However we define a community, there will always be those who work untiringly so that community members have access to what often seems to be far away. In this case, books and reading. Librarians play a fundamental role in communities, acting as true intermediaries between books and people, and particularly between the children of a community and children’s literature.
On this occasion, we decided to interview two wonderful librarians from our country. One, from a small town in the province of La Pampa. The other, from the Paraná Delta in San Fernando, province of Buenos Aires.
First, I would like to highlight the reading program “Leer a la sombra” [Read in the Shade], because reading is such a powerful tool. In a province that has some of the most devastating sun and heat in the country, reading can even quench one’s thirst.
As for the second library, I recall the words paraphrased by our interviewee, “We belong to the homeland of popular libraries.”
Librarians, artists, storytellers; they are almost magicians in these places.
(Head Librarian: Gabriel Martino)
Marisa is a poet who studied literature, art education, art therapy and library sciences.
She coordinates the library’s readings programs.
What can you tell us about your work in particular and that of the library in general?
Our library was founded in 1958 by the Felicaria stream and has a bibliolancha [a floating library]. It is the only one in the country and every year, with the support of Conabip, it develops a program of workshops in schools and other facilities in the Delta. Since 2018, it has promoted the Bibliolanchas en red [Network of Floating Libraries] in partnership with floating libraries from Chile and Colombia. Ediciones Genoveva is the publishing house that was founded by the library, and it promotes community participation in writing projects (Mitos que viajan por agua, 2018; Los pájaros, 2019; Bestiario fantástico de islas, 2020). There is also a theater group, a community garden and a network of island vegetable gardens, as well as workshops on island crafts and a canoeing school.
The library works with many island institutions, such as the Taller Haroldo Conti (a workshop coordinated by Fabiana Di Luca), Casa Puente, Biblioteca Seamos Libres, Escuelita Arroyo Caraguatá, among others.
Can you describe the library’s relationship with the children living on the islands?
The relationship is close, since several library participants are also teachers or parents at the island schools. There is a special time of the year around the Poetry at School Festival – the library has participated since 2011.We also lend books at home or through school libraries.
The arrival of the bibliolancha at the school is always an event: sometimes we come with poets, or with artisans to organize a fair and stimulate the transfer of knowledge, such as wicker weaving or the use of bamboo cane. The children are very interested in literature. Some of the most popular books include: Gurí pescador (Osiris Rodríguez Castillo, Editorial Criatura), Tigre (Javier Cófreces and Alberto Muñoz, Ediciones en Danza).
Contracorriente (María Wernicke, Calibroscopio) is the most requested new title, because everyone knows it is the story of what happened in our library when our neighbour Ángel Otazo learned to read and write.
What other tasks do you do for/with your reading and writing community?
The library plays an essential role in the community, which is surrounded by rivers and streams and has no plazas or other public spaces; schools, clubs (there are two) and libraries are the heart of the community. To quote our friend Braian Urban, we like to say that we are the homeland of popular libraries.
Rosana is a librarian and has overseen the library for 26 years. Caleufú is home to approximately 3000 inhabitants.
As a librarian, what do you do for the people?
I provide a full diversity of materials, both printed, audiovisual and electronic. I try to ensure all users to have easy access to all areas of the library. I like and encourage readers to be free to choose the material; I try to offer free and open proposals, and be flexible to their tastes and needs.
We must contribute and create the conditions to develop a social conscience about the importance and the need to work specifically on reading policies, for the exercise of freedom, self-knowledge and respect for life. Today, as a librarian, I face the daily challenge of creating, recreating, selecting and disseminating all the tools produced in the library. We have always worked alongside the educational institutions of the town, responding to their requests, just as they respond to the activities proposed by our institution.
What is the relationship between the youngest children and the library and its activities?
There are children who come to the library to do their homework and groups of children storytellers are formed. They share what they are reading and choose stories for workshops in the kindergartens. Presentations by writers are organized, and the schools, kindergartens and adult groups (Cumelen), as well as inclusion programs, work on the reading material ahead of their visits.
The library must ensure it is present outside of class periods; that is why we take travelling suitcases of books to the vacation camp and the municipal swimming pool during the summer holidays, so that the different groups that attend them can share enjoyable reading materials. This year we joined the Read in the Shade program and took the travelling books to the neighbouring town of Pichi Huinca.
We are planning to distribute the acquired children’s material through readings recorded by young readers.
The National Ministry of Culture is developing a series of literary texts by Argentine authors read by cultural personalities, thus allowing children to listen to stories and poems, even those who do not have access to computers or the Internet. It can be found on the Ministry of Culture’s web page COMPARTIR CULTURA.
Participants include Nicolás Schuff, Sandra Mihanovich, Patricia Suárez, Reynaldo Sietecase, Luis Pescetti, Piñón Fijo, Darío Grandinetti, Eduardo Abel Giménez, Graciela Repún, among others.
We invite you to listen and share them!
Adriana Fernández (Buenos Aires, 1970) graduated from the Instituto Nacional del Profesorado “Joaquín V. González” as a teacher in Spanish, Literature and Latin. She has taught at the Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento (UNGS), the Universidad Nacional de Lomas de Zamora and the Universidad de Buenos Aires. She is the publishing manager of Grupo Planeta in Argentina.