Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Russians are Coming!

Sarov Coat of Arms The Russians are coming! In this case, we mean Russian librarians and educators. We have partnered with the Los Alamos Public Library to host their Sister City program for Sarov, Russia. The Russians are sending librarians to meet with their counterparts in the US under the auspices of the 2008 One World Program. One of their stops will be the Southside Library because it is a “green”, new modern branch and because of its dynamic, innovative children’s outreach and programs. What a whirlwind visit—seven days of the best of the Southwest and libraries.

The Russian librarians’ credentials are impressive, with experience in school and public libraries. Some of their own projects are ones we can learn from, such as the children’s literature studio for creative writing; creating children’s family exhibitions and book discussions with writers; and such projects as the “Change Yourself, Change the World.”

Hosting a group of librarians and cultural ministers from Belarus a few years ago, I was asked to explain marketing libraries and fundraising. It was as foreign a concept as one could be asked to explain. I think the closest I got to an exchange of ideas was when I asked what US companies had made the biggest inroads in their country. The answers were Coca-Cola and “soon” McDonalds. They were shocked when I suggested they ask those companies for funds for their libraries as well as free product and gift cards for their programs. It was a totally foreign concept. They were shocked to hear that the library that I worked at then received over $125,000 in product from McDonalds and $50,000 in cash from a soft drink company. The buzz as they discussed this fact in Russian got louder and louder. The translators double checked that they had translated it correctly. As nice as the invitation was, I did not accept going to Belarus on an exchange—I would have probably spent all my time seeking funds from “foreign” companies.

I think the key word to describe this project is “exchange.” We will share and exchange information on what works and what doesn’t. From past interactions with librarians around the world, I can say pretty definitively that kids are the same the world over—what works here will work there and vice versa.

Now how do you say Green or Red?

С огромным приветом!!! (My best wishes)

by PCH @ Main

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