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Title ‘Thank You Small Library’, where dreams and hopes of children around the world grow
No 117 Inquiry 1476 Date 2017.11.03

The 2017 opening ceremony of the first “small library’ is held in Mongolia

 Khovd is a city 1,800 km west of Ulaanbataar, the capital city of Mongolia. It is bordered by China to the southwest, and by Russia to the north. Due to its geographical features, there are various ethnic groups living there for a long time, and the city is currently inhabited by 13 ethnic groups. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, and Sports of Mongolia has selected Herb for the <Thank You Small Library> business area in 2017 to revitalize the Khovd region, where there are significantly fewer opportunities for cultural and educational benefits than the capital city Ulaanbataar. The Mongolian government has been cooperating with the construction of the “small library” in the southeast of Mongolia in 2016, the west in 2017, and the north in 2018. The purpose of the <Thank You Small Library> project is to provide educational and cultural benefits throughout Mongolia.

 At the request of Mongolian Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science, the Korea Foundation for Cultural Industries Exchange created three libraries in Jargalant Soum Village and Bulgang Soum Village in Khovd district, and this work was finalized in early September. Each library, transformed into a more pleasant and spacious facility for students, was filled with about 1,200 books. In addition, new computers and laptops that will serve as tools for students to communicate with a wider world were installed. The library also has multimedia materials and beam projectors that allow teachers and students to watch various contents together and expand their world view.

 On the opening ceremony held on Saturday, September 16, there was a colorful village festival attended by the members of the Mongolian Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science, the members of Khovd Regional Educational and Cultural Office, members from each school, students, parents, and residents. The opening ceremony started with the congratulatory speeches of the officials of the two countries, followed by award ceremonies for “My dream small library painting contest” and "Dream KIUM book reading contest," which were held in advance for this day. There was also a variety of performances to showcase the culture and arts of Mongolian Nomadic people, which students prepared by themselves for visitors from far away, from Korea.

Mongolia is one of the low-income countries designated by the UN and one of Korea's major ODA partners. Mongolia has a relatively stable political and social environment, and the rapid development of the economy and the acceleration of resource development in recent years have indicated that the nation has high development potential. The Mongolian government has set very specific and detailed goals for education in its national development strategies, and the average share of public education in its GDP (5%) is higher than the global average (less than 4%). Nevertheless, the overall quality of education is significantly low and the educational environment is poor, compared to the number of students. The Korean Ministry of Education's culture and education ODA project "Thank You Small Library" is expected to improve education in Mongolia and enable students to read and study in a comfortable environment. It is also expected to positively contribute to the quality of education and the literacy rate of students.

“Workshop on Strengthening Librarian Capacity” is held to train professionals in Mongolia libraries

 In order to achieve not only the 4th goal of the “UN Sustainable Growth Goals,” the construction of education facilities, but also training of professionals, <Thank You Small Library> is carrying out a librarian workshop every year. Following the successful hosting of the "Cambodia Librarian Capacity Building Workshop" held in February, the training workshop, which lasted for 8 hours, was held on September 18th at the Altai Conference Hall of the Kempinski Hotel in the heart of the capital Ulaanbataar. Various education experts gathered at this workshop: librarians from all 9 small libraries built throughout Mongolia, school principals, the National Library staff, and librarians who made application to the Mongolian government to learn how to operate and manage the library. The workshop was filled with lively discussions and passionate presentations by librarians.

 The workshop started with the congratulatory address of Han In-seon, the deputy director from the Library Policy Planning Commission of the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, followed by the congratulatory speech by Bold, the deputy director from the Culture and Arts Policy Bureau of the Mongolian Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, and Sports. This was followed by the lecture on the status of Mongolian library policy by Bayarr, the deputy director from the Culture and Arts Policy Bureau of the Mongolian Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Sports. Bayarr then gave his presentation on successful cases of librarian management of a “small library” selected by the Library Policy Planning Committee of the Mongolian Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. Next, there was  the presentation on cases of management of a Korean library by Park Soh-hee, the chairman of the Children and Small Library Association. In addition, participating librarians wrote and presented the plan for the management of the library and the development of the reading program, and they received feedback from other experts. The venue was filled with the enthusiasm of librarians who sought to provide various opportunities and reading programs for library users. They also addressed the concerns of Mongolian government officials for raising the quality of education and establishing library policies in Mongolia.

 Currently, Mongolia has a total of 1,509 libraries, including 373 public libraries, 817 elementary, middle, and high school affiliated libraries, 101 university libraries, 54 vocational school libraries, 120 institutional libraries, and 44 academic libraries. Bayarr, the Mongolian Library Policy Officer who observed the event, said, "Due to the transition to the market economy and changes in the government's library policy, library policy legislation has been introduced somewhat belatedly, considering there is nearly 100 years of history for Mongolian libraries. We still need more efforts and time to improve not only the library infra in general, but also the library environment." He also revealed his impression of the vent: "As a Mongolian government official, this workshop gave me a chance to get direct access to examples of Korea in various fields, such as library policy cases and online library building cases. I also think that the workshop is made up of good programs that can gradually contribute to Mongolian libraries. At the same time, I see this as an opportunity through which librarians and the officials of our two countries can build mutual trust.”

 An educational and cultural development cooperation project does not show results in a short period of time. It is an endeavor that needs to be steadily promoted over time. It is not only important to create a “small library,” but it is also necessary to recognize that the role of the librarian is important for its sustainable operation and that these librarians require support. After the creation of the “small library,” the key factor in the library’s operation is the librarians' capabilities. Based on expertise accumulated over a long period of time, librarians will increase the literacy rate of students and local residents and contribute to the quality of education. The “Thank You Small Library” project started from the desire to contribute to the international community by providing a better education environment for children and adolescents around the world based on Korea’s experience of development in education and culture. Let’s hope that it can be the foundation for Mongolia's continuing development.