Russian Library Managers Visit LC and U.S.
|Mitch Freedman, president of the American Library Association, welcomed library leaders from Komi and Sakha Republics and Kemerovo Region to the 2003 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, Jan. 24-29|
This was the first of four large library delegations that Open World will bring to the United States in 2003. Each will visit LC before attending a major library-related event (such as the National Book Festival) and then traveling to a host community for site visits, meetings, and seminars with local library leaders.
The overarching goal of these exchanges is to enable top library managers from across Russia to examine the role of libraries in a civil society with their American counterparts. Participants were nominated by the Russian Ministry of Culture, the Russian Library Association, Open Society Institute, and the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
G. Jaia Barrett of the Association of Research Libraries started off the January group’s LC visit with a lively question-and-answer session about access to information. Digital project coordinator Linda White’s demonstration of the “Ask a Librarian” virtual reference service generated interest, as did the presentation by “Meeting of Frontiers” historian and content manager David Nordlander. Delegates also heard from Pat May of ALA’s Washington office about the Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, which was the next stop on their U.S. itinerary.
After lunch, the Russians fanned out for specialized talks about LC collections and programs. Anne Boni of the Center for the Book discussed reading promotion with the Sakha Republic’s deputy minister of culture and two Siberian library administrators; Harold Leich reviewed the European Division’s Russian collection with research managers, including the editor of St. Petersburg Library School magazine; Robert Morgan of the SSCD/CEEL team met with district library directors; Robin Gallender of the Copyright Office briefed city library administrators and a cultural official from the western region of Lipetsk; and Clark Evans showed some of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division’s American and Russian holdings to two of his Russian counterparts and the head of a Moscow library’s collection of samizdat (Soviet-era underground writings).
Children’s and young adult library managers looked at Prints and Photographs Division items with Beverly Brannan; university library directors discussed the Office of Scholarly Programs with Robert Saladini; and cultural and outreach specialists toured both American and World Treasures with Cheryl Regan of the Interpretive Programs Office.
Gary Fitzpatrick of the Geography and Map Division met with heads of library marketing and planning departments; Kathy Woodrell of the Humanities and Social Sciences Division discussed the Main Reading Room operations for three library administrators; and Yasmeen Khan conducted a tour of the Preservation Office for public library managers, among whom was the host of a local Russian television show called “At the Bookshelf.”
While at the ALA Midwinter Meeting, the delegates enjoyed touring the exhibits and being welcomed by ALA President Mitch Freedman.
Next, the delegates traveled in small groups to nine different mid-Atlantic communities for four-day professional programs conducted by academic and public libraries. For example, delegates visiting Rutgers University as guests of Associate Dean and ALA Past President Betty J. Turock were to meet with the heads of major New Jersey professional library associations and to appear on a community cable television broadcast from the East Brunswick Library’s in-house studio. Activities planned for the delegation visiting the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport included participation in a roundtable discussion of distance education and in library instruction for a small-business class.
Now in its fifth year, Open World has provided an in-depth introduction to American political, civic, and cultural life to 6,000 emerging Russian leaders. Last year’s program was the largest ever, with more than 2,500 visitors. As of 2002, Open World has hosted participants from all 89 Russian regions in all 50 states. Russian commercial court judges, election officials, women business owners, and environmental activists were among the many representatives of the new Russia to come to the United States through Open World in 2002. Pending final action on its FY2003 appropriations, Open World will shortly release grant guidelines for 2003 hosting of civic and governmental delegations.
[Reprinted with Permission]