Fairmont Sentinel Online (Fairmont, MN)
Posted on July 2, 2005
By Dave Smith
FAIRMONT -- Visits to Fairmont by Russian librarians are nearly becoming a regular event. The third group of Russian librarians to visit Fairmont as part of the Open World Program spent the week visiting area libraries and other places of interest, like the Martin County Courthouse.
The librarians came to learn how American libraries operate and to share experiences with staff in the Martin County Library System. They also attended the American Library Association Convention in Chicago during their stay.
The four librarians making the visit were Natalya Petrova, senior librarian, Budyonnovsk City Library Network youth department; Olga Kosareva, head of the library department, Pushkin Library non-profit Foundation for Book Publishing; Lyudmila Igusheva, head of research methodology, National Library of Komi Republic; Svetlana Kondratyeva, head of foreign literature, A.K. Yugov Research Library of Kurgan Region; and Natalya Kozichuk, translator and Open World facilitator.
During their time in the United States, the librarians were impressed by a number of things, especially the people.
"The people are very open and kind and we got to see how communities work together in (so many) things," said Igusheva. "And the trip has been good for professional development because we got to see a real library with real people and that was most important."
Petrova also noticed the friendliness of the Americans she met throughout the trip.
"There were a lot of smiling people who always asked, 'How are you?'" she added. "They were always ready to say nice words. No matter where you live the people are the real treasure, and friendship and peace."
When asked about what one thing they would try to take back and implement in their libraries, Kondratyeva gave the same answer as several visitors before her.
"The volunteers," she said quickly. "I want to begin with the university students and get them cataloging. The volunteerism is impressive and the ages of the volunteers -- young and old -- it's great. I want to do this."
Kosareva said she wants to duplicate the interactive aspects she saw used in libraries here.
"Having authors, publishers and illustrators come and talk to the patrons, that's what I want to do," she said. "Another striking thing is how much the U.S. does for disabled and handicapped people."
The group was interested in the concept of a library board to help specifically with library issues and the interaction and help received from local government. The summer reading program was another idea that several in the group liked and think they will implement in their own facilities.
While they were here to see how American libraries operate, they said there are some things that American librarians could learn from them. Igusheva said there are completely different buildings for children's, teen and adult libraries, allowing for a lot of activities for children to take place without disturbing others.
"In the children's and teen libraries we can do stuff for kids. We do a lot of excursions online, and ecological activities. We can probably do some cooperative projects (between libraries) like talking on the Internet or exchanging drawings about how we see the other's country," she said.
Petrova lives in an ethnically diverse region and said her library hosts a number of festivals celebrating different ethnic groups, including their music and costumes.
Kondratyeva said sharing ideas about research related to how different nationalities contribute to an area and its history is something done in Russia that could be done here as well. She said her library is also a place for artists.
"The library is like an exhibition hall for artists, too. We could share those (artists' works). We also include poets," she said. She said the Open World Program makes all of this possible.
"The aim of the Open World Program is to share ideas and experiences. There are libraries here with a lot of great ideas, but the economy is different. We'll take back great ideas, and it is good to come here and have peace and friendship. We can help the world become aware of the rich diversity of the planet."
The librarians were thankful to Martin County Library Director Bryan McCormick for his efforts, and the efforts of everyone who helped make their stay enjoyable.
"He has been sensitive in meeting the needs of each individual," said Kozichuk.
[Reprinted with Permission]