For immediate release | May 9, 2012

2012 ALA Presidential Citations for Innovative International Library Projects announced

CHICAGO — Every year, libraries across the world introduce - and sustain - projects that make a difference to their citizens and connect the international community in genuine and new ways.

The 2012 recipients of the ALA Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects are:

  • The World is Just a Book Away (Projects in Indonesia): Founded on the belief that education breaks the cycle of poverty and promotes peace, The World is Just a Book Away (WIJABA) focuses on inspiring and educating children in developing countries by providing books, building libraries and developing curricular programs. WIJABA provides children with hope, empowering them to change their own lives and the world at large. More than 27,000 children have been served by WIJABA, which has established 49 libraries, 26 parent libraries and two mobile libraries in Indonesia. In 2012, WIJABA will begin working with children in Mexico.

    For more information:
  • Chinese Medicine Digital Projects — Hong Kong Baptist University: Through the development of two databases, Hong Kong Baptist University has cataloged and made available the history and uses of Chinese medicinal herbs and specimens. Available in Chinese and English, this is the first time this information has been available in English. While the databases were designed to improve teaching methods and effective use of these plants and herbs, making this information available for free via the Internet has historic and limitless benefits for medical providers and researchers across the globe.

    Chinese Medicine Specimen Database: / Medicinal Plants Images Database:
  • Riecken Community Libraries (Projects in Guatemala and Honduras): The Riecken Foundation has opened more than 60 libraries in Central America. New programs and initiatives include: developing early literacy programs to assist mothers in learning how to read along with their children; providing training and access to technologies like GPS that enable community members to document their cultural spaces/cultural heritage; and publishing local books in indigenous languages.

    For more information:
  • The Urban Office — Helsinki City Library (Finland): In May 2010 the Helsinki City Library opened the Urban Office, a creative work environment in the middle of the city that offers temporary office space that can be used not only for business purposes, but also to educate and combat marginalization. According to Roberto Corsini, information technology officer, “A large part of our clientele consists of mobile knowledge workers who don’t have their own offices – people ranging from students to C-level executives who have spare time between meetings.” Urban Office meets the needs of laptop citizens by providing them with comfortable workspaces, technology, and community.

    For more information:

Dr. Loriene Roy, ALA President in 2007-2008, created the ALA Presidential Citation for International Library Projects to promote the most innovative of these projects.

“I was fortunate to observe exciting and novel library services in many places outside of the United States and wanted to celebrate their efforts and introduce their work to ALA members,” Roy said.

Jeannette Pierce, former chair of the International Relations Round Table (IRRT), is part of the team of IRRT members challenged with choosing which projects will receive the most recent citations.

“In consultation with ALA President Molly Raphael we selected four outstanding nominations for the ALA Presidential Citation this year," Pierce said. “Each project represents library services that are innovative, sustainable, and valuable to the communities served. We are excited to highlight these projects for the global library community.”

As the only international recognition award given out by the ALA President, expectations are high. As ALA President Molly Raphael notes, “We have much to learn from our international colleagues. The projects recognized by this citation draw attention to the creativity of librarians around the world in meeting the priorities of the communities they serve. We are pleased to have the opportunity to celebrate the success of these model programs in other countries.”

ALA President Molly Raphael will present the Citations at the IRRT International Librarians Reception held on Monday, June 25, 2012 during the ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

For information about the award:



Delin Guerra

Program Officer

International Relations Office (IRO)