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Donation of Books for Tarabuco Library



New books for Tarabuco Library

Tarabuco Librarian, Jhovana, signing for new books delivered by BiblioWorks Project Co-ordinator, Jhovana.

At last, a photo of the new books being delivered to the Tarabuco Library. Most of them are children’s picture books but there are also some for the older children. As you can see many of the titles are in Spanish but have distinctly European themes. Cinderella, Snow White, and other translations of European fairy tales. It is possible to purchase some children’s reading material published in Bolivia but there is not a great deal available. The library does already have some Bolivian children’s books such as the Libros Infantiles Bolivia series (Kids Books Bolivia) and a few other titles but the libraries and book stores I saw were dominated by non-South American material. Even so, the new books for Tarabuco are bright and colourful and are attractive for the children to read and it’s great to see the modern looking title in the top right of the photo which I’m sure will appeal to the boys in particular. I had been surprised to see how old many of the books in the Tarabuco Library were so it’s lovely to think of these newer, more appealing titles being made available for the children to read.

This delivery of new books for the Tarabuco Library has happened due to the generosity of the people who contributed to my Books for Bolivia project. Thanks to your kind donations I was able to arrange for a collection of new books to be purchased for the library. As you will have read in my previous post, my time in Bolivia was cut short when I needed to return to New Zealand. I am only just now finding some time to be able to think about Books for Bolivia again and I hope I can continue to support BiblioWorks in some way from here in New Zealand.

So, Muchas Gracias for your donations that have enabled this collection of new books for the Tarabuco Library.



Thank You

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Today is the date I thought I would be leaving Bolivia after 3 months of volunteer work. As it eventuated I spent 4 weeks in Bolivia and then returned to New Zealand as my partner was unwell and I wanted to be in New Zealand with him while he had treatment.

So, I have been back in New Zealand for 6 weeks now. It was my intention when I returned to New Zealand to put more of my time into BiblioWorks but it is only now that I find I have time to do this. With funds raised through the Books for Bolivia Give-a-Little page I have made a donation to BiblioWorks that I have asked to be spent specifically on books for the Tarabuco Library. BiblioWorks agreed to this and will send information about the books purchased once they arrive in Sucre.

I would like to say a huge Thank You to all those people who supported me in my time volunteering for BiblioWorks. I do feel some disappointment at not being able to stay in Bolivia for longer but I hope I can continue to contribute to the role that BiblioWorks has in promoting reading and literacy. I hope those who made contributions to my Books for Bolivia fundraising have confidence that their contributions have been used wisely and for the benefit of libraries and children in Bolivia.

I was immensely impressed with the professionalism of the BiblioWorks organisation and their staff. I would have no hesitation in recommending BiblioWorks to anyone who is interested in volunteering or fundraising for them. It was a great pleasure for me to be able to play a small part in the work BiblioWorks does.

In the time since I left Bolivia Biblioworks have opened another library. The newly opened library in Padilla is Biblioworks 13th library. The town of Padilla is 4 hours by bus from Sucre (a further 2 to 3 hrs past Tarabuco). Photos of the new Padilla library look great. Plenty of room for children to sit at tables and do their homework and lots of new books.  I was impressed to see the efforts Biblioworks have made to purchase new furniture and provide a lovely welcoming place for the children of Padilla.  Photos of the opening and more information about Padilla library can be found here .

So now that I have a bit more time I am intending to continue my contact with Biblioworks and investigate where I might be able to contribute some of my experience and skills as a librarian.

Change of plans

I’m sure this blog post is going to come as a big surprise to my blog followers as it has been to  me. Due to news of major health problems with family in New Zealand, I am on my way back to New Zealand. The news was not entirely unexpected but still came as a big shock. So I’ve spent the last week leaving Tarabuco and making plans to get home.

I’m still very pleased I came to Bolivia and although I’ve only been here for 4 weeks I feel as if I have had so many experiences in that time.

I had such short time in Tarabuco but still managed to implement changes to the library there. In discussion with Biblioworks I hope to continue to contribute to their organization once I am back in New Zealand. I intend to write a report for Biblioworks with recommendations for improvements at the Tarabuco Library. There is also the opportunity to write some sort of training documents for library staff.

I also intend to make a donation for books for the Tarabuco Library with money that was donated to my Books for Bolivia Give a Little page.

I will continue to update this blog with the progress of those activities and a summary of what I did achieve while I was in Bolivia.

This morning I flew from Sucre back to Santa Cruz and I’m now waiting at the airport to meet my Boliviana amiga , Ruby, and spend a couple of days with her before flying back to Santiago and then New Zealand


Small Changes


It’s surprising how small changes can have quite a big impact. The first thing I noticed when I came to the Tarabuco Library was that the children did not appear to be reading books very much at all. It was obvious to me that the books that were there were not readily available for the children to browse or even to reach them on the shelves.

There was a small collection of books for recreational reading amongst the hundreds of “school” or textbooks that were on the shelves. These school books which the older students who come into the library after school use in the library for their homework are sorted in categories such as science, religion, health etc. Then on the bottom shelf in no particular order was a collection of children’s picture books and a few other reading books for older children.

And most of these shelves were behind the librarian’s desk. The children are expected to ask the librarian for the book they want and they are not able to browse the collection and select books for themselves. This system kind of works for the books they need for their homework but it doesn’t work at all for recreational reading.

So after discussing with Biblioworks staff the problem of the children not reading very much, I purchased 3 plastic baskets from the market last Sunday. These baskets I filled with the recreational reading books that I found stuffed in the bottom shelf behind the librarian’s desk. We then placed the baskets on the floor in front of the shelves where the children could reach them. The younger children immediately began browsing the books in the basket and selecting titles to take back to the tables in the library and read.

The next step was to talk with the Tarabuco librarian, Jhovana, and see if she would be happy to relocate the librarian’s desk to one side of the library which would then give the older children easier access to browse the shelves for the books that they need for homework. This was a change that Jhovana was also happy to go with as it makes her job of helping the students find the material they need easier.

It is the custom in most of these Bolivian libraries for the children to ask for each book they wish to read and also to tell the librarian each time they put one back. This is an unusual practice for a New Zealand librarian to get accustomed to but if it works for the librarians here and the children are reading then I’m quite happy to go along with it.

At a cost of less than $10 I am delighted to have introduced a couple of small changes that will ensure that a greater number of children who use the Tarabuco Library have access to books and are reading for fun.




Tarabuco Biblioteca

My first introduction to the Tarabuco Library was last Monday. First impressions are of the colourful entrance seen in the photo above. Unfortunately this is the Casa Cultura not the library. The library is hidden down the pathway to the left of the Casa Cultura, past the public toilets with their drums of water on the path outside. The library is a much smaller building, probably only 6m x 4m inside. My first thoughts were it was a nice small space for a small library. But as I spent more time there I found that it is much too small a space for the number of children using it.

I have been going to the library from 2pm to 5 or 6pm each week day. The younger primary school age children start arriving when school finishes about 2.30pm and the older secondary school age children about 3.30 – 4pm. The children come in ones and twos and at first there’s time to talk and start an activity. But soon there’s 25 to 30 children sharing this very small space and the noise level increases and it seems very chaotic.

There are library books on the shelves at the far end of the room. The majority of them are textbooks some of which the older students ask to use for their homework. But I have found that there are very few books for recreational reading and the few that I do find are on a shelf behind the librarian’s desk. The children are required to ask the librarian for the book that they want. They are not allowed to browse the shelves and select material for themselves.

I have had a brief look at the book collection and I’ve discovered that most of the books are very old and that there are very few titles that I would consider recreational reading. The librarian, Jhovana, is friendly and helpful, and seems to have a good rapport with the children. Unfortunately people employed as librarians have very little training in library work and Jhovana’s role seems to be more about opening and shutting the library and keeping the kids from being too rowdy. She does seem to be very keen to try new things and already has agreed to move the small collection of recreational reading to a shelf where the children can reach them and select a book for themselves.

After a brief look at the collection I selected about 35 fiction for this shelf. Most of them are younger children’s picture books and as yet I haven’t discovered any fiction for older students. There is an order for new books in the pipeline but as yet it has to be signed off by the council and then the books ordered and delivered. I have noticed that the children are only interested in playing with the game sin the library and that apart from older students using the library for doing their homework, there is no actual reading of books happening.

This week I’ve come back to Sucre for a night to catch up with Biblioworks staff. It’s been very helpful to talk to them about the challenges of Tarabuco Library and we’ve come up with a few ideas and strategies that may help increase the reading activity in the library.

Obtaining new and appropriate reading material for the library would be my first priority as without books that are suitable and look inviting to read it is doubtful that a culture of reading for fun can be built up. I have discovered that the younger children love to draw and giving them a drawing activity has been a wonderful way to get to know them.

It’s been a busy first week. On my second day in Tarabuco I went by trufi (minivan with 16 or 17 passengers) back towards Sucre to the town of Yamaperez where Biblioworks held a display as part of an event for Dia el Nino (Day of the Child). This was followed that afternoon by an event held in Tarabuco for the children there. It was a wonderful clown and magic show held in the central plaza. Great fun for all!

Apart from that I’ve been able to walk in the surrounding countryside for a couple of hours each day as the library doesn’t open until 2pm. The walking has been wonderful. despite the altitude of Tarabuco is 3,200m so it’s quite high up. Apart from puffing a fair bit when walking uphill I’ve found the walking to be really enjoyable. It’s been a  great way to see a bit of the lifestyle of the people living in the countryside around the town.



P1010267Sucre – city of hills and churches. Wonderful city, full of history, beautiful architecture, and friendly people.

Sucre has been a lovely place to stop for a few days and draw breath. Although I haven’t been sitting around the whole time. After arriving at 9am on Friday I got a taxi to the hostal. Lovely hostal but I was somewhat disconcerted to find my room was on the first floor and I had two 20kg suitcases to lug up the stairs. That certainly made me puff. The altitude here in Sucre hasn’t affected me much but the dry air certainly has. Once I worked out that the dry air plays hell with your sinuses then I was able to do something about it. I was pleased to have flown in so early in the morning as every day since I’ve been here there has been huge lightning and thunder storms in the late afternoon that last for 4 or 5 hours or more. A few heavy downpours of rain but mostly just really loud thunder and huge sheets of lightning.

Friday morning I arrived at the Biblioworks office just in time for breakfast with the staff and other volunteers that were there. Very welcoming and friendly group although I felt somewhat nervous at my very beginner level Spanish. In the afternoon I joined them at the Friday reading session at the central plaza. Great to be involved straight away and when I struggled to read a simple picture book to a child I found that he was able to read it himself with a bit of help from me on the longer words. The plaza is a wonderful place to sit and watch a sample of life in Sucre. Huge contrasts between the working children who were there after school to sell things to contribute a few pesos to their family’s income and the children from obviously wealthier families who are very well dressed and well cared for.