Colombian Delegates Visit ALA Washington Office

Last week, Marijke and I had the pleasure of hosting a delegation of librarians from Colombia. These librarians are participants in the International Visitor Leadership Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, and they are all involved in overall management and policymaking in both government and private libraries in Colombia.

Colombian Librarians

OITP Staffers Alan Inouye (pictured second from left) and Marijke Visser (pictured third from left) with Colombian librarian delegates.

Last week, Marijke Visser (Assistant Director, ALA Office for Information Technology Policy) and I had the pleasure of hosting a delegation of librarians from Colombia. These librarians are participants in the International Visitor Leadership Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, and they are all involved in overall management and policymaking in both government and private libraries in Colombia.

The State Department outlined specific objectives for the visit. Delegates came to the ALA Washington Office to:

  • Explore the role and functions of libraries and information specialists in U.S. society;
  • Learn about the latest advances in how information technology is being used in libraries, including online and digital services;
  • Examine how U.S. libraries are reaching out to local communities, including the use of volunteers and outreach to children and underserved populations; and
  • Learn about public/private partnerships and cultivating donor support.

We enjoyed a wide-ranging discussion on these topics. Some of the time was devoted to explaining how ALA itself works and whether anything learned in the U.S. might be applicable to Colombia. Not surprisingly, a goodly portion of our time together focused on the future–which means digital content, services, and technology–and how libraries are evolving to meet the opportunities and challenges presented by the knowledge revolution.

Although the purpose of the visit was to provide information to the Colombian librarians, we also learned from the experience. In particular, it was striking how their issues and challenges parallel ours in so many ways… and now we are quite intrigued with Colombia and have to figure out a way to visit them!

About Alan Inouye

Alan S. Inouye is the director of ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy. Previously, he was the coordinator of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee in the Executive Office of the President and a study director at the National Academy of Sciences. Alan completed his Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley.

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