In the week of October 17th, my counterpart at the library, Nadjie Yagya, and I traveled to three central libraries in Crimea and two branch libraries to present mini-seminars on the topic of volunteerism in libraries and communities. As part of our Peace Corps sponsored Small Projects Assistance (SPA) grant, these mini seminars were a follow-up from the two-day seminar/training we held in Simferopol on May 24th and 25th (see the May 30th blog post for a description of that seminar). Accompanied by library staff who provided information about the work of the Gasprinsky Library, Nadjie and I presented information about the concept of volunteerism and the opportunities it can provide for a library. Included in the seminar was a presentation on American libraries and how volunteer organizations—called “Friends of the Library”—assist libraries in America, from fundraising to providing an extra helping hand with library tasks.
Volunteerism, an accepted practice in America where a large percentage of the population do some kind of volunteer work, is slowly taking hold in post-Soviet countries. The goal of our SPA grant was to promote volunteerism in Crimea through developing volunteerism in Crimean libraries. As I listened to Nadjie discussing various volunteer ideas and watched the seminar participants avidly listen, take notes, and ask many questions, I felt hopeful that at least the idea of volunteerism, and what it can do for their libraries, was planted in the minds of many librarians.
At the branch library in the Crimean Tatar village of Ismail Bey, Nadjie and I and Susanna from Gasprinsky Library pose for a photo with the director of this small library (middle) and librarian from the Evpatoria library (far left).
Participants at the Bakchiseray Central Library.
At the Evpatoria Central Library, Nadjie and I present a slide show on volunteerism in American libraries (that's a young Barack Obama in the Harvard University Library).
At the regional library and Crimean Tatar Cultural Center in the town of Cuvorovckoe, Nadjie and I discuss library volunteerism with the director over tea.
At the Saki Central Library, participants avidly take notes.