Our fields of action
Libraries Without Borders’ core mission is to expand access to knowledge and information for all. In practice, expanding access to knowledge takes comes through different methods in different regions. Since we are devoted to providing locally-relevant and sustainable solutions, our projects represent the following fields of action.
LWB establishes libraries within educational and university institutions to support students, instructors, researchers, and the communities surrounding them. Concretely, this includes supplying equipment, IT hardware and software, published works, electronic documents and tools, and multimedia and teaching resources. In an effort to help teachers and professors in the classroom, LWB also establishes education pedagogy resource centers.
Examples of actions: In Burundi, Rwanda and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, LWB is supporting the creation of specialized documentation centers at three universities. In Haiti, LWB provides teacher training services new pedagogical resource centers across the country.
Access to culture and information
LWB develops institutions and programs that expand access to books, information, and culture for communities in the developing world. LWB provides support to partner institutions such as public and association libraries and cultural centers to develop their book collections, electronic resources, and the quality of their cultural programming.
Examples of actions: In Romania, LWB has assisted in the redevelopment of the Galati French Library’s material and electronic collections, financial and human management structures, and educational and cultural activities.
Promotion of historical heritage
LWB supports the preservation and promotion of local written and oral history through the establishment of institutions like libraries and cultural centers and the training of personnel in archival and restoration techniques. In an effort to champion local knowledge and publishing, LWB also helps to distribute and facilitate local literature in the countries of its work.
Examples of actions: In Northern Niger, LWB partnered with librarians at a public library on a local historical hertiage preservation project. LWB staff worked with local librarians to collect traditional history, stories, and fables in Tomacheck, Hausa, and Fula (Puel) languages. LWB also helped the public library publish the traditional history collections in bilingual (French and local language) volumes using micropublishing and binding equipment.
Reducing the digital divide
LWB supports libraries in their efforts to modernize their document collections and technologies by developing electronic resources, increasing IT capacities and connectivity to the Internet, and promoting the dissemination of books using new digital media. LWB also works on the development of entertaining and educational interactive tools, the creation of web platforms for cooperative learning, and on the computerization of library catalogs.
Examples of actions: In 2011, LWB opened the University Digital Library at the State University of Haiti (UEH). The first digital library in Haiti, it now provides 15,000 students, researchers, and professors in Port-au-Prince with access to millions of electronic articles and books.
Professionalization of librarians
Whether in France or abroad, LWB provides training workshops and programs to develop the skills of several hundred librarians each year. Providing librarians from around the world with training for advanced skills in management, library, and information sciences, LWB helps librarians to effectively develop their own libraries and bring the best possible services to users. Management training gives structural support for libraries to help ensure their continued financial existence through revenue-generating activities.
Examples of actions: LWB organized training sessions for nearly 300 librarians in 2010 at locations around the world. The website SavoirSolidaire.net, created by LWB, also provides online training and networking for librarians.
LWB’s efforts in Haiti following the devastating 2010 earthquake showed that books, expression, education, and culture play a vital role in providing relief in humanitarian emergencies. Books and culture help disaster victims to cope with catastrophe and to prepare for the future. Since LWB believes strongly that dignity through books, writing, and learning should not be denied to victims of humanitarian disasters, we have placed greater emphasis in our projects on providing relief services.
Examples of actions: In Haiti, LWB organized two programs in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps after the 2010 earthquake. First, we partnered with UNICEF to provide “trunks of books” in French and Creole and story-times for children in the camps. Second, we set up 30 mini-libraries or reading organizations in the camps. In Tunisia, following the revolutions, we sent collections of books to damaged Tunisian libraries so that they could once again serve library users.