Mt. Pleasant News (Mt. Pleasant, IA)
Posted on July 1, 2005
By Bekah Porter
Ever since Igor Morozov moved from Moscow, Russia, to Wayland, Iowa, in 1993, he has longed to be able to have an authentic Russian conversation. Well, this past Wednesday, Morozov was able to fill his desire simply by going to the Mt. Pleasant Public Library and Civic Center
This past week, the library has received a healthy dose of Russian culture as five Russian librarians have been swarming Henry County in an endeavor to absorb all the information possible to take home and implement in their own country.
So, how exactly did five Russian librarians come to be touring the Mt. Pleasant Public Library, of all places in the United States, as a model of American libraries?
It's pretty simple, actually.
Mt. Pleasant resident Meredith Scott, French teacher at the Mt. Pleasant High School, was more than a little proud of the effort put forth by her community to build the new library and civic center. She was so proud, in fact, that she called her sister, Jeanne Whitney Smith, in Washington, D.C., and bragged about the new library.
Well, it just so happens that Smith is the executive director of the National Peace Foundation. The National Peace Foundation, in conjunction with the Open World Leadership Center, sponsors leaders of all professions from eastern countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and Uzbekistan to come to the United States to observe how their specific professions operate in the United States.
Coinciding with Scott's bragging of the Mt. Pleasant Public Library was Smith's search for a library to show to the group of Russian librarians that were to be coming to the United States.
"While Meredith's bragging might have been what brought (Mt. Pleasant's) library to my attention, we would not have brought the librarians here if we had not felt that it was something special," said Smith. "We were impressed not only with the library's innovative approach to library services, but also by the effort of the community through both public and private volunteerism."
Smith went on to say that the Open World Program also encourages taking those selected for the program on tours through smaller communities.
"This is America's heartland," said Smith, "and the National Peace Organization has found that the strongest elements of democracy can be found in smaller cities. That is where the citizens seem to be most involved."
Mt. Pleasant Public Library Director Gayle Trede feels incredibly honored that the Mt. Pleasant Library was chosen.
"I think that it shows that the community has a great deal of pride in us," said Trede. "I think that it has confirmed that our library has something to be proud of. The fact that we were chosen as a worthy example of an American library shows that it wasn't just our own bias causing us to be proud."
So, with the Mt. Pleasant Public Library on the list of places for the Russian librarians to visit, Margarita Kuvshinova, Natalya Matsneva, Irina Kuznetsova, Natalya Yurkiv and Nataliya Rozhkova hopped on a plane and flew to the United States.
The librarians, who were selected for leadership in their field and their interest in reform through an application process which includes nomination by an American or Russian organization, began their trip in Washington, D.C., at the Library of Congress.
Following a tour of the capital, the librarians arrived in Mt. Pleasant on June 27.
[Reprinted with Permission]