Construire la paix : le rôle des bibliothèques pour la préservation et la transmission des cultures indigènes

LACHAL, Jérémy, BERTHIER, Romain and PEICH, Muy-Cheng (2018) Construire la paix : le rôle des bibliothèques pour la préservation et la transmission des cultures indigènes. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2018 – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Transform Libraries, Transform Societies in Session 96 - Indigenous Matters SIG.

Bookmark or cite this item:
Language: French (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


In November 2016, the Colombian government and the FARC signed a historic peace agreement, thus ending more than five decades of civil war. Not only did the agreement aimed at making the ceasefire and the disarmament of the FARCs effective, it also aimed at ensuring that the FARCs could be reintegrated into the Colombian society. The peace agreement focused on Colombia’s isolated rural zones, which were the most affected by the conflict: there the social fabric was strongly polarized and damaged. To launch the application of this agreement, the Colombian government made a bet on culture as a central element for national reconciliation: the Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia (National Library of Colombia) was tasked with the implementation of libraries in the demobilization territories of the FARCs. The Biblioteca Nacional de Colombia partnered with BSF on the design of the Bibliotecas Públicas Móviles (Mobile Public Libraries) and the implementation of the 20 libraries across the country. This intervention focused on territories that were long forgotten by the government and where the conflicts, as well as social inequalities, have durably affected the local communities. Afro-American populations and indigenous populations, who in Colombia suffer from discrimination and inequalities, were the main target users of the project. During the implementation of the project, we soon realized that a durable peace could only be built if the concerned population was recognized and included with their specificities within the design process of the project. With our partners, we immediately felt the exceptional potential of such a project to deepen and strengthen the implementation of the peace agreement and initiate structural changes that take into account the specificities of each community. Therefore, our intervention within those communities aimed to provide them with tools and resources to build a durable peace based on the recognition of each community’s specificities and the promotion of the local identity as an integral part of the nation. This specific objective within a global program was organized into two main axes: • The promotion of local identity, culture and custom, specifically focused on: o Language preservation and promotion o Traditional cultural production and history: gastronomy, dance, religion… o Reinforcing local communities’ literacy and communication skills through innovative technologies so that they can express themselves and make their voices heard in the media. • The objective of sustainability, through: o The encouragement of micro-project management and sustainable production based on the artisanal production o The promotion of the local agricultural production through the reinforcement of local of infrastructures and business development o The training of local leaders into librarians. Many micro-projects were created within those 20 libraries. In Caldono, Cauca, the library was implemented in an Indigenous reserve: the librarian did an amazing work promoting the language of the Nasa community and training a local leader who is now in charge of the library. In Riosucio, Choco, the Ambera community was completely excluded from the daily life of the surrounding villages. The librarian initiated artisanal and digital literacy workshops, which enabled members of the Ambera community to sell their artisanal and agricultural production in those villages. They also participate now in local events promoting their culture and identity through dances, traditional clothing and gastronomy. Most importantly, the metis population has now included the Ambera community in the global identity of their territory and recognizes their culture as part of their own. The Bibliotecas Públicas Móviles project demonstrates the essential role that culture can play in sustainably transforming societies when it is adequately mobilized. It has been a tricky journey, but when a library is well managed and when the social role of a librarian is truly recognized, the impact of such work is immediately perceived and preserved on the long term as it builds upon the underlying societal dynamics. This program has been transferred to the local authorities with the technical support of LWB. The dynamics implemented during the first year are still vivid and the results continue to amaze us: the observed changes are profound and highlight the peace-building potential of culture. In our presentation, we will discuss the main lessons of this project: from the way the librarians implemented a user-centered approach to the promotion of self-empowerment and local projects supported by the library. An external impact evaluation has shown the social impact of the Bibliotecas Públicas Móviles on indigenous communities: from empathy reinforcement to conflict-resolution (+15%), democratic participation (+26%), leadership and empowerment (+31%).

FOR IFLA HQ (login required)

Edit item Edit item