Academic Libraries in Two Hemispheres: Different Cultures and a Shared Vision

  • Mary Wagner College of St. Catherine
  • Kathleen Rickert College of St. Catherine


Two educational institutions, miles apart geographically and culturally, teamed together in a collaborative effort to promote learning, share resources, and deepen cultural appreciation. Since 2000, the College of St. Catherine (CSC), a women's Catholic liberal arts school in St. Paul, Minnesota has sent education and library professionals to the Unidad Academica Campesina (UAC) in a remote area of Bolivia to help develop UAC's library and library services as well as work together on a variety of research projects. The UAC library, with its limited collection and lack of computer technology, serves a severely economically challenged student population. The collaboration between the two schools resulted in modifications and upgrades such as physical expansion and access to closed-stack materials. In addition, a member of the local Carmen Pampa community was selected to be trained as the UAC librarian, who later participated in a six-week internship in the CSC Library. Various barriers presented a number of challenges for those involved in the exchange: cultural differences, communication difficulties due to technology accessibility, geographic distance and cost of travel, language issues, and funding. In spite of the challenges, students and education professionals experienced cross-cultural activities that expanded cultural awareness and appreciation, and deepened and understanding of each country's core library values.

Author Biographies

Mary Wagner, College of St. Catherine
Mary Wagner is Professor and Masters of Library and Information Science Program Director, College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, MN, USA
Kathleen Rickert, College of St. Catherine
Kathleen Rickert is Reference Librarian on the St. Paul campus of the College of St. Catherine, St. Paul, MN, USA