Dana Young travels with Librarians Without Borders this springby Jan Janes on Mar 3, 2017
Dana Young, Gavilan College librarian, will fly to Guatemala in April with Librarians Without Borders (LWB) to support the group's work bringing books to low-income schoolchildren.
Since 2009, LWB has sent teams of librarians to the Asturias Academy in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala to remedy a lack of books in the educational system. Books in that country are taxed and 75% of the population lives in poverty. Without access to books, low-income children do not have the opportunity to read. Each year the program works to expand the library's collection in order to serve the entire city.
Dana Young works with a Gavilan College student at the library reference desk.
Her interest was piqued by the program last year, but she chose not to apply. Young thought her lack of fluency in Spanish would disqualify her. She discovered the volunteer recruitment for the 2017 program specifically stated that Spanish was not a prerequisite. Young applied after receiving support and approval from head librarian Doug Achterman and new VP of Academic Affairs Michele Bresso. Only to have her application wait-listed.
"I just took that to mean 'no'," said Young, glad she had told only a few people about her application. But by the end of the week, a formal invitation was extended.
The power of libraries to change lives
She credits her spot on the team to three reasons: she is a second-generation librarian, she is an evangelist for the idea of equal access to information, and she believes in the power of libraries to change lives.
LWB is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Ontario, Canada that partners with community, educational and nonprofit institutions to improve access to information in developing countries.
Young has traveled abroad, notably to Thailand, Malaysia and Peru. She describes the best travel experiences as those where she gained insights into the daily lives of the people in the countries she visited.
The 2017 LWB team, assembled from volunteers across North America, will spend 11 days immersed in the local community, eating with families, managing the technical materials processing and getting the local teachers prepared for ways the new books can be used for instruction. In advance, three virtual LWB team planning sessions will familiarize the volunteers with each other, their skill sets and the project's goals for the year.
Coincidentally, even before her LWB application, Young had enrolled in Spanish 1A for Spring 2017. An evening class was offered for the first time in years, and she jumped at the opportunity to take it. Now she will pair new language skills with library science to pursue her mission.
"A library is all about access," Young said.