Librarians without Borders: Guatemala

Kathy Plath and Sue Keefer raised funds for book purchases

Kathy Plath and Sue Keefer raised funds for book purchases

Two ILCE-IG members, Kathy Plath and Sue Keefer, recently journeyed to Guatemala with Librarians Without Borders to work in a school library in Quetzaltenango.


Ten years ago, Librarians Without Borders, a group from Canada, partnered with Miguel Angel Asturias Academy to start a library. Each year, the group goes back to take new books, do cataloging, do library programming, and other activities, depending on the school’s needs.


Kathy and Sue were chosen to attend with seven other librarians and library students from Canada and the U.S. Two Canadian librarians went along as LWB leaders.


The group arrived in Guatemala City April 26. The next day, they traveled to a book publisher outside of the city, where they purchased books for the school. Both Kathy and Sue had hosted Facebook fundraisers, and most of the books purchased were due to their efforts.

The group spent four days at the school, which is a K-12 private school. The first two days, after a tour of the school, some began cataloging the purchased books, while others worked on finishing up programming for the students.


Primary students with their masks

The last two days were spent working with the students. Before coming into the library, everyone must take off their shoes (adults, too!). Some of the activities included a using a flannel board with a desert habitat, singing animal songs, and making animal masks (for the younger students) and origami, a word search, and “name the animal” for the older students.

After the programming on the last day, the LWB group was surprised with a special event. Several age groups did traditional dances, and then each LWB librarian was presented with a letter handcrafted by the students. Then, the parents fixed lunch for the librarians.


That afternoon, the younger ones of the LWB group engaged in a soccer match with the students. In the evening, the teachers fixed dinner for the group, followed by dancing.


In the spare time, the group toured Xela and traveled to a glass-blowing factory and a textile co-op. The group also spent an afternoon and evening in Panajachel, located on Lake Atitlan, and a day in La Antigua.


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