17th Annual Mortenson Distinguished Lecture

Image of Clara BudnikClara Budnik

The Enchanted Libraries of Chile: a story of transformation.

Friday, October 19, 2007
11:00am in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science building, Room 126

Click here for the PowerPoint slides

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Clara Budnik has been executive director of the Foundation for Democracy and Development in Santiago, Chile since 2006. Prior to that, she worked 14 years in Archives and Museums within the Chilean Directorate of Libraries, serving as the director during the last six years. Mrs. Budnik is an active member of three committees within the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions: Public Libraries, Latin American and Caribbean, and Freedom of Access to Information and Free Expression. She has been a consultant to the Organization of American States, assisting in creating networks for centers of documentation. She was a professor in the School of Librarianship at the University of Chile and has worked with various institutions in Venezuela promoting books and reading.

During the last 15 years Mrs. Budnik has launched numerous innovative projects and programs that have increased the influence and public knowledge of the role libraries, archives and museums play in Chile. Some of these include programs such as Chilean Memory; incorporating the library Miguelde Cervantes into the national library via portal; opening community libraries; increasing access to new technologies and computer training in public libraries, and the library of Santiago. Mrs. Budnik has specialized not only in the area of public libraries, but has done extensive work to promote reading and books for children.

Numerous projects have been implemented by the Chilean public libraries to bring books and reading closer to the people, while at the same time, changing the image people have of libraries. The last fifteen years of initiatives have brought pivotal change in the public libraries of Chile. At the forefront is their philosophical approach to community involvement, thus creating a unique library – community encounter. The policies implemented, both at the level of historic milestones, as well as the major initiatives generated during these last years, have triggered a change in the mentality of those who work in libraries, thus producing a real community-minded management and citizen participation.

The initiatives show how public libraries were conceived in Chile and maintained so that today they are democratic spaces that can tell their story. Public libraries have been the most democratic spaces in the society. Serving as a free meeting space without the confines of censorship, libraries are a place where citizen participation is born. Within them, there are no boundaries for creativity and ideas. With this aim, the enchantment of the Chilean public libraries is born.