Romeo Rodriguez is a Development Officer for Beyond Access partner Riecken Community Libraries, representing a network of 64 community libraries in Guatemala and Honduras. Recently, he spoke with us about the library in San Juan la Laguna’s new business center, his experience at the Beyond Access 2012 conference, and his plans for technology in the libraries.
RR: The business center was inaugurated on February 15 this year. It was implemented to support local producers and improve their income generation activities. So far, most of the beneficiaries are women weavers working to improve their business.
The biggest success has been the great acceptance that this project has had in the community. A big challenge is always sustainability, but we already have the commitment of the local government, and also the beneficiaries have committed to support it, since they feel that the project and the space is of their own.
BA: What activities or projects has your library planned that you are most excited about?
RR: Besides the business center, which is a pilot that we intend to replicate in the rest of our libraries in the future, we have a GPS mapping project in 4 different libraries. These maps are helping to rescue historical, sacred and natural sites. the communities decide what they want to map, including territorial limits or specific areas to plant certain crops, for instance. In San Juan la Laguna, the women weavers have created maps to indicate the location of their houses and cooperatives so potential buyers can find them easily.
BA: Has any of your work been influenced by the ideas or conversations you encountered at Beyond Access 2012?
RR: One of my responsibilities is to present our work to different audiences, and during the Beyond Access conference I learned about new strong arguments to advocate for our libraries by listening and talking with different participants and speakers.