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Something Needs to Be Done About Mexico's Empty Libraries, Says Expert

Mexico News Daily
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August 7, 2014
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Puebla's Palafox Library, the oldest in the Americas, appears rather empty

When Helen Ladrón de Guevara flies off to France later this month, she’s hoping that an international seminar on developing library collections will be the outcome.

One of Mexico’ leading experts on libraries, Ladrón de Guevara is a member of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, which will meet in Lyon, France from August 16-22.

She intends to propose the seminar for the benefit of public and university libraries, many of which do not cater to the needs of the people. Evidence of this is empty libraries, she says.

Libraries in communities in Europe get a lot more use. “You go at any hour of the day and they are full. And I go to whatever state library (in Mexico) and they are empty for hours. They lack the services that are needed so that the the community feels the library is a central hub for information, for recreational and cultural activity.”

The challenge, says Ladrón de Guevara, is to provide the best services, with professional people, and to understand the needs of the community in order to translate them into services for everyone, from the most humble to the most well off.

She credits the National Council for Culture and the Arts (Conaculta) for its major efforts in establishing the National Library Program, but laments the fact that it doesn’t realistically address the needs of citizens.

An ambitious program introduced in 1984 has resulted in Mexico having the largest public library system in Latin America. Each state capital has a public library, as does every town with more than 5,000 people, according to CareerLibrarian.com.

But as Ladrón de Guevara says, they’re not very useful when empty.

See the original at Mexico News Daily

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