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Socialist libraries, racist Christians

By Tamara Pearson
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Librarians have a key role to play in their communities. This is one of the main ideas I got out of the closing forum of the book festival, and something I have to admit I haven’t thought about much, despite my passion for literature. 

The forum was called ‘The book in the construction of Bolivarian Socialism”, and there were 3 speakers- a librarian, a teacher/writer, and someone from the ministry of culture. It was in the main cultural centre of merida (“the most creative concrete structure” as a friend called it..) with about 200 people in the audience, including some school groups.

The speeches were short and there was lots of time for discussion, in which a number of people got up and made proposals. A good format I think : ).

The librarian was the one who most interested me because he had just come from a convention of librarians and rather than talking grandiose, he mentioned a number of programs in formation, proposals, and concrete things that we should aim for. 

Librarians should have a new role in society. In other countries to qualify as a librarian you study information methods. When you work as a librarian you file books, enter information about the books in the computer, check them in and out. Sometimes you do organise talks, or events for children, help kids with homework etc- which I think is great, but as this speaker said, librarians need to have a social role, where, in Venezuela, they are committed to those who are/were excluded.

He said a library consists of two things- the infrastructure, and the librarian (libraries in third world countries have little or no books. There are two public libraries in Merida and they are mostly just tables, the papers are supplied for reading each day, and there is a small archive of ancient books. There are also mobile libraries, caravan size, which do have books).

So librarians here must be committed to books and learning, and to the community, as they are the people who set up the tables, and bring the books to where they are needed.The librarian conference approved a number of proposals which he read out, and which I couldn’t write down all of them fast enough, but they included:

-Librarians must be readers, more importantly than they must be professionals

-Librarians should be connected with artists, psychologists, teachers etc in their community

-Librarians should be community leaders, involved in the community councils, and they should guarantee knowledge to the community.

Only by being involved like this, can a librarian know the learning priorities of their community.

Love it! I wanna be a librarian! Oh I’d organise reading circles, writing groups, story telling and all sorts of things… mmmm 

Well on the crappy side of things, firecrackers alerted me to the fact that the opposition was marching past my house on Saturday (see photos). It was a big march, but judging by how long they took to march past (about 20 minutes) I don’t think it was as big as the Chavista one a while ago.

But damn you notice the difference when you watch these opposition marches. They are so obviously middle/upper class, they are WAY more white- percentage wise, and whilst some of the young are quite vibrant- with drums and music etc, a lot of them are so clearly uncomfortable with marching. Of course they are- what are they marching for and what are they angry about? A amplifier on the back of a truck blurted out bullshit about how the new laws are just a way for Chavez to gain more power.  

Further on the crappy side of things, NOTHING happened in Merida for Indigenous day (at least not in the city). How disappointing. The mayor managed to organise stuff for the anniversary of the founding of the city, but did not mark the genocide and resistance of the original people here. There was stuff organised around the country in other states however, (see my article on www.venezuelanalysis.com : ) but even that seemed pretty tokenistic.There was, however, in Merida, a march of about 1000 Christians celebrating the arrival of Christ to the continent. Disgusting. (also see photos).

 photos on blog, www.gringadiary.blogspot.com