. Yet as I travel across our nation speaking about my dream of a global library-advocacy effort, I find that this is not the case. After returning from a recent visit to El Salvador and Guatemala, my own El Paso (Tex.) Public Library board listened spellbound as I described the tiny library we visited outside of Antigua Guatemala with its three computers in the back (one for Internet access), threadbare furniture, sparse collections, and children studying so earnestly at the few tables available that they didn't even notice my husband taking their pictures.
You can do it!
As the first ALA president to make an official visit to El Salvador and Guatemala, I spoke to hundreds of librarians, educators, government officials, and others about the importance of libraries--and particularly the importance of being library advocates. "!Si, se puede!" (You can do it!) became the slogan of my visits as we explored the concepts outlined in the Library Advocates Handbook--now translated into Spanish. In these two countries where public and school libraries as we know them are almost nonexistent, there is much work to do to bring …