Open Journal Systems

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

Mary Wagner, Kathleen Rickert


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.

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