Knowledge shared through library tours
CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- Librarians and library administrators with Urasoe City Library, Nago City Central Library and Miyakojima City Hirara Library visited the Camp Foster Library May 19-20 as part of a two-day “American Corners Workshop,” coordinated by the U.S. Consulate General Naha.
The workshop was set up for the librarians and library administrators who support the “American Corners” in the prefecture to exchange ideas with the Marine Corps Community Services library staff.
American Corners are a version of “American Spaces,” the designation given to cultural learning centers sponsored by the U.S. Department of State in local libraries and public areas around the world. The goal of American Spaces is to expose people to the U.S. through books, programs, language learning and events.
In Okinawa, American Spaces are composed of American Corners and “American Shelves,” which serve as American Spaces on a smaller scale, according to Dolores Prin, the public affairs officer for the U.S. Consulate General Naha.
“Our American Corners in Urasoe and Nago, and our American Shelf in Miyako are true partnerships with the local cities, highlighting how we can work together for the benefit of their patrons and students,” said Prin. “One of the reasons this works so well is that we periodically have these get-togethers to share ideas and make sure everyone has the resources, both intellectual and financial, to really make the most of our American Spaces.”
The library staff members met for the first day of the workshop May 19 at the U.S. Consulate General Naha in Urasoe City, Okinawa. The day was spent viewing presentations and discussing the management of the American Spaces, sharing best practices and challenges, and learning how to better market and promote events and programs to the public, according to Prin.
On the second day of the workshop, the Okinawa library staff went to Camp Foster to receive a tour and briefing of the library facilities to learn how they can maximize their resources and organize their spaces.
“It was a great way to inspire and motivate our American Corners directors, and gave them a lot to consider,” said Prin.
The Okinawa librarians also attended a story time for preschoolers to see how the Camp Foster Library runs one of its many children’s programs.
“They wanted to see how we did our children’s program because it’s much different from how the (Okinawa libraries) do their children’s program,” said Jeff Conner, the supervisory librarian for the Camp Foster Library, Marine Corps Community Services. “I am excited that they invited us out to one of their library programs to read an English book to the children. We want to build a positive relationship between the Okinawans and the Americans, and this is just a fantastic opportunity to do that.”
The Okinawa library staff members appreciated the opportunity to visit an American library, according to Rumi Ura, a librarian for the Urasoe City Library.
“This is (my) first time to actually (see) an American library, so everything was a learning experience for me,” said Ura. “I learned that American libraries are very spacious, and it gives a relaxing impression to the visitors. I had a great time today, and I am really glad I had this opportunity to see an American library. I wish I could have even more time here next time.”
The visit was a chance to share the two nations’ library procedures, learn from each other’s differences, and build relationships, according to Conner.
“They were very enthusiastic about visiting the library,” said Conner. “I would say this lays the groundwork for great opportunities in the future.”