What Cuban librarians are doing  


Of seven INFO meetings since 1987, this was the first conducted in English and Spanish. This meant that North Americans could participate in greater numbers. 31 people attended from the US. ASCUBI -- the Cuban Librarians Association -- hosted several discussions with the US librarians. These portraits are of the ASCUBI members at the first of these meetings.

President Marta Terry introduced the topic of Cuban libraries. She explained: Cuba has progressed through three stages with its libraries. First, the librarians occupied themselves primarily with taking care of the books. Later, the main work was to promote the library outside of the library. Now the task is to work with the community, do the social and cultural research to find out what are the community's needs that the library can help with, and get to it.

With this in mind, ASCUBI members shared what they were working on in their libraries.

At one library, they teamed up with local film school professors to arrange for students to write and video short scripts.

Elsewhere librarians are reading books on the local radio station while children in the listening audience draw. The pictures that are sent to the library will be exhibited there.

One library's town is known as the "comics' nest" -- here librarians are helping students gather oral histories to bring this historic reputation to life.

Every municipal library has its ASCUBI activist -- who promotes the activities of ASCUBI among librarians. It costs one peso to join ASCUBI for one year.

One librarian has already written her experiences up and made a video. A bigger push is coming to report what's working. The Internet is one place to publish ideas and experiences. (ASCUBI got the international library community -- IFLA -- its first listserv, back in the day.)

One of the library students observed: all these projects are part of what Cubans call the battle of ideas, a national project to refocus the revolution around new conditions (like the Internet) and the energy of new generations.

To contact the Cuban Librarians Association, email ascubi@fcom.uh.cu



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