Saturday, 13 October 2018

National Congress of Public Libraries, in Bogotá

Between September 17 and 21, the VI National Congress of Public Libraries took place in Bogotá, Colombia.

Our brother Alfredo Mires Ortiz was invited to give the inaugural lecture and hold meetings and workshops.There were more than 1,300 participants linked to public libraries from all corners of this country. The conference entitled "From librarians: books, reading and community processes", left deep reflections among the attending public.

Alfredo referred to the catastrophes that today, he said, "end up being one: on the one hand, what we could call environmental climate change and, on the other, the terrible mental climate change"; "It is not only the tree that falls," he said, "but the spirit that collapses; it is not only the forest that burns, but the soul that is shaken; it is not only the river that is contaminated, but also the dream that is mutilated."

He called us to the challenge of "reviewing deeply in order to transmute the insanity of destruction and violence, in the midst of the madness to re-read the world and embrace it. To believe in the rarity of the impossible and in the ability to put ourselves in the skin of the other."

He made important interjections from different vantage points, for different audiences: he spoke to the public official, to those who run the libraries and to those who work in them day to day; to those who read and those who encourage others to do so. He asked after what is valued, for what is believed, he questioned those who have forgotten and the colonized; he spoke to the submissive and the uncritical.

He inquired about "the principles we evoke in our work" and asked: "What is the role of the public library with the people? With whom is your obligation: with the building or with the community where the building is located? Put another way: is your commitment to the area of the building or the building of the area? And if so, does the librarian know the people and needs of their community, or are they just customs officers of information and knowledge? What is their promise with their own culture? In short, why and for what is done what is done?

Without reservations he mentioned the tricks of the prevailing system: "Because the hegemonic power is also responsible for rocking us the cradle of forgetfulness and erase the traces of memory. Proof of this may be the history we give through our libraries: the mere fact that the subjects never act as authors, reveals the political manipulation of the past, especially in our continent where, for more than five hundred years, the colonial has forged different forms of internal despotism."

Likewise, Alfredo did not fail to mention his wise teachers, such as Don Antonio Vílchez and Mama Santos.He spoke of the importance of seeking and restoring ties: "Recognizing and distinguishing the marrow of the people could wake us; and re-coupling the bones of our native land is vital to begin walking."

He shared his brilliant idea about librarians: "he who makes books and reading a source so energetic and pleasant that it gives out a scent and attracts those who want to feed themselves to keep flying. (...) inspire the passion of reading books to see the world clearly. Because the action of the librarian is pollinating: it fertilizes both the one who gives and the one who receives. The library is not a cage: it is a space in which the social function is reinvented in a community consecration,"

To end his presentation, he said:

"We can go to the library to learn a thousand careers independent of grades, with emancipated appetite and with the certainty that the lesson is joyful and solidary, regardless of the pecuniary benefit.

That is why we also have to create our own writings. And with greater reason we must look to the lineage that has kept us alive: the invisibility and forbidden knowledge of our peoples; the unburied memory that does not appear in books; the oral tradition of muted mouths; the unsubmissive stories; the perennial memory; the negated knowledge; the stubborn survival of the barefoot letter. In the end, it is not to rescue the past: it is to recover the future."

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Lino on the journey

I am Lino Gálvez Blanco, from the El Ahijadero community, in the district of Bambamarca, province of Hualgayoc.

I have known the Rural Libraries for about 28 years, although it has not been continuous; I was a librarian for a time and afterwards I have resumed as coordinator.

For me, reading is learning, the value of self-education, information, training and knowing our reality, what we live, as well as knowing literature.

Having books in the library or going to the library is self-love, self-esteem, training. It gives energy for good behaviour, for its own sake. It is also to value literature and be together with books.

Currently there is a neglect of reading, both for adults and young people. They are caught by too much television and cell phone; that takes their time. For students in schools and colleges there are books, but another thing is cultural, experiential or communal literature. What comes from books for tasks only means to take the books of the State and with that to examine a subject, according to them. But another thing is the experience of Andean literature.

The challenge would be to reach communities and also educational institutions, work with youth to read what is our reality, about what is ours, read those who wrote about Andean nature, our customs, our communities, first of all.

A pleasant visit

Maurizio is a four-year-old boy who visited us a few weeks ago to learn about our Network's premises.

As part of the homework that he has to begin at an early age, he had to go to a library and see how the books are organized; For this reason, his family got in touch with us and, that same afternoon, Maurizio was received at our central base.

His presence encouraged us a lot, not only because he is interested in knowing more about the world of books, but also because of his interest in learning how books are prepared from our Exchange Center to the communities.

Encouraged by our sister Nathalia, Maurizio reviewed the stories and even placed stamps on some copies. Very good, Maurizio volunteer!

This pleasant visit also encourages us to maintain hope: in our country we can all do things better if we encourage the little ones to read and become familiar with reading as early as possible.

Workshop in Masintranca

In the month of August we returned to the Cristo Rey school in Masintranca, in the province of Chota, where a conversation and a workshop on education and reading took place, which our colleague Alfredo offered to students and professors of the institution.

There was a moment to reflect on reading as a tool that stimulates brain development, creativity and divergent thinking, but also the importance of the permanent practice of reading to achieve well-being, happiness and to foster encounters with other ideas, people and universes.

We encourage students to continue reading books: read in different places, read alone, read as a family, read to their grandparents and their siblings.

Always read to understand the world and its reality.

News for the life of the Andes

From the Western world and the many regions colonized by this system, voices arrive that speak of the so-called "sacrificial territories" or spaces converted into deposits of polluting waste in places where ancestral peoples live - that because they are removed from the neighborhoods and powerful sectors and because they have a historical lack of protection by laws and the state, they are victims of the poisoning of water, land, crops and the atmosphere. News loaded with urban soot, accumulation of garbage, extinct species, trees felled, fruits and food spoiled by acid rains, oil spills, fumigation with glyphosate, pests, drought; by the unconsciousness and greed of the powerful, by the apathy and blindness of the people …

We are clear that the West reaches the Andean world in many ways: extractive companies and many others that pollute the water, kill the life and vigour of the lands and their inhabitants. Also, by the extension (via educational system, mass media and social networks, among others) of a way of life made of a modernizing entanglement: predator of the earth, exploiter and carrier of the historical extermination of the connection with nature.

Fortunately, the Andean world still has many planetary lessons to give:

In the Cajamarcan countryside, constructions balanced with nature persist, using materials typical of the region, in accordance with environmental and climatic conditions.

Many of our Andean breeding communities do not enter the devastating circle of consumerism: buying, using, dumping.

They do not use plastic bags because they have their saddlebags, pullos, quipes and guayacas.

In their farms they cultivate and mix the plants that are the daily food on their tables.

Ollucos, ocas, sweet potatoes, corn, potatoes, barley, quinoa, kiwicha, beans, among many other Andean foods survive.

They raise their animals.

They care and revere their puquios (water springs)

They revere and read their sacred mountains.

The South American Andes know of the life and the joy that the agricultural world has, simple and powerful, capable of saying and announcing that there are many paths to walk and retrace; that solidarity always gives us more, that being together will be better than acclaiming individuality, that the premise is to take care of our earth, to live in communion and in connection with all the beings that inhabit all the worlds.

Nathalia Quintero

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Recognition II

As part of the celebrations for the 197th anniversary of institutional life, the National Library of Peru awarded the "Jorge Basadre Grohmann" Recognition to Alfredo Mires Ortiz, executive advisor of the Network of Rural Libraries of Cajamarca. The ceremony of recognition to illustrious diffusers and disseminators of reading took place on 28th August.

The Minister of Culture Patricia Balbuena was in charge of delivering the recognition. I attended on behalf of Alfredo to receive the reminder plaque and the chief resolution in which this distinction materialized.

Alfredo, our beloved Ñaupa, was recognized for his contribution to the promotion of libraries and for the promotion of reading that he has been doing for many years, when he decided to accompany the pioneering initiative of R.P. John Medcalf, and they went about involving more and more peasants from Cajamarca, gradually involving more and more communities.

With slogans such as: "Rise and read with me, my brother"; "Read reveals and rebels"; "Reading we are stronger", the Network of Rural Libraries became established in the Cajamarcan countryside and became a tool for the defense of cultural identity and fundamental rights.

The footprints that Alfredo continues to leave in his wake are traces that show a non-negotiable commitment with rural libraries, with the countryside, with Cajamarcan culture: they are traces that will continue to accompany the men and women of Cajamarca.

Congratulations, Alfredo, for this well-deserved recognition.

Gabriela Hidalgo

Volunteer of the Network

Reading and healing

At the beginning of September, the coordinators of the Community Program met in good spirits for the last training this year.

The variety of the themes addressed meant that we did not feel how difficult learning can be, especially if our main task is the farm. We passed through a morning of physical rehabilitation techniques for children with cerebral palsy, noting that the most important thing is and always will be our effort, our creativity and perseverance in this task.

We shared the film The King's Speech, which shows the difficulties of a monarch who suffers from stuttering and how he manages to overcome them. Together we also learned to improve the feeding of children with projected capacities, enriching the meals with quinoa, peanuts and vegetables from the orchards. Then we enjoyed the dishes prepared together for a rich meal in community.

The presentation of Alfredo Mires with the theme Reading for others taught us the value of reading as a healing element. We already imagine the children of the Program listening to stories hoisted in the arms of their parents. We are convinced that this combination of wisdom and tenderness can open doors and worlds in the context of rehabilitation.

With a reading circle of our own edition of The Right to Essence, we affirm our knowledge and our position regarding the theme of the Rights of the Child.

I wish learning could always be a party like this, for all the children and adults of the world.