UWinnipeg Librarian Puts Books In The Hands Of Guatemalan Children

IanFraser copyPhoto:  Ian Fraser

WINNIPEG, MB – Elementary school students in Guatemala will be able to borrow books from the library for the first time, thanks to the work of Canadian librarians including The University of Winnipeg’s Ian Fraser, Head of Library Instruction and Data Services.

Librarians Without Borders members from across North America are traveling to the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy in Quetzeltenango (Xela), Guatemala from April 13 to April 28, 2013 to collaborate on the development and operation of a school library. Librarians Without Borders has built a library to serve the unique needs of Asturias Academy, a school that seeks to eliminate disparities in education through subsidized tuition for low-income families, and the surrounding community.

For Fraser, this trip is significant because it is his first since joining the organization last year.

“Librarians Without Borders has two projects underway, one in Ghana and the other in Guatemala,” said Fraser. “The Guatemala library is attached to a school that works to provide empowerment to the local Indigenous and low income families. I am really looking forward to helping establish a book lending system and culture.  We will be showing students how the new lending system works and we’ll use fun and games to get them excited about borrowing books and reading.”

Libraries Without Borders has partnered with the Asturias Academy since 2009 to support the Academy’s vision to build a sustainable community library in the school. This year’s on-site work will focus on cataloging, searching and borrowing technologies and training the staff on these tools, to enable students to locate and check out books for the very first time.

Many Guatemalans lack access to books and literacy materials, as books are taxed beyond the reach of most people. This year, Guatemalan public schools were only able to supply math books to 6th graders, leaving all other students without books to study. Through after-school reading programs, reading exchanges with students abroad, and using the library as a space for community and cultural events, the Asturias Academy is committed to fostering a love of reading and promoting educational equality.

Last year, with the help of a full-time on-site librarian funded by Librarians Without Borders, Guatemalan students far surpassed the reading goal of four books per year, reading on average some 14 books each. It is hoped this will climb even higher once children can check books out of the library and bring them home.

About Librarians Without Borders

Librarians Without Borders (LWB) is an action-oriented non-profit organization that strives to narrow information access inequities worldwide by supporting libraries in developing regions and domestic communities. www.librarianswithoutborders.org

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Diane Poulin, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg

204.988.7135,  d.poulin@uwinnipeg.ca



Carla Wintersgill, LWB Communications Specialist




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