Poudre River Public Library District is pleased to announce that earlier this year we entered into a collaborative agreement as Sister Library to the San Juan del Sur Biblioteca, located in San Juan Del Sur, on Nicaragua’s Pacific coast.
The San Juan del Sur (SJDS) Biblioteca was established in 2000 by a Colorado native, Jane Mirandette, in cooperation with local residents. The SJDS Biblioteca was the first public lending library in the country of Nicaragua. Since its inception, the library has provided services to the residents of San Juan del Sur as well as mobile library services to remote and rural towns and villages in the surrounding region.
The SJDS library recently acquired a new, larger space. The new, 2,000 square foot library opened in May. Its expanded collections, new computers and dedicated staff are offering improved access and learning opportunities in a country where most citizens have never experienced the tremendous benefits offered by a public lending library. As Ms. Mirandette said recently, the SJDS Biblioteca is helping to create a reading culture where none existed before.
The SJDS Biblioteca, the Hester J. Hodgdon Libraries for All Program which supports the SJDS library, and Ms. Jane Mirandette are known and respected internationally and in the US library and educational communities. In 2009, the Hester J. Hodgdon Libraries for All Program was the recipient of the ALA Presidential Citation for International Innovation. The SJDS Biblioteca is also an active member of the Nicaraguan Library Association ANIBIPA and a founding member of their En Tu Biblioteca campaign with ALA and IFLA.
As we considered a cooperative relationship, both parties saw that Sister Library programs offer substantial benefits. They allow for the sharing of information, resources, training and expertise among the staff and patrons from both libraries, promote the concept of a global community of libraries, and raise awareness of issues and needs facing libraries internationally. The American Library Association recognizes the value of Sister Libraries and promotes the establishment of such partnerships through its International Relations Round Table. This partnership is also recognized by the newly formed International Library and Cultural Exchange Interest Group (ILCE-IG)of the Colorado Association of Libraries, with hopes that the two Sister Libraries will serve as an example and resource for other libraries contemplating similar cooperative relationships.
Our agreement is already producing exciting results. PRPLD staff members Carol Gyger and Victor Zuniga helped the SJDS Biblioteca select, customize, and implement Koha library open source software, to establish an automated circulation system and catalog. Victor Zuniga trained the Nicaraguan staff to use and support the software. Johanna Ulloa, PRPLD Outreach Specialist, and SJDS Biblioteca staff have brought together students from San Juan del Sur and a Ft Collins bilingual school (Harris Bilingual Elementary in the Poudre School Distrct) to participate in Skype, traditional pen pal and e-mail pal projects. Over 30 students from both countries have sent letters and drawings of themselves back and forth, with plans to continue the connections between the groups when school begins again in the fall for the Ft Collins students.
We are hopeful that these efforts are just the beginning, and that moving forward we will forge a collegial and productive relationship between our two libraries. Pictured here is Holly Carroll, Executive Director, Poudre River Public Library District and
Jane Mirandette, Founder/Director San Juan del Sur Biblioteca.
Article submitted by Ken Draves, Deputy Director, Poudre River Public Library District