Joshua, my colleague, and I spent quite a while the other day talking about this. He asked how could someone who had been given a book (as evidenced by the inscription) then go on to give that book away? I had to tell him I simply don't know. He said he thinks this shows a lack of respect for the gift and the giver. We also talked, again, about how so many books that are donated and shipped are simply irrelevant to the RTC Library. Some are missing covers or falling apart. Who wants to read a book that is in pieces? We talked about donations in general and Joshua also told me about donated/used computers to his home country of Kenya. He told me how outside organizations and governments give these computers but the computers require so much maintenance and work they become more expensive than they are worth.
This is not the first conversation I have had with African staff at RTC. It's heartbreaking in so many ways. The people here, like anywhere, don't just want charity or money. They want our love and respect. What good is a donation without empowerment? And I am reminded again, to think about sustainability. I have so many questions these days about this: Is what I am doing sustainable? When I make donations am I giving to organizations that empower communities rather than just give handouts? How is the work I'm doing at RTC sustainable? Am I making sure that someone can take over when I leave? How do I make a library (a Western institution) culturally appropriate so it is also sustainable and used in this community?
Yes, lots to think about, as always. I find I do a lot of thinking here.
In the meantime, here are some pictures of what we are finding:
|I wonder about the context of this one.|
|And this one too, actually.|
|I love old card catalog cards! We found this in a book and it made us both laugh.|