International Partnerships: Books and Librarians

American Libraries, February 1998 | Go to article overview
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International Partnerships: Books and Librarians

Last year for the first time, ALA engaged in two international partnerships to organize delegations to book fairs.

In August a small group participated in the Zimbabwe International Book Fair, which is held annually in Harare (AL, Oct. 1997, p. 30). In December over 130 ALA members went to Mexico for the 11th Guadalajara Book Fair (AL, Jan., p. 44-46).

Librarians representing all types of libraries participated in these two book fairs. They ordered books, told stories at writers' workshops, presented papers at seminars, staffed the ALA exhibit booth, enjoyed cultural events, learned about publishing and libraries in Africa and Latin America, were interviewed by local media, visited libraries, and talked with colleagues from other countries.

Both these book fairs were open to children and the general public to promote reading and education. What a great idea!

Being the learner

Often when we think about international partnerships, we assume that we are doing the sharing and teaching. The Guadalajara and Zimbabwe book fairs are excellent examples of how we did most of the learning from these partnerships.

"Libraries" was the theme for the 1997 Zimbabwe fair. The result was a plethora of fascinating and varied events covering a broad spectrum of librarians' interests. Some 25 African countries were represented by the exhibitors, making it the largest single gathering of African publishers in the world. Programs on access to information, sharing resources among nongovernmental organization libraries, the role of library associations in building professional networks, and transforming Africa through writing provided opportunities for substantive dialogue with colleagues. "Children" will be the theme for the 1998 Zimbabwe fair.

The spotlight was on Argentina this year at the Guadalajara fair. A large exhibit focused on Argentinean books and cultural programs including movies, photography, dance (the tango and ballet), poets, novels, theater, music, and other literary genres.

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International Partnerships: Books and Librarians


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