Bibliotecas, archivos, manuscritos y tesauros: nuevos descubrimientos, continuos retos y propuestas innovadoras (2014)

Monday, May 20, 8:30-10:00

Moderator:  Ellen Jaramillo, Yale University

Rapporteur: Natalie Baur, University of Miami


  • Red de Bibliotecas Comunitarias Riecken — Marco Israel Quic Cholotío, Bibliotecas Comunitarias Riecken
  • Aproximación al tesauro del huipil tradicional triqui de San Andrés Chicahuaxtla — Patricia Alejandra Méndez Zapata, Fundación Alfredo Harp Helú, Oaxaca, AC., México
  • Escritoras y periodistas en el Perú del siglo l9 (1850-1900) — Maida Watson, Florida International University

Marco Israel Quic Cholotío presented on his work with a system of community-supported libraries in Guatemala. Quic emphasized that the community libraries serve as centers of learning and promoting curiosity. The libraries also facilitate the diffusion of information in alternate ways since many in the communities are not literate. The libraries are considered “community-based” since they include input and contributions from the community, the municipality and partner organizations. Without one part, the whole cannot function; therefore the community participation is essential to the function of the organization.

After introducing the general overview of the Riecken Libraries, Quic discussed the various types of programming and services that the libraries offered its patrons. Along with providing internet access and reading materials, the libraries also have strong programs in strengthening local culture. Programs include storytelling with children and community elders, Mayan cooking and weaving classes for children and young adults, and a role in working with community members to publish oral traditions as children’s books. The libraries also provide bibliomóviles (bookmobiles) in rural areas without access to brick and mortar libraries. Finally, the libraries also play a role in organizing community service opportunities for all ages.

Patricia Alejandra Méndez Zapata presented on her work with the Triqui community in Mexico and the preservation of their traditional weaving methods and symbols. Méndez explained that in the state of Oaxaca, there are fifteen indigenous peoples, and that the community of Triqui has grown to include a mix of the traditional and the “new.” Méndez lived in the community over several periods of time in order to develop a thesaurus of weaving terms and designs with the help of Triqui women.

Méndez spoke first about how she gained confidence with members of the community and obtained an invitation to live and work with the women while she did her research. Then, she explained the development for the methodology of her thesaurus project and how she conceptualized her methods of data collection, which consisted of conducting a series of interviews with Triqui women who were expert weavers. Using the program Word Smith to analyze the words used during her interviews, Méndez was then able to develop a comprehensive thesaurus of Triqui-Spanish terms related to traditional weaving techniques, designs and lore.

Maida Watson spoke about her research on 19th century women writers and journalists in Perú, outside of the capital of Lima. She spoke of several women authors, including Carolina Freyre de Jaimes, perhaps one of the best known Peruvian female writers of her time. Freyre de Jaimes wrote in many of the leading Peruvian newspapers and journals of her time, during the era of a male-dominated profession. Watson then spoke to the social clubs, called tertulias that educated, leading women of Perú formed because they were not invited to be a part of the men’s clubs. In these female spaces, the women were able discuss their intellectual pursuits and writing freely. According to Watson, because of their involvement in intellectual spheres and contributions to newspapers and periodicals, women in Perú enjoyed more freedom of expression and work than their elite counterparts in Spain.


Peter Johnson (Princeton University) asked Marco Israel Quic about the recent case of Ríos Montt being convicted of human rights violations in Guatemala and the responsibilities that libraries had in making information available to people about such topics. Quic answered that his library turned on the television but there was no work to save or diffuse the information.

Barbara Tennenbaum (Library of Congress) asked Patricia Méndez if she verified if the answers she got during her interviews were true and how much time she was in the community. Méndez replied that she had an entrance to the community through women she had previously worked with on another project and that she was able to be in the community for her thesaurus project several times for short periods and was able to share her final product with the women.

Ellen Jaramillo (Yale University) asked Marco Israel Quic about the reactions that parents had of their children using the libraries. Quic responded that the great majority of the parents supported their children learning from elders in the library and that only a few people had asked that the elders not participate in the library programs without compensation. Normally, however, the work that the libraries do with the community is very accepted.

Sócrates Silva (UC Santa Barbara) asked Israel Marco Quic how to acquire the children’s books his library published. Quic explained that they were available as supplements in newspapers and that the Guatemalan government was publishing three titles for a literacy program at the national level.

Gayle Williams (Florida International University) asked Maida Watson if women writers in 19th century Perú were writing at all about voting rights for women. Watson responded that the women in Perú at the time were not very worried about voting rights, that they were more interested in the rights to work professionally.