On March 22, 2006 the library in the Patacón High School was officially inaugurated.
Events started at 9:30 am with the national anthem of Bolivia being sung by over 250 students and guests. Following that, speeches were given by the Director of the High School, Mery Calizaya, the District School Director, Ana Maria Quinteros, Peace Corps volunteer, Heather Hatfield and Peace Corps tech-specialist, Tom Boutureira, and by local BiblioWorks Latin America Project Coordinator, Megan Sherar.
Throughout the act, the students stood at attention, listening to the words of encouragement and advice from the representative guests. Towards the end, one selected student from the senior class also gave their words of thank-you: thank-you for the collaboration of all of the people who had made their library possible.
The event was also enlivened by the students’ dances in their colorful costumes and as always – the short, comical skit that leaves the students rolling with laughter.
The end of the act was the cutting of the ribbon by Megan of BiblioWorks and Heather, PC volunteer; at the same time revealing the dedication plaque and christening the new library space with a bottle of champagne. Champagne and words were also shared and exchanged among the teachers and the guests from the School District and local Peace Corps office.
As the students began to pour into their new library space, it became quickly apparent the excitement of the students as they browsed the shelves, pulling down books to sit at the tables and read. Others crowded around the two computers – opening word documents, drawing applications, and some even jumping right into Power Point! In the end, it was hard to ask the students to leave the space, but there was still more. who wanted to share. We passed out soda and salteñas (local pastry with chicken/beef) to the students and the sound system was set up to play that ever-present beat of cumbia music. And everyone danced.
The library contains about 500 books, two computers, tables, and chairs donated by BiblioWorks. The local mayor’s office donated two computer desks and helped with the transport. The school finished all of the detail work on the space, and built their own bookshelves. The library is functioning on a request basis. As teachers and students want to use the space and/or need materials and books, they ask the library to be opened by the school director. Sometimes the books are carried to their classrooms and used in groups. Other times the library is opened in the afternoons for the students to come and do their homework assignments. Classes are also taken to the space to watch a variety of educational videos on the tv-dvd player.
There is, as always, more work to be done. A library is never completed in one easy step. This library is now a responsibility for a lifetime – a collaborated responsibility on the part of BiblioWorks, the mayors’ office, and the high school students and teachers.