Welcome to our second interview we make as part of our series:
Interviews with Sister Libraries.
This time the library to be featured is from Spain. The Arucas Municipal Library is located in Gran Canaria, one of the Canary Islands, Spain. It was one of the first Spanish libraries to participate in the programme, and it is the sister of the Polish Municipal Public Library in Piekary Slaskie. As you will remember, its director, Aleksandra Zawalska-Hawel, was the first interviewee in this Section. You can read the interview here.
You have already read some posts on the activities of the Arucas Municipal Library, and now we are interviewing Loly León, Head of the Library. We have opened a new section for the interviews, which you can see in the upper menu, called Interviews, where we will include all the interviews published so far. Enjoy them!
–Well, first of all, how did you hear of the sister libraries programme and what motivated you to participate?
I knew about this program through the public distribution list. We subscribed immediately because we found it very interesting, especially because of the international cooperation possibilities it offers.
-Please, tell us a bit more about the community you serve. In your form one of the things that attracts attention is that you have storytelling sessions in English and Spanish? Do you serve a large foreign population? What is the community you serve like?
Arucas is a municipality located in the north of the island of Gran Canaria which has about 37,000 inhabitants. Due to its proximity and ease of communication with the island’s capital, is chosen for many young families as their place of residence.
There are also more and more people from other countries who choose Arucas as their residence. In particular, many Chinese people.
-Your library is a very active one. If you “google” its name in Spanish you will get many results of your library activities and campaigns featured in different webs and local newspapers. Can you tell us a bit more of the activities your library is usually involved in?
We carry out an extensive program of cultural activities for all audiences. For younger audiences, every Friday there is a different workshop: stories, crafts, treasure hunts. For adults, we organize courses, workshops and users education activities. We have four book clubs that meet regularly: there are two groups for adults, one for children and another for the youth. We usually carry out many activities coordinated with other city departments: environment, sports, local art schools.
– Your sister library is the Municipal Public Library in Piekary Slaskie from Poland, the most active library so far in the programme, whose director we interviewed a few weeks ago. Was it difficult to make a selection from the list of participating libraries? How you found many differences in the way public libraries work in the two countries?
In reality, it was not difficult. There were personal matters that influenced me to focus on Piekary Slaskie and seek information about this library. Given the similarities between the characteristics of the library and the type of population, the decision was very quick.
In our visit to Poland we found some differences in the technical process of the holdings and in the opening hours. And also in their administration, as our library depends on a local corporation.
Regarding cultural activities, Piekary Slaskie concentrates most of the cultural offerings of the environment, which in the case of Arucas is shared with other cultural facilities such as the MunicipalMuseum, art schools, etc.
– Which advantages do you find for a public library to be involved in international cooperation with other libraries, be it in a programme like NAPLE Sister Libraries, or any other?
The advantages are technical and human, and can be applied to small details seen in the arrangement of the documents or to services we had not covered that are highly valued by users.
– You have both a blog and a Facebook profile, what advantages do you find in both of them for the relations with the library users? How have you used them to cooperate with your NAPLE Sister Library and/or promote or to give news on your activities? Are you thinking of using more social networks (like Twitter and Youtube, etc)…?
We use Facebook frequently to promote our respective activities and also those we have done together, like the collective reading on the occasion of the World Book Day or the workshop of fairytale illustration held simultaneously in both libraries.
– Since the main objective of any public library is the service to the community, we would like to know what the reactions of your users to having a sister library have been?
The users’ feedback is very positive. The Canaries has a great tradition of openness to the international world.
– What was the experience to visit your sister library in Poland like? You were accompanied by the Arucas Culture Councillor in this visit, how important do you feel it is the relation between politicians and libraries in a municipality like yours?
For a municipal library, the political support is very important. The understanding from the city councillor facilitates enormously the work we do.
– What kind of materials have you interchanged so far?
We have exchanged books, information and tourism brochures, and library user guides.
– What would you say to any librarian who is thinking of the possibility of joining the programme?
I would not think twice, it’s very rewarding.
Thank you very much, Loly!
Links for the Arucas Municipal Library: