Quest for Knowledge
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- In today’s technology-driven society, many people overlook libraries as relevant places to find information, but to those who work in libraries, anywhere that allows the sharing of knowledge still has a place in modern society.
That quest for knowledge brings people together, so a group of 15 Okinawan librarians from the local community came here to experience the ins and outs of operating an American library.
“I do believe it’s a good idea for [local librarians] to be more familiar with what the Americans are interested in,” said Keiko Shinzato, 18th Force Support Squadron library acquisition technician. “I think that the visit will help strengthen the friendship and relationship between the Okinawans and the Americans.”
Many Okinawan libraries are starting to offer a small “American corner” at their libraries. They want to be able to connect with Americans when they come in and be able to offer a way to learn about Okinawa in a more culturally comfortable atmosphere.
Kadena’s library does something similar – they have sections and programs so that Americans can learn more about Okinawan culture.
“We are very interested in [local] culture, and we are trying to teach it so Americans have an idea about the different festivals and traditions and why Okinawans do certain things,” said Belinda Pugh, 18th FSS resource librarian.
Upon arrival to Kadena, the local librarians toured the facility, stopping every few feet to get a presentation on what they were looking at and how it operates. They observed how books are checked out and returned, the different displays at the entrance and the overall set-up of the facility.
They received a presentation on the many activates and programs offered at the library, like children’s story time, which they were able to observe.
Okinawan libraries are more strictly education-centered, said Pugh. They soaked in the different culture of Kadena’s library, American libraries try to associate reading and learning with fun using different activities.
The local librarians learned about the Dewey Decimal System, the system most American libraries use to categorize their books. They then split up into smaller groups so they could get personalized training on each aspect of the library.
“It gets across the message that knowledge is power, and the more knowledge you have, the better chance you have of getting along,” said Pugh.