Last week, the American Library Association (ALA) was pleased to host a delegation of librarians from Belarus. These visitors are invited to the United States under the auspices of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) of the U.S. Department of State. The delegation included Ms. Oksana Knizhnikova, Minsk Regional Library; Ms. Rafeyeva Maryna, Gomel Regional Universal Library; Ms. Tatsiana Nalobina, Brest Regional Library; and Ms. Natalia Stankevich, Tavlay Central City (Baranovichi) Library.
The discussion was wide ranging. We talked about trends in information technology in U.S. libraries, such as ebooks, networking, and spaces for creating content. Access to digital information from the government was discussed, as was the organization and funding of the library sector of Belarus (so, yes, we learned some stuff too). A particular interest of the guests is the role of ALA in the library community (the comparable association in Belarus was founded only in 1992), including ALA’s advocacy roles and international activities.
The IVLP brings rising leaders to the U.S. on a three week professional program. The objectives for this delegation are:
- To examine the role and function of libraries and information specialists in U.S. society;
- To explore the importance of community-based partnerships and strategies for promoting sustainability in American libraries; and
- To demonstrate the diversity of library services and to explore the impact of new advancements in digital and online technologies on various types of libraries.
The next stop for the delegation is Portland, Oregon.
The ALA representatives in this meeting were Alan S. Inouye, Jessica McGilvray, and Nick Gross. We thoroughly enjoyed the time together and look forward to future meetings with representatives from around the world as we fulfill one of the responsibilities of the Washington Office—to represent ALA and U.S. libraries with international delegations.