On November 9-10, BiblioWorks hosted the first-ever “National Conference for Organizations Working to Build Libraries” in Bolivia, a 2-day event with over 40 participants, which was held in Sucre.
The purpose of the event was to bring together, for the first time in Bolivia, organizations that are working in library projects and literacy initiatives, in a 2-day intensive workshop, with the three primary objectives being:
1. To conduct a census of all the organizations working in the building of innovative and virtual community libraries in Bolivia.
2. To take a census of library resources in the 28 Municipalities of the Department of Chuquisaca.
3. To work in small groups to design a model, sustainable library.
With representatives from over 25 national organizations and 15 local government officials, the Conference brought together organizations supporting projects wtih those on the local level seeking aid for their library projects. Special guests included the Governor’s Office of Chuquisaca, the Ministry of Education, the National Library Association of Bolivia (Banco del Libro), local Universities, and Peace Corps staff and volunteers.
In this 2-day workshop, we acheived our three objectives. We now have an inventory of all the organizations working in some way to build and support libraries in Bolivia, as well as an analysis of the current state of libraries in Chuquisaca. The biggest outcome of the event, though, was the group work in designing a model, sustainable library. Aspects taken into account were who would run the library, who pays the electricity, how we train community leaders, what kinds of activities a model library should have and who is responsible for those activities, but most importantly – how we can design a model library that ensures that it will still be functioning for years and years to come.
The groupwork was the most rewarding part of the Conference. Representatives from NGOs (non-governmental organizations) worked directly with local government officials from small communities. In this way, we were able to ensure that our model library would be something useful and applicable to the reality and needs of small communities in Chuquisaca and all of Bolivia.
The results of the Conference have been compiled into a 50-page document in Spanish and has been distributed to all workshop participants. We have also made this document public and available to all interested, in hopes that our findings can be used to further develop adequate and sustainable library projects and literacy initiatives in Bolivia.