Panel at SALALM 2019, Austin, TX

"Books Instead of Guns: Libraries as Sites for Peace in Colombia"
Friday, june 28, 2019, 10:30am--12pm

For live streaming please click here

Public libraries have been recognized as engines of peace in Colombia. This year, five Colombian librarians who participated in an initiative that, since 2017, has been known as Libraries for Peace will be attending SALALM LXIV in Austin, TX.

Our purpose is to present this initiative for the first time outside of Colombian territory and, in particular, to present it to our "Salalmist" community. Our goal is twofold: on the one hand, to allow a select group of Colombian "Librarians for Peace" to interact with an international academic community of colleagues--mostly from North America, but also from Europe and Latin America--and, on the other hand, we hope that this interaction can be useful in creating an opportunity for "salalmistas" to contemplate new dimensions of our profession. In short, our ultimate hope is that this initiative will open a space for shared dialogue that will help us to better recognize ways to move forward in our profession.

To accomplish this, we are organizing a panel for Friday, June 28, 10:30 am. in which we will try to present and analyze how our profession has effectively contributed to alleviating the effects of violence in war-torn societies. This panel considers how librarians and users use humanistic tools--reading, writing, and other forms of cultural action--to cope with various regimes of violence. Do they see their role in this capacity as constructing peace, or something else? To what extent can we speak of "peace" in communities affected by social inequalities, structural violence and new conflicts that have not been alleviated in times marked by "post-conflict" discourse?

This panel also invites participants and attendees to reflect on the library's role in generating alternative outlets for communication and artistic expression; uncovering and preserving local memory; giving voice to members of marginalized communities; and promoting reconciliation across social and political divides. In keeping with this year's seminar theme, the role of cultural patrimony within all of these thematic areas will also be a point of discussion.

Our panelists are: the former director of the Mobile Libraries for Peace Project, Henry García Gaviria, and four Librarians for Peace: Gloria Estella Nupán, Pablo Iván Galvis Díaz, Gilberto Pabón Sandoval y Víctor Solís Camacho. This panel is also a true reflection of the current times, since unfortunately Victor Solís Camacho cannot attend in person after being twice denied an entry visa to the United States. We are working hard to include him virtually.

We are also organizing a meeting space in the 'Libreros' exhibitor room where we will install a screen that will provide information about this experience. We plan to hold meetings and interviews in this space, which will be marked as "Librarians for Peace."

We now invite you to consult the "History of Mobile Public Libraries for Peace" to better understand the impact of these libraries on Colombia's peace process.

This panel will be streamed live. To connect, please click here