The American Library Association (ALA) organized a three-day regional workshop “Strengthening Library Associations in the South Caucasus: A Regional Workshop,” held in Tbilisi, Georgia, May 5–8, 2001, in cooperation with the Armenian Library Association, the Azerbaijan Library Development Association and the Association of Information Specialists (Georgia). Complete details on the workshop can be found here.
The workshop was created by ALA President Nancy Kranich to assist libraries in emerging democracies fulfill their critical roles in developing free and informed citizens. The initiative is part of her theme “Libraries: The Cornerstone of Democracy.”
“Equal access to information is a basic tenet in libraries in democratic countries,” Kranich said. “It is vital that libraries in the newly independent states continue to improve their ability to provide access to information to their citizens to help ensure the growth of these fledgling democracies.”
The workshop will encourage and facilitate the continued cooperative efforts among the newly formed library associations in the South Caucasus region at this critical early stage of development. The workshop will increase the ability of the libraries and associations in the region to work together to promote the role of libraries in society in ensuring an informed citizenry.
Thirty librarians and library policy makers (10 each from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia) will work with a small contingent of U.S. colleagues well-versed in library and information issues, including Kranich, former ALA president Ann Symons and Jordan Scepanski, chair of the ALA’s International Relations Committee. The U.S. librarians will lead discussions on the important place of libraries in democracies and, along with local presenters, explore the critical role of libraries as information providers and how regional and national library associations can effectively advocate the importance of these institutions of knowledge.
The Carnegie Corporation of New York awarded ALA a $25,000 grant for the workshop. Additional support of regional participants is being provided by Open Society Institute, the American Council for International Education, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy-Tbilisi through the Democracy Commission.
For more information on other presidential initiatives, please visit Kranich’s home page.