Building libraries abroad

Submitted by Blake on Sun, 11/09/2003 - 06:09

Here's A Dallas News Story [Reg. Required] on University of North Texas professor, Carol Simpson, who has devoted the last two summers to making sure that libraries are available to schoolchildren in Negril, Jamaica, and Chiang Rai, Thailand. She's led groups of UNT students to both towns to catalog thousands of donated books and set up libraries.

"We didn't want to come in like a fairy godmother, wave the magic wand and create a library and then go," said Dr. Simpson, assistant professor at the university's School of Library and Information Sciences. "We wanted to create something that they would be able to maintain and continue to be able to use. We wanted to use a real library as a laboratory.They say
Dr. Simpson even created a course, "School Library Operation and Policy Development," so students could receive university credit for their efforts.

The most recent trip was to Chiang Rai Montessori School and included a group of 10 students and two professors – Dr. Simpson and Elizabeth Figa, also an assistant professor at UNT's School of Library and Information Sciences.
In summer 2002, Dr. Simpson's first student group went to the Negril All-Age School in Jamaica.
"I call it my serendipity project because it just kind of fell in my lap," said Dr. Simpson.

She had been vacationing in Jamaica in 2001 with her husband when she learned of an effort to open a school library.

"It made for very hands-on experience. ... But it was also a mission trip," said Karen Sowers, librarian at Rowlett Elementary School who received her master's degree from UNT in May. "As a school librarian, it really appealed to me to be able to help provide those children with the information and books they need to better themselves."