Monday, May 30, 2011

Developing Volunteerism in Crimean Libraries: A two-day seminar sponsored by the Gasprinsky Library in partnership with the U.S. Peace Corps

On May 24th and 25th, we held a two-day seminar at the library on developing volunteerism in Crimean libraries. Soon after I came to work at the library in the summer of 2009, my partner at the library, Nadjie Yagya, and I attended a Peace Corps sponsored training in Kyiv on how to recruit, motivate, and manage volunteers in our organizations. The seminar was attended by Peace Corps Volunteers and their organizational partners from across Ukraine. The information we obtained at that training sparked the idea to organize a seminar at our library to promote volunteerism in Crimean libraries. We invited 35 librarians from all the regions of Crimea for a two-day seminar in Simferopol to learn from some of the experts that came to our training in Kyiv.

The seminar opened with a welcome from the new Minister of Culture in Crimea, Alena Plakida, who announced the appointment of Gulnara Yagyaeva as Director of the library. Gulnara Yagyaeva had been the acting director for a year, so we were all thrilled to have her appointment finally be permanent.

The participants were eager for a chance to learn about the possibilities for volunteerism in their libraries.

With the help of Elmas Emirova translating, I presented a slide show on volunteerism in American libraries. Practically every library in America has a volunteer group called Friends of the Library which helps the library with crucial tasks, particularly fundraising.

Constantine Yastrebova from Vinnitsa talked about the partnership of his organization with the city library to promote volunteerism.

Svetlana Cobova from the Youth Resource Center in the Cherkasy region talked about how to motivate volunteers to work in libraries and organizations.

Tatiana Orobchenko, Head of Youth and Family Services in the Poltava region, discussed the legal regulations concerning volunteers working in nonprofit organizations. She also showed many examples of some of the wonderful work of volunteers in the Poltava area.

Elena Ivanchenko and Peace Corps Volunteer Cheryl Pratt from the Sovetsky Central Rayon Library in eastern Crimea presented the Peace Corps sponsored project at their library. Called "Club Bluebird," it is a youth skills building club and has a multi media center to teach web design and other computer and internet skills.

Seminar participants worked in small groups to create innovative ideas for volunteer work at their libraries. Participants from one of the groups presents their ideas to the whole group.

Participants gather on the front steps of the library for a group photograph.

The two-day seminar will be followed by "Volunteer Days" in six regions across Crimea. These Volunteer Days will give local communities a chance to highlight the work of their libraries and nonprofit organizations and to recruit volunteers to their work.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hydyrlez--A Celebration of Spring

May 7, 2011 was the first large festival in the Simferopol region to celebrate the Crimean Tatar spring holiday called Hydyrlez. My partner at the library, Nadjie, had told me about it weeks ago, and we had made a plan to go together. However, she ended up not being able to go, so I went with another Peace Corps Volunteer, Cheryl Pratt, and my neighbor family. Staff at the Gasprinsky Library also went and set up a display of books about Hydyrlez in a booth they shared with the Crimean Tatar Art Museum.
Despite early morning chilly temperatures, the day turned into a beautiful sunny day with clouds floating across the distant green hills. Located about 20 kilometers from Simferopol, the festival was held on a large track of land with room for booths, performances, food, sports, and plenty of strolling around. The crowd was estimated at 7,000 to 10,000 people, and it was a great beginning for what will be an annual Crimean Tatar festival.

There were performances of traditional Crimean Tatar music and dance.

Beautiful crafts were for sale.

Many people enjoyed the performances on the large concert stage.

There was lots of wonderful Crimean Tatar food.

Thanks to Peace Corps Volunteer Cheryl Pratt for the photos.