This past February I went on a fantastic “lecture tour” to Spain organized by the US Embassy there. I spoke at events in Murcia, Barcelona and Madrid (in chronological order). It was a joy to share information, ideas and examples about library advocacy, access to information, the social role of libraries, services for immigrants, multicultural populations and youth. It was also fantastic to hear how Spanish colleagues are designing programs to serve ethnic populations and youth. Besides the speeches I also participated of round tables to exchange ideas about how to strategize library services for diverse groups.
I was very glad to hear about projects such as “Community Mediators” (Mediadores de la Comunidad) where a staff member from the library work with persons from different ethnic groups to help them to understand library services, and the way in which city agencies operate. It reminded me of the Coping Skills programs coordinated by Queens Library’s New Americans Program. In Queens, librarians coordinate events held at the library to help newcomers to adapt to life in America, e.g. understand public health and school systems in NYC, how to become a citizen, etc. In Madrid, the Community Mediators meet with ethnic groups in their community centers or houses and explain, most times one-on-one, how to figure out processes in their new country.
Librarians in Murcia, Barcelona and Madrid were wonderful! Each conference was a distinct event which I have attempted to briefly summarize below:
The title of the event hosted by the Murcia Regional Library was “La acción Social y Educativa de la Biblioteca en Tiempos de Crisis.” The speakers shared news about libraries taking educational and social action in tough economic times. Half of the attendees came from municipal libraries which have one staff member: the librarian. He/she is in charge of developing all programs and services including collections, and should cover the reference desk as well. I was super impressed with the huge load of work done be these librarians! Another large part of the attendees came from public libraries part of a consortia of libraries. There was also representation from LIS professors and students. Spanish librarians shared information about library services designed to help customers during economic tough times, e.g. partnership between a public library and the local Department of Labor to help job seekers fill out unemployment forms and job applications. I spoke about the social role of libraries, services to immigrants, multicultural populations and advocacy.
Presentations in Spanish! are available at the YouTube Channel of the Biblioteca Regional de Murcia (Murcia Regional Library) http://www.youtube.com/user/brmurcia#p/u
The event hosted by the Barcelona Public Library was titled, “III Jornada de Biblioteca Pública e Inmigración – Protagonistas: Los jóvenes,” and it was about public libraries, immigration and services for youth. The speakers shared successful examples of library services to youth, e.g. Graffitti and poetry for teenagers, radio programs developed by libraries and young adult customers. A large number of attendees were library students and new librarians which was perfect to film a video about new librarians and new professionals in Spain. It should be up on my YouTube channel soon! My talk was about services for multicultural populations and youth. Presentations, here: http://bpimmigracio.wordpress.com/materials/
The Goethe Institut in Madrid hosted “III Jornadas Biblioteca Pública y Sociedad Multicultural: Hijos de la Inmigración” which was a most interesting conference about public libraries, multicultural populations and children of immigrants. I particularly liked sessions where attendees discussed topics such as search for identity and internal conflicts experienced by children of immigrants. It was great to hear local librarians and community mediators speak about services for ethnic groups, particularly the Moroccan community. Presentations, here:
Heartfelt thanks to Maria-Jesus Del Olmo, Emilio Garcia-Miguel, and Eva Olle from the US Embassy, and Marta Martinez Valencia, Director of the library magazine “Educación y Biblioteca.” Many thanks to the local organizers from Biblioteca Regional de Murcia, Biblioteca Publica de Barcelona y Goethe Institut.