International librarians visit ALA
From left: Yinka Ayo-Yusuf (Nigeria), Darya Bukhtoyarova (Kazakhstan), Lukas Kilemba (Kenya), Valerie Clarke (Barbados), and Deborah Eddy-Ugorji (Nigeria).
Sixteen librarians from around the world participated in a program put together by the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs (University of Illinois Library). The group visited the ALA offices in Chicago on June 15, 2012.
Michael Dowling, director of ALA's International and Chapter Relations Offices, addresses a group of international librarians who are participating in a program at the Mortenson Center at the University of Illinois.
Sixteen librarians visited the ALA offices in Chicago June 15 from countries as far away as Nigeria, Egypt, and Japan, among others. The librarians were part of an annual summer associates program assembled by the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs at the University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign.
Michael Dowling, director of ALA’s International and Chapter Relations Office, talked with the group about transformations within the library field and about the Association and member participation. He also addressed such topics as intellectual freedom, intellectual property and copyright, programming, and accreditation, particularly within a global scope.
Most of the participating librarians were from academic and public libraries. According to Barbara Ford, Mortenson’s director and ALA past president, the program’s objective is to help international librarians gain a better understanding of libraries in the United States; develop a professional network of colleagues; learn about new library technologies; and better understand advocacy and fundraising strategies that they can take back to their home countries.
Several visiting librarians asked questions related to issues they face back home, from practical matters such as maintaining a better website, to more serious concerns, including fighting for libraries under threat of being shut down and dealing with blocked websites inside their country. Participants were also interested in learning about how ALA reaches out to celebrities for its READ posters and how they can re-create similar efforts in their country.
One of the 16 visiting librarians, Darya Bukhtoyarova of Kazakhstan, also asked how to best counter the public image of librarians as those who merely “shush people and shelve books.” Dowling said he was not sure “if we’ll ever break that image,” but he noted that it is crucial for librarians to get stories out about themselves. “It is the responsibility of librarians to get publicity if you are doing something different,” he said. “It creates good visibility.”