Must See TV

I’m so glad I caught the following announcement on @ PaperTigers in time to view the broadcast this evening on my local PBS station!

An Inspired Elementary School Teacher Launches a Revolution in Reading For Colombia’s Rural Children in POV’s “Biblioburro: The Donkey Library”, Premiering Tuesday, July 19, 2011, on PBS

Donated Books, Two Donkeys and One Determined Man Refashion the Bookmobile For a Region Better Known for Guns, Drugs and Poverty

A Co-­presentation With Latino Public Broadcasting


Watch the full episode. See more POV.

Luis Soriano is surely the most famous resident of La Gloria, a small town in a rural area of northern Colombia plagued by poverty, crime and armed insurrection. But Soriano’s fame has little to do with guns, drugs or politics. His reputation rests on the eight hooves of two sturdy donkeys named Alfa and Beto, his own two feet and his willingness to spend weekends tramping through rugged and dangerous backcountry. These are the components of a simple but brilliant idea using donkeys to bring a circulating library of donated books to the children in some of Colombia’s poorest and most remote towns and villages.

Carlos Rendón Zipagauta’s new documentary, Biblioburro: The Donkey Library, tells the story of 39-year-old Soriano and his traveling library from the point of view of the man himself and, one might say, his two hardworking burros. The film rides along with Soriano on one of his arduous weekend rounds and discovers a world of dense tropical beauty, nearly impassible trails, dangers both natural (snakes, swollen streams) and human (guerillas, bandits), open-air classrooms and, most wonderfully, a thirst for reading and knowledge. But Biblioburro is also a portrait of Soriano — an unassuming, small-town elementary school teacher who not only had a great idea, but has been acting on it every weekend for over a decade

Biblioburro provides a bracingly up-close sense of the determination and hard work required to saddle up each Saturday in the early morning darkness, and the sheer nerve and patience — not always expressed quietly by man or donkey — needed to brave Colombia’s poor and violence-torn hinterlands. Why would a man, and his family, persist in bearing such a burden? It soon becomes clear that Soriano is bringing more than books to the education-starved children of northern Colombia. He is bringing a gospel of education as the way the members of the next generation can transform their troubled country and their lives.

Supporting School Libraries

A growing trend is for various types of librarians to collaborate to form and serve larger communities. You may find school librarians working academic libraries to better prepare high school students for college research. School librarians work with public librarians so that students can have a wider variety of research materials and become familiar with the public librarian who work in their local community. Librarians may also work with archivists or museum librarians to add another dimension to an exhibit or program. Remember libraries aren’t just about books, they’re about helping community members find and use information. I love finding community members who want to work with the school library and one such community member is Laura of Biblauargraphy. Easy to do when we share a love of reading and a genuine concern for young people.

Growing up, Laura traveled the world as part of an embassy family, but today she’s settled in beautiful Boston, Massachusetts. She is currently the Children’s Librarian at an urban library branch, where she works with children and teens of all ages and serves on the Young Adult selection team for the Boston Public Library. Laura’s recent post is a review of newly released Efrain’s Secret by Sofia Quitero!

Thanks for the interview, Laura!

1. Librarians are people we either love or hate. Which was it with you and your librarian? Explain please!
Loved!  She was friendly, welcoming, and a great resource – especially on the big research papers.  I definitely would not have finished my Faulkner tern paper without her.  Since I went to school overseas, the library at my German/American school was one of the few places that I could find books in English, so my school librarian was a big book supplier in my high school days.

2. What is your strongest memory about your school library?

My friend and I would spend free periods sitting on the couches by the periodicals.  It was definitely the best spot in the school for just hanging out.

3. School libraries are changing a lot! What is one thing you think should never change?

A school library should always be the center of the school – academically and socially.  It’s one of the few places in most schools that crosses grade and subject lines and helps turn the school into a community of learners.  (Also – and I think this one pretty much goes without saying – don’t take away the books!)

4. Should students be taught to use print encyclopedias and dictionaries?

Absolutely.  I think using the print versions of these reference sources reinforces necessary skills.  At this point I think it’s still much easier to get a full understanding of what an encyclopedia is and does by carefully looking at one then by searching one online.  And the skills you gain when you are familiar with these basic references can be carried over not only to the online or database versions of encyclopedias and dictionaries, but also to other print resources.  It’s definitely important to have a balance of both print and online/database resources.

5. Should students be fined for overdue books?

I think kids should learn to be accountable for their library materials, so I’m ok with fines within reason.  However, I think the librarian should be able (and willing!) to be flexible and to work with kids to make sure that no one is kept from being able to take out materials just because they can’t pay a fine.

6. You’ve got enough money to buy three classroom sets of books to donate to a high school. What would they be?
Depends on the school!

But I’m going to pick _Chameleon_ by Charles R. Smith, _Dairy Queen_ by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch, and _Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood_ by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

7. Complete the following: “Every school library should have a ____”

Smiling, certified school librarian!

Grants for Libraries

The One World: Connecting Communities, Cultures, and Classrooms Program teaches
students fundamentals in diversity, respect for others, and building communities. The
lessons help children develop skills to promote empathy, dialogue, and respect. The
program includes a Student Journey Book that provide extensions and a deeper
exploration of the lessons topics. All lessons and support tools are available online for
download. To learn more, visit
Grant Opportunity
Summary: The Association for Library Service to Children is funding, “Light the
Way: Outreach to the Underserved,” honoring a library conducting exemplary
outreach to underserved populations, such as children with physical or learning
disabilities or who speak English as a second language.
Due Date: December 3, 2007
Award Amount: $5,000