After the big Library Conference hosted by BiblioWorks in November of 2006, a Department-Level Library Committee (Comité Departamental de Bibliotecas Chuquisaca) was formed with 9 different organizations. The formation of this Committee has been strongly backed by the Chuquisaca Governor’s office and is designed to promote literacy and collaboratively build libraries in the Department of Chuquisaca.
The nine participating organizations are: the Chuquisaca Governor’s office, the Sucre Mayor’s office, the Teachers’ University, the State University (San Francisco Xavier Chuquisaca), AMDECH (Association of Municipalities Chuquisaca) and four NGOs (BiblioWorks, Pachamama, AYNI Bolivia, and Friends of the City).
These organizations have now signed an inter-institutional contract, the objective being “to develop strategies and activities in the framework of local and departmental politics that strengthen the education and culture of the citizens of the Department of Chuquisaca, using the documental and human resources of the libraries of each organization in the Committee”. Each organization has specific commitments in the contract, for example BiblioWorks will be coordinating between all of the members of the Committee and providing specific information about other contacts that can support our efforts as a Committee. Recently signed March 16th, this contract is only the first step; the Committee still needs to design their bylaws and specific objectives and goals.
In Bolivia, there is not very much emphasis on the importance of libraries and the value of reading, especially in the rural area. As observed in the Library Conference in November, there are many organizations that are working in some way to improve education and the library system, but each organization is working individually. It was decided in the Library Conference that we could have a larger impact working together as a Committee, with each organization contributing in their way to the greater work that will be accomplished collectively.
Although recently formed, the Committee has already hosted their first event in commemoration of International Book Day, which was the 23rd of April. Since each organization had their individual events for that specific day, the Committee decided to host the “1st Literacy Fair and Book Exposition” the 25th of April, Wednesday. The event was organized by the Committee and each member had a task in making the fair happen. The Governor’s office provided a banner for the street and snacks for the book expositors. The Mayor’s office provided the sound system and stage. The State University provided 16 stands for the Book exposition.
From 9 to 4 p.m., the stands were open to the public, displaying the books from all the libraries in Sucre so that the public could become aware of the library resources available in their city. Also, throughout the day there were a variety of activities available to the public and to students that visited from local elementary and high schools. The Teacher’s University did a puppet show that used mathematics and science as the subject of their show. AYNI Bolivia brought a variety of dynamic and educational toys and games. In one game, two groups raced on wooden skis to a board on the other end of the street where they then had to beat the other team by correctly choosing titles of Bolivian books and placing them on the board. Also, two students from a local high school read books in front of the large crowd of children and teachers. BiblioWorks participated in this event by handing out crayons and notebooks to those that participated in these activities.
Before the Book and Literacy Fair, a lot of publicity was generated. On the Monday and Tuesday before the event, Committee members were on TV channels and radio stations promoting the fair and talking about the newly formed Library Committee. Also on the day of the event the press was present to interview Committee members and hear the Mayor of Sucre talk about the importance of reading as a healthy, educational activity.
As its second activity, the Department-Level Library Committee is planning on beginning a radio program that will be emitted by the Chuquisaca Governor’s office that will reach the entire Department of Chuquisaca. The radio spots will be short skits that are humorous, but at the same time they will hit on the importance of literacy and developing a habit of reading and how for the most part that responsibility falls on the parents as motivators of literacy.