Archive for the ‘Librarians Without Borders’ Category


This is the ninth consecutive spring that LWB is traveling to the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Since 2010 over 130 librarians and library science students have spent more than 45 working days onsite to help our partner realize and grow their dream of an open stacks, circulating school library. What started as cinder blocks in 2010 is now the vibrant center of the school.

LWB uses this annual service trip to execute our remote work on the ground, to discuss emerging needs with our partner, and to re-connect with students and school staff. We invite you to work alongside us this year from April 20 to April 29, 2018.

This year’s work at the Academy will include collection management activities (taking an inventory of the collection and cataloguing, processing, and adding new items), library programming for students, and training for teachers. LWB works with Asturias to also provide edutourism activities for trip participants that will help nurture a comprehensive understanding of libraries, education, and culture in Guatemala. Typically, trip participants are also given the opportunity to help finalize the last weekend activity (for example, visit scenic Lake Atitlán or historic Antigua).

Primary Projects

  • Cataloging, processing, and adding new items to the library’s collection
  • Taking an inventory of the collection
  • Library programming targeting primary school students through multi-day library events
  • Professional development workshops for teachers supporting library integration into the curriculum

Housing and Food
While in Quetzaltenango (Xela), participants will stay and eat most of their meals at the COFA Catholic Retreat Centre. All dinners (9) plus all meals on the last weekend will be eaten at local restaurants and will be the responsibility of volunteers. Vegetarian options will be available but are limited.

All trip volunteers are expected to:

  • Attend online meetings (3-4) to discuss projects and receive training on the Asturias Library and local culture. These meetings are mandatory for all volunteers.
  • Join and contribute to a working team before the trip.
  • Plan activities and prepare materials before the trip.
  • Participate in post-trip assessments (e.g. evaluation surveys).

Program Fees
The program fee is $1200 CAD* (= ~$933 USD) for 10 days. This total covers lodging in Xela (7 nights), all breakfasts and lunches in Xela, transportation, and entrance to all activities within Guatemala, as well as a fundraising fee to support LWB’s Guatemalan programs. Trip participants are responsible for paying their own airfare to and from Guatemala, for lodging fees on the first and last day (April 20 and 29), shuttle ride to the airport on the last day, and for all dinners (9 days).

There is a $500 CAD non-refundable deposit due by all accepted applicants by February 9. The remainder of the fees ($700 CAD) can be paid at the same time or by February 23*.

In addition, all trip participants are expected to bring extra spending money for additional purchases such as souvenirs and snacks, dinners, airport shuttle, and lodging on the weekends ($250-$300 CAD is adequate).

Note, in previous years some participants have created crowdfunding campaigns to wholly or partially offset the costs of the trip. LWB uses our social media channels to promote those campaigns for participants.

Important Dates

  • Guatemala Information Meeting (online) – January 7
  • Application Deadline – January 26
  • Successful applicants selected and notified – February 6
  • $500 CAD* non-refundable deposit due – February 16
  • $700 CAD* remainder of program fees – March 2

*Note: The $1200 CAD may be revised to a new final figure if a significant change in exchange rate occurs. Should this happen, the information would be published by February 16.

How to apply:  Download the Volunteer Application Questions & Instructions, review, and submit your completed volunteer application using our online form. For questions, please contact us at



Trip Participants will travel to Guatemala, visiting school and community libraries in Quetzaltenango and Chajul. Volunteers will complete seven days of work with two partner organizations: the Asturias Academy and Limitless Horizons Ixil. Other trip activities include sightseeing, cultural visits and workshops designed to give participants a comprehensive understanding of libraries, education and culture in Guatemala. This highly immersive experience allows volunteers to provide much needed on-the ground support.

How to apply: submit completed application form to by March 13, 2014. Successful applicants will by notified by the week of March 17.

About our Partner Organizations
The Miguel Angel Asturias Academy is a K-12 non-profit private school in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. The Academy was founded in 1994 with a goal to eliminate education disparities through subsidized tuition. The Academy’s curriculum is based on the popular education theory of Brazilian educator Paulo Freire, in which systems of injustice are confronted and transformed on the basis of all as teachers and learners.

The Asturias Academy has been working with Librarians Without Borders since 2010, to envision and develop a library within the school. Today, the library is open to students and staff and has just begun lending books for use outside school hours. During the 2014 trip, volunteers will work with library staff to assist with library-related work activities including cataloguing, programming and library maintenance. LWB volunteers will also plan and deliver a series of activities and programs for the Academy students and staff during the annual “Library Day” celebration.

The Saber Sin Límites Chajul Community Library is the first and only community library in the town of Chajul, located in the rural mountainous region of Quiche, Guatemala. With a membership of 1,400 users—ranging in age from four to forty—and counting, 3,783 titles, two librarians, and many helping hands, the library is making reading fun and popular in Chajul. During the service trip, LWB volunteers will have the opportunity to learn about issues related to education and literacy and provide assistance with the children’s library fair.

Housing and Food
Lodging and meals are included in the trip fees. While in Xela, participants will stay at the COFA Catholic Retreat Centre. In Chajul, participants will stay at accommodations provided by Limitless Horizons. Meals will be provided by a local family, or at local restaurants or eateries. Vegetarian options will be available.

Duration April 20 – May 1, 2014

Trip Fees

Program fee* : $800 CAD
Fundraising** : $200 CAD
Total : $1000 CAD

*Program fee includes: lodging, most meals, entrance to all activities and transportation within Guatemala. Volunteers are responsible for cost of flights to and from Guatemala. You are expected to bring extra spending money for additional purchases such as souvenirs and snacks and occasional meals while in Guatemala.
**Fundraising fee will go towards funding projects at the Asturias Academy and Chajul Community Library. This portion is a non-refundable deposit.

All trip volunteers are expected to attend 3 briefing meetings (held online) to discuss projects and receive training on trip projects, prior to departure.

Learn More
A trip information meeting will be held on March 9 (online). Meeting link coming soon.

Questions? Contact:

Contributed by Jennifer Hoyer. Music Director, Keiskamma Music Academy.

Originally published here: Books for a village, books for a future: LWB gives to South Africa’s Keiskamma Trust.

Can you imagine going to school with no textbooks? Can you imagine doing a research assignment with no library?

Would you ever dream of writing a government English exam without having seen a copy of the curriculum’s required reading?


Staff and students hang out in the library at Vulindlela, the Keiskamma Trust’s resource centre in Hamburg, South Africa.

For students in Hamburg, South Africa, (check the map!) the unimaginable isn’t such a stretch from reality.  By partnering with theKeiskamma Trust, a community development organization that promotes holistic health and education in Hamburg, Librarians Without Borders (LWB) has helped put books on shelves in a community library.

In a place like Hamburg, a book on a shelf provides more than a good story or the answers for an assignment.  Hamburg is located in the Eastern Cape, historically one of the most mismanaged and corrupt provinces in South Africa.  It isn’t uncommon for school textbooks and workbooks to sit in government warehouses while students go without.  It isn’t uncommon for schools in rural villages to have no library or computer lab.

When a student has never seen an encyclopedia, chances of completing a research project are slim.  When a school has no copies of the set book for a high school English exam, chances of passing the exam – and proceeding to the next grade – are almost non-existent.  In situations like this, a book is more than a story, a key to a larger world, or a recipe for a passing grade.  Books become essential tools for passing high school, for being the first in the family to access post-secondary education, and for getting a job that seemed completely beyond the reach of rural Africa.

The primary focus of the education program at the Keiskamma Trust is providing support for youth, especially orphans and vulnerable children.  The current priority is the establishment of a youth centre with Information and Communications Technology (ICT) facilities and a library to be used by youth and community members. The local high school has no computers and no library, so the Keiskamma Trust has set up a resource centre on a nearby property. By providing information resources and ICT accessibility, the resource centre hopes to improve high school pass rates as well as provide greater opportunity for graduates to attend post-secondary education and connect with broader economic opportunities.


Staff members Matshezi and Nokuphumla check out some of the new reference texts.

The centre acquired computers by donation, and a small library collection was set up. Unfortunately, the collection is largely unsuitable for the research needs of high school students or the interests of young adult readers.  High speed internet has opened new opportunities for the community to access information at the computer lab, the high cost of use in rural areas makes it prohibitive for most people.

Donations from both LWB International and the LWB Ottawa Student Committee have kickstarted the purchase of current reference resources for the resource centre library collection.  Staff are excited to now have copies of high school English required reading texts, as well as study guides and supplementary resources.

The library has become a popular hangout, as the resources centre is a hive of community activity: computer classes, chess club, movie night and life skills workshops are only a few activities on the calendar.  It’s exciting to know that, for students in rural South Africa, a few new books on the library shelves can mean a better grade on an exam, the opportunity to graduate from high school, and the chance to do more in life than you ever thought possible.


Students Mihle (Gr. 11) and Mkhululi (Gr. 10) are happy to see some of their class study materials in the library.


Carolyne Ménard explaining activities for Library Day to a group of students at the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy in Guatemala.  / Photo courtesy of Carolyne Ménard.

Carolyne Ménard explaining activities for Library Day to a group of students at the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy in Guatemala. / Photo courtesy of Carolyne Ménard.

Congratulations to Carolyne Menard, the Co-Chair of McGill University’s Librarian’s Without Borders Committee! The McGill Reporter has just published Carolyne’s in depth reflections of her recent service trip to Guatemala. Read an excerpt below then follow the link for the full article.

By Carolyne Ménard

This past April, I had the opportunity to travel to Guatemala with Librarians Without Borders (LWB), a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of equal access to information resources. Librarians Without Borders has student chapters in many Canadian universities – such as McGill – and its volunteers are either librarianship students or professional librarians. LWB sees libraries as tools for powering development and reducing inequalities in the world by providing information access to everyone, regardless of where they live or what their socioeconomic background is.

Since 2009, LWB has maintained a partnership with the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy, a primary and high school in Quetzaltenango, the second largest city in Guatemala. Founded in 1994, the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy’s goal is to break the poverty cycle in Guatemala by providing an alternative education to its students, based on the pedagogy of Brazilian activist Paulo Freire, author of Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

At the school, students learn and analyze the situation in which they live, they criticize it and they take actions to change it. The school also aims to provide education to social groups often marginalized by the Guatemalan education system: the poor, the women and the indigenous communities. The ultimate goal of the school’s director and founder, Jorge Chojolán, is that the Asturias Academy could implement a social change in Guatemala through the involvement of its students in their community and their will to make their country a more equal place.

Since the Asturias’ curriculum is not identical to the official program of the minister of education, it cannot receive any subventions from the Guatemalan government. To solve this problem, it relies mostly on partnerships with international non-profit organizations, such as LWB. Since the start of its partnership, LWB has been sending participants each year to work in the school’s library. The school’s library offers a nice reading space for students and is very well maintained by the librarians, who are also volunteers. The library was actually built by LWB in 2009, starting with a modest collection of 30 books. Four years later, it now has more than 3,000 books, thanks to donations from individuals, organisations and LWB’s annual trips.

Read the rest of Carolyne’s insights as originally published in the McGill Reporter: Libraries as Tools For Change

Join Librarians Without Borders at the OLA Super Conference for a fun evening at Jack Astor’s Restaurant Bar and Grill on Friday February 1st, 6:30 p.m.! Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to find out more information about Librarians Without Borders, meet Librarians Without Borders members and hear about our upcoming trip to Guatemala this April!

For more information or to join the event visit our Facebook Event page.

We look forward to seeing you there!


*Poster and text courtesy of Carmen Ho.

Speaking Tour Announcement

It is our pleasure to announce that Librarians Without Borders (LWB) will be hosting our Guatemalan partner, Jorge Chojolan, from November 11 – 29, as part of a North American speaking tour. Jorge is the founder and director of the Asturias Academy, a progressive K-12 school that offers education for students from low-income and indigenous families. The speaking events will focus on the following themes: education reform, leadership, libraries and literacy in Guatemala.

About Jorge Chojolan

Jorge has spent his life committed to improving access to education for low income and indigenous families in Guatemala. Inspired by the writing of Paulo Friere’s book Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Jorge is creating an alternative school system designed to spur improvements in education throughout Guatemala. Learn more about Jorge’s story…

Librarians Without Borders and the Asturias Academy

Since 2009, Librarians Without Borders has worked with Jorge and the Asturias Academy to promote literacy and libraries in Guatemala. Through many hours of fundraising, planning and hard work, Asturias was able to open a community library to students and their families in January 2011. Learn more about our work in Guatemala…

Tour Itinerary & Public Events

“Promoting Democracy and Human Rights Through Education in Guatemala”

Toronto, ON 
November 13, 6:00PM
St. Mike’s Muzzo Family Alumni Hall (121 St. Joseph Street, Toronto)

London, ON 
November 14, 12:15 – 1:30pm
Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario

Ottawa, ON 
November 16, 2:00 – 4:30pm
Room 129, Simard Hall, University of Ottawa

Montreal, QC 
Public lecture and reception for the library community.
November 19, 2012, 6:00 – 8:00pm
Thomson House, 845 Sherbrooke Street West, McGill University

Public lecture and luncheon co-sponsored with The Centre for Society, Technology and Development (STANDD)
November 20, 12:00-1:30 pm
Peterson Hall, room 116, 3460 rue McTavish, McGill University

Public lecture
November 20, 6:00-7:30 pm
Hall Building, 1455 De Maisonneuve W., Concordia University

Los Angeles, CA
November, 29, 7:00 p.m.
Auditorium, Main Campus, Marymount College

*Photo courtesy of John Abernathy Photography

A few days ago, our friend Dr. Beverly Baker send us a message.  She’s in the process of filling an entire shipping container of dearly need supplies to be sent to one of Librarians Without Borders partner groups, Lycee Jean-Baptiste Cineas.  Please take a moment to read her message and help out of you can!

A 40-foot container is being parked on the McGill campus this August and will be filled with discarded McGill desks and furniture and other donations, to be shipped to the Lycee Jean-Baptiste Cineas in Limbe, Haiti. This is a collaborative project with myself, McGill Facilities Management, and undergraduate and graduate students and groups across campus.

When: August 13 and 14
Where: McGill Lower Campus, east side of the James Administration Building, south of the parking lot below the Wong Building (see attached map)

Interesting in helping out with this project? We need you! There are three ways to help:

1) Volunteer to help with the packing of the container on August 13 and 14 :
You can do this by emailing me at and letting me know which days and for which shifts you are available: 9am-1pm or 1pm-5pm. We will need a lot of volunteers to help with this. Experience in packing/moving would be very helpful! Please email me ahead of time so I can schedule volunteers in an efficient way.

2) Drop by with a donation: You can drop by between 9 and 5 on the 13th and 14th with the following items:

·        – Microscopes

·        – CD players, DVD playes, cassette tape players; rechargeable batteries and chargers of all types

·         -Large coffee makers (50+ cups) and reuseable cups

·         -Basketballs and basketball nets; soccer balls

·        – Musical instruments

·         -Art supplies; sewing supplies (not cloth, but notions)

Books in French, Spanish, or English as a second language and  school supplies (paper, pens, binders, folders, etc.) are also welcome.
Please do not bring anything that is not on this list, as there are restrictions on what we can pack. Make sure that you bring items already packed in boxes and labelled. Please make sure that the items are all in excellent condition.

3) Donate $$$ to help with the shipping costs
To make a tax-deductible donation, go to the following link and donate through MSR International, a non-profit organisation that supports projects at the school.
Click on “donate now” and the container fund for Haiti will be visible.

A big thanks to all who have already donated materials as well as money to support this project. The container will be shipped to Haiti on August 17 and should be at the school in time for the start of classes!
Beverly Baker

P.S. For more information on the Lycee Jean-Baptiste Cineas, go to my YouTube video of our work there: