Posts Tagged ‘Librarians Without Borders’

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


Vamos Super Chivos! One of the highlights of the recent Librarians Without Borders service trip to Guatemala was experiencing the madness that surrounds professional futbol. After the working day was done, we had the opportunity to attend a semi-final playoff game, featuring the Xelaju Super Chivos (Super Goats). The Super Chivos play in the Liga Nacional, Guatemala’s top footballing division and were on the brink of a major upset

The atmosphere was absolutely electric.  Here are the highlights:

  • Every conceivable sort of vendor had arrived and set up camp beneath the bleachers. This had the effect of forming a weird, underground sea of humanity, all barking and clawing their way to the merchandise of their choice. The smell of roasted peanuts and barbecued pork  mixed with scents of the knock-off cologne being hawked to the eager crowd.
  • For whatever reason, beer is sold only in 1 litre sizes.  That’s a lot of liquid for one person to hold over the course of a 90 minute match.  Compounded by the fact that there were only two bathrooms for a 5000 person crowd, the game was as much a workout for the fans as it was for the players.
  • The intensity of the crowd was phenomenal.  Whether it involved songs, dances or human waves, the entire crowd acted as one massive, screaming organism. There were more than a few ribald chants questioning the dubious ancestry of opposing players. After the first home team goal, the air was filled with so much confetti it blocked out the sky.

After a hard fought match, Club Xelaju MC downed rivals Club Marquense to advance to the quarter final round. Sharing this victory with an ecstatic hometown crowd gave us a unique insight into Guatemalan life we would otherwise never have experienced.

Over the past several years, I’ve involved myself in the non-profit, pro-literacy group Librarians Without Borders (LWB).  Seven years after its inception as a small student run group at the University of Western Ontario , LWB boasts over 1000 international members.  It has launched literacy initiatives across the globe.  Apart from our core of dedicated, passionate volunteers and supporters, one of our greatest strengths is the support network we’ve built with similarly minded non-profit groups.

One of the major constraints on non-profit groups (especially smaller, volunteer driven organizations) is a poverty of human resources.  There is such a need for the services non-profit groups offer, yet the burden of providing those services often falls upon the shoulders of too few people.  Cooperation, info sharing and mutual support can help fill those gaps, and we can all prosper because of it.

On Wednesday, March 21st, 2012, the University of Ottawa LWB Committee will sponsor an event that will demonstrate the importance of these bonds.  Many thanks to representatives from SchoolBox and Village Link Tanzania for agreeing to speak at the event.

When: Wednesday, March 21, 2012, 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Where: Royal Oak, 161 Laurier East (Basement)
Cost: Free

Non-profits in action: Making a difference by improving access to informationInterested in projects that make a difference in Central America, the Caribbean and Africa? Want to learn more about how libraries and access to information can improve the lives of people all over the world? The uOttawa Librarians Without Borders chapter ( is hosting an informal information night, showcasing organizations that are making a difference. Stop by for a drink and some snacks, meet like-minded people, network, and get involved. You’ll hear from representatives from non-profit groups including Village Link Tanzania ( and SchoolBOX ( that are working in Africa, the Caribbean and Central America.***********************************************************
Charité en action : Faire une différence en améliorant l’accès à l’information.

Vous êtes intéressés par des projets qui font une différence en Amérique Centrale, aux Caraïbes et en Afrique? Vous désirez en apprendre plus sur comment les bibliothèques et l’accès global à l’information peuvent améliorer la vie d’individus à travers le monde? Le comité UOttawa de Librarians Without Borders ( organise une soirée d’information informelle sur ce sujet. Passez donc prendre un verre et manger une bouchée, rencontrer des gens qui partagent vos idées, faire du réseautage et vous impliquer.

Vous pourrez en apprendre plus au sujet d’organisations à but non lucratif telles que Village Link Tanzania ( et SchoolBox ( qui œuvrent en Afrique, dans les Caraïbes et en Amérique Centrale.*

*Italicised text courtesy of uOttawa Librarians Without Borders Committee

Over the past few days I’ve had the opportunity to enrich my professional career by attending the 66th annual Canadian Library Association conference in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The city is vibrant (if a bit foggy) and the conference lineup is stacked with appealing speakers and great info sessions.

With so many concurrent sessions it can be difficult to hit everything, but if I were only able to attend one session this would be it:

Service Learning: Bringing the World into LIS Education

Friday, May 27


Room 312/305

What does every manager want from LIS graduates? Librarians who are able to tackle real library problems. How do we help students develop these skills? By giving them experiences to apply and test themselves. Come to this session to discover how service learning benefits LIS students and to hear about recent service projects led by Librarians Without Borders’ students in Costa Rica and Guatemala.

Speakers: Carolyn Doi, Liaison Librarian, McGill University
Melanie Sellar, Education Services Librarian, Marymount College 
Erin Walker, Children’s Services Librarian, Bradford West Gwillimbury Public Library

Considering I was one of the twenty-seven librarians who was lucky enough to participate in our April 2011 service trip to Guatemala, I may be biased in my choice. Regardless, I urge anyone with an interest in non-traditional librarianship or advocacy for under-serviced populations to stop by and learn about our efforts and successes in Central America.

*CLA logo and italicized text courtesy of the Canadian Library Association

Event in Ottawa – Librarians Without Borders: International Service Learning in Guatemala

Thursday, March 24, 2011, 5:30 pm

Ottawa Public Library

Rideau Branch, 377 Rideau

In a few short months, myself, along with 25 other progressively minded librarians will be travelling to the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy in Xela, Guatemala.  The group is primarily made up of library students from McGill University, University of Toronto, University of Western Ontario and Dalhousie University, but several member of the Librarians Without Borders Executive Committee will be tagging along.

The Asturias Academy is a one-of-a-kind institution, catering to the literacy and educational needs of rural Guatemalans that may not otherwise have access to such services.  Their teaching philosophy is based on the writings of Paulo Friere, primarily his somewhat revolutionary text Pedagogy of the Oppressed.  Instead of being treated as vessels to be filled with knowledge, students are seen as co-creators of knowledge.

If anyone happens to be in the Ottawa area March 24th, I urge you to drop by and hear a pair of wonderful speakers espouse the merits of international service learning and regale you with their experiences of previous trips to the Academy.  The text below comes courtesy of the Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Services website:

Librarians Without Borders (LWB) is a non-profit organization that strives to improve access to information resources by forming partnerships with community organizations in developing regions. In this talk, Carolyn Doi and Robyn Maler will speak about the student-led collaboration between Librarians Without Borders and the Asturias Academy Library, a private, non-profit, K – 12 school in Guatemala that aims to create informed, critically-thinking, and socially conscious citizens through a unique model of education.


Carolyn Doi received her MLIS from McGill University in 2010 and is a Music Liaison Librarian at the same institution. She has been active in Librarians Without Borders (LWB) since 2008, and helped to co-organize a service learning trip for eleven LWB student members in 2010 to Guatemala to do fieldwork with the Asturias Academy Library. She is currently Asturias Library Project Manager.

Robyn Maler is the Chair of Librarians Without Borders McGill student committee and is currently finishing the MLIS program at McGill University. A participant in the April 2010 trip to Asturias, Robyn is excited to continue LWB’s hard work as this year’s Project Lead.”

Please register using the link below:

Good news everybody!

I’ve been invited by the Librarians Without Borders (LWB) executive to speak at an upcoming event in Ottawa.  Since its inception in 2005, the LWB has worked to increase fair and equitable access to information, regardless of geography, politics or religion.  Both the LWB executive and its student groups have forged relationships with community organizations and individuals interested in promoting literacy in developing regions.

The event will showcase the accomplishments of our student chapters from the University of Western Ontario, the University of Toronto and McGill University.  Together, we’ve sent students to Guatemala and Costa Rica, hosted guests from Tanzania and raised funds for worthy local causes.  I urge anyone interested in learning more about information access in developing countries to come out and share our experiences.

Below is the official invite from the LWB website:

Event in Ottawa: Putting Information in the Hands of the World

Wednesday, May 19, 2010, 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Over the last year, Librarians Without Borders‘ Student Committees have been  involved in a number of local and international information access projects. LWB has undertaken these projects in order to improve access to information for the people in these communities. Specifically, LWB students have been engaged in a number of projects to build libraries in Canada, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.

To celebrate the accomplishments of our students,  Librarians Without Borders is pleased to partner with   CLA-CASLIS to offer an evening program in Ottawa, where representatives of various student committees will be talking about their work.

Please join us! Come learn about their amazing projects and hear how MLIS students are helping to put information in the hands of the world!


LWB-McGill Committee: Valli Fraser-Celin and Carolyn Doi

LWB-University of Toronto Committee: Mark Gelsomino

LWB-University of Western Ontario Committee: Erin Walker, Aubrey Kirkpatrick, and Kris Meen

When: Wednesday, May 19, 2010, 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Where: Ottawa Public Library Auditorium (120 Metcalfe St)
Admission: By donation (suggested amount: $5 – $10).

Donors will have the chance to win a copy of Three Cups of Tea and Stones Into Schools by Greg Mortenson!

All proceeds from this event will go to Librarians Without Borders
Register at <>
For more information, contact or

Further Reading:

Check out these links to find out what our student groups have been up to and to learn more about the groups and individuals we’ve partnered with.

The event is being graciously hosted by the Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Information Systems (CASLIS).

Here’s the Librarians Without Borders main site.

Paul Francescutti, a television producer/director, has produced Remote Access, a documentary chronicling his travels to remote libraries in Kenya and Peru.

One of the several worthy causes we’ve raised money for.  The Children’s Book Bank operates out of the ethnically diverse Toronto neighborhood of Parkdale and supplies books, literacy support and programming to children in need.

Read about the LWB McGill chapter’s trip to Guatemala…

…and the LWB Western chapter’s trip to Costa Rica!

Many thanks to Jessica, who recommended me to the people organizing the event.  Check out her library blog here: