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A successful speaking tour

For Canadians, basic education lasts for at least 11 years and is available to almost the entire population. This fact is so normal that if you asked some young students, they might tell you that they’d prefer it if school was optional. Two weeks ago a special guest speaker from Guatemala reminded us that in other parts of the world, the opportunity to get an education is not guaranteed for all children.

Jorge Chojolán is an internationally recognized educator and speaker who visited Montreal as part of a larger tour of Canada and the United States. He shared the story of how he received an education and the process of creating a school in the primarily indigenous city Xela (pronounced SHAY-la).

Picture of Jorge Cholojan

Jorge Chojolán giving a speech to Montreal area librarians

He began by introducing Guatemala as a land of contrasts. The Country has produced a noble prize winner for literature, Migel Angel Austurias, but also has the lowest literacy rate in Latin America. It is blessed with good soil and abundant natural resources, but 54% of the population lives in poverty. Almost half of the population has indigenous ancestry, but parents refuse to teach their children native languages because an indigenous language accent is a cause for discrimination.

Amidst this background of societal contrasts, Jorge is working to promote education and tolerance through his non-profit school. The Austurias Academy has a unique funding model: it relies on a combination of donations and grants to subsidize student tuition. This model allows the school to provide an education which is of higher quality education than that offered in the overcrowded public schools, but which is far more affordable than the private schools in the country.

Librarians Without Borders is proud to be part of this remarkable educational experience.

A rapt audience listens to Jorge's speech.

A rapt audience listens to Jorge’s speech.


December 6, 2012 at 1:36 am Leave a comment

Libraries and Education Speaking Tour: November 2012

Jorge Chojolán – an internationally recognized social entrepreneur, educator, and human rights activist – was born into the indigenous Mayan community in the deeply inequitable society of Guatemala. Despite the barriers before him, he rose to achieve a university degree and went on to found the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy in the predominantly indigenous city of Quetzaltenango. His goal is to transform his society through education, via this school, by educating and empowering some of Guatemala’s most vulnerable children: girls, the indigenous and the poor.

The McGill Student Committee of Librarians Without Borders is pleased to welcome Mr. Chojolán to Montreal for three public speaking events. Mr. Chojolán will discuss the importance of education to democracy in Guatemala and speak about the Academy’s unique educational model. Please RSVP using this form.

We encourage you to join us and hear his inspiring story!

1. Libraries and education in Guatemala

When: Monday, November 19, 2012,
Time: 6:00-8:00 pm  (Light refreshments will be served)
Where: McGill campus, Thomson House ballroom, 3650 rue McTavish

Generously co-sponsored by L’Association des bibliothécaires du Québec Library/Quebec Library Association.

2. Indigenous issues and human rights in Guatemala

When: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Time: 12:00-1:30 pm  (Lunch will be served)
Where: McGill campus, Peterson Hall, room 116, 3460 rue McTavish

Generously co-sponsored by The Centre for Society, Technology and Development (STANDD) at McGill University.

3. Education in Guatemala and Asturias’ unique curriculum, based on Paulo Freire’s philosophy

When: Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Time: 6:00-8:00 pm
Where: Hall building, 1455 De Maisonneuve Blvd (Concordia University). Room number to be confirmed

Generously co-sponsored by the Department of Education and the Loyola College of Sustainability and Diversity at Concordia University

Everyone is welcome!
The presentations will be delivered in Spanish and simultaneously translated into English. If you have any questions about the event, please write a note on the Facebook event page or contact us using the form on this page.

October 30, 2012 at 12:35 am Leave a comment

The Library School Social was a Hit!

This year’s library school social was a big success both as a fundraiser and as a mixer. There were faces from SIS and EBSI, along with those of past MLIS grads and librarians form various parts of our community. We want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped make the event happen.

Thanks to each person who came out and helped support us by purchasing raffle tickets and by lending us your big smiles. You made it a great night! Special thanks to Christine, Parvaneh and their team from the Multilingual Children’s Library for all their hard work. It was great working with you MCL 🙂

We also want to thank all of our sponsors who provided us with a plethora of amazing prizes. It was very generous of them and I know a lot of people went home with some pretty sweet stuff. A list of those who sponsored the event is provided below, along with links to help you find out more about them.

October 10, 2012 at 1:40 am Leave a comment

Upcoming Fall 2011 Event!

Fall 2011 Event

The ABQLA College and Research Libraries Section is pleased to announce their fall kickoff event! In collaboration with the McGill student committee of Librarians Without Borders, we will be hosting this event on Wednesday, September the 21st at 5:30 p.m. at the School of Information Studies in room 106, 3661 Peel St.

The group will be discussing their recent service learning trip to Quetzaltenango Guatemala, where they volunteered at the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy. Librarians Without Borders has been active at McGill for several years, and has been working to create and support a library at the Asturias Academy. For this most recent trip to Guatemala, the McGill chapter partnered with other student chapters from across Canada to develop library programming, build the school library collection and work to integrate library resources into the curriculum.

Please come to learn more about Librarians Without Borders and the Miguel Angel Asturias Academy. Refreshments will be served, and there will be time for questions and discussion after the event. We look forward to seeing you there!

Please RSVP to Lindsey Sikora at by September 20th, 2011.

September 10, 2011 at 12:32 am Leave a comment

[LWB News] Call for Applications: Librarian, Miguel Angel Asturias Academy

Call for Applications:

Librarian, Miguel Angel Asturias Academy, Quetzaltenango Guatemala

Reading for Change: Build a love of reading in Guatemalan children

Position Description:
As librarian, you will be responsible for planning library activities for students ages 4-18. Past activities have included read-aloud time and independent reading, as well as familiarization with the library and research methods. The librarian is responsible for maintaining the library, keeping records of books borrowed and returned, building a “wish list” for further expansion, leading library class for students, and assisting teachers with how they might better utilized the library in their classes. Outside of the library, the librarian attends one weekly meeting, and participates in school field trips and activities (such as recess). Once a month, you will submit a “blog post” of your experience at the school. This position is very rewarding, as you will work directly with students, but can also be challenging. We are a private nonprofit school serving very low income families. As such, our resources and staffing are limited. This position requires you to be friendly, outgoing, patient, a quick learner and culturally flexible.

[Como bibliotecario, estarás encargado de planear actividades en la biblioteca para estudiantes de edades 4-18. Actividades en el pasado han incluido lectura de alto voz, lectura independiente, y familiarización de la biblioteca y como hacer investigaciones. La bibliotecario esta responsable para mantener la biblioteca y manejar los libros prestados, desarrollar un listado de “deseos” para aumentar la colección de libros, y ensenar la clase en la biblioteca y ayudar a los maestros en cómo pueden utilizar la biblioteca. Afuera de la biblioteca, el bibliotecario asiste a una reunión cada semana y participar en actividades escolares y viajes escolares. Una vez al mes, entregas un “blog post” de tus experiencias. Esta posición da mucha satisfacción, así que estás trabajando directamente con estudiantes, pero también puede ser difícil. Somos un colegio no-lucrativo con estudiantes y familias de pocos recursos. Así que también nuestros recursos están limitados. Debes ser amable, paciente, aprendes rápido y flexible culturalmente. Debes hablar español muy bien, preferible tener experiencia en bibliotecas y alfabetización, experiencias en América Latina y en trabajo de desarrollo social.]

Desirable skills: Spanish language fluency (reading, written and oral), library experience, experience with low-literacy youth, experience in Latin American countries, experience in limited resourced and staffed environments.

Required: Passport, independent accommodations, laptop

Position duration: January 1, 2012-October 31, 2012, 40 hours/week
13 Calle 24-43 Zona 3, Quetzaltenango, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, CA

To Apply:
Please send cover letter, resume and contacts for 3-5 references to Jorge Chojolan at

For more information contact:
Jorge Chojolan
(502) 5757-6380

More about the Asturias Academy:

Miguel Angel Asturias Academy is a private, non-profit Pre K-12 school in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, founded in 1994 to eliminate education disparities through subsidized tuition, and create informed, critically-thinking, socially conscious citizens through its curriculum.

By creating a library to serve students, their families and the surrounding community, the Asturias Academy hopes to foster a love of reading and ultimately shift societal attitudes toward literacy and education. Since 2009, the Asturias Academy has partnered with Librarians Without Borders in the development of the library. Librarians Without Borders members participated in a service learning trip in April 2010, working in the library and bringing with them books and plans. In April 2011, Librarians Without Borders representatives visited the Academy a second time to continue the project by expanding the library’s collection, programming, and services to eventually serve the wider community of Xela. To read more visit:


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September 6, 2011 at 1:08 am Leave a comment

2011 Trip Blog

This year, 7 students from the Librarians Without Borders (LWB) McGill Student Committee will be traveling to Guatemala as part of a group of 27 LWB members to do service work with the Asturias Academy. Follow their trip blog from April 22 – May 3, 2011 here:

April 20, 2011 at 1:04 am Leave a comment

“McGill Librarians Without Borders: International Librarianship Initiatives” Article in inFocus Magazine

Hello folks,

Just wanted to let you know that McGill’s School of Information Studies recently published their Fall 2010 inFocus newsletter, which features an article on last year’s LWB trip to visit the Asturias Academy in Guatemala (pages 10-11) and a nod from the school’s Director, France Bouthillier on page 2 in herMessage from the Director column.  Very glad that we have the support of the library school at McGill!
Here’s the link:
Happy Holidays!

December 17, 2010 at 4:08 am Leave a comment

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Librarians Without Borders is a non-profit organization that strives to improve access to information resources regardless of language, geography, or religion, by forming partnerships with community organizations in developing regions.

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Librarians Without Borders is not in any way affiliated with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders. Doctors Without Borders is a registered trade-mark of Bureau International de Médecins Sans Frontière

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