Unintended consequences

May 17, 2012 00:00 · 421 words · 2 minute read

One of the outcomes I’m looking for in this series of visits is unintended consequences. Did things happen that we didn’t predict, or plan for in the project? Did things change for the better, or worse? Here in Peru, I’ve been surprised and impressed at how the project has spun off across the country. A small pilot project to visit schools to promote libraries and librarianship as a profession. Collaborations with municipal governments on the development of new regional libraries. Workshops to sensitise mayors to the public library of today. An association that is supporting libraries and library workers across the country, whether they are members or not (in Latin America, many associations are hamstrung by legislation that requires associations, or Colegios, to only admit professional graduates as members).

The project has also had an impact on the library association serving Peru’s Amazon region and peoples. Under threat from resource exploitation and displacement, the association is a critical advocate for preservation of cultural heritage, traditional information, and lifestyles in the country’s northern jungles. The challenges they describe in preserving lifestyles and culture remind me very much of an excellent comic book produced by Survival International a few years ago, “There you go” about the problems associated with imported approaches to sustainable development. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

This has been a welcome surprise because we didn’t set out to have an impact on this association as well. They’ve made use of the workshops, and I’m looking forward to sharing what they are doing with others – I cannot think of another association that has such a specific, dedicated advocacy purpose although of course there are many working on traditional knowledge and cultural issues around the world.

Change in Peru is on the up, with more sustainable and environmental initiatives being promoted by the government and a focus on inclusion, both of which are positive for libraries. For more on this, see Beyond Access’ blog, which talks about their recent visit here.

I heard on the weekend while cycling around Barranco and climbing the Temple of the Sun at Pachacamac that pride in local culture and patrimony is “trendy” amongst Peruvians right now (pride in local culture, visits to local sites, purchase of local products), which does bode well for cultural preservation initiatives.

Now, for me, after a great few days in Peru during what they call “Winter” (it’s tshirt weather) it’s time to head some 13,000km North East. Next stop: Ukraine!

Originally published on the semanticlibrary.net blog

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