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HiperBarrio: the social role of Libraries

The HiperBarrio project in Colombia has taken advantage of the Medellín's network of library park facilities which include internet rooms to teach the citizen media skills to young people from the working class northern hills.

Catalina Restrepo Martinez writes [es] about her experience being a participant in the outreach projects by HiperBarrio in the libraries of San Javier La Loma :

From a very young girl I was a faithful visitor of libraries because I believe in spaces filled with calm and wisdom. But I have always questioned the social role they have played. I have been a faithful witness of not very cordial treatment by some officials to their users, but also there are some who stand out for their kindness.

Between them, I found the proposal of Gabriel Vanegas to be part of ConVerGentes, and this is how the library visits were more meaningful. It has became almost a third house (Mommy, if I am not at home or at university, I am in the library), and space for catharsis along with the ConVerGentes group.

Now, I visit the library for consultations, posting on my blog, meet with the ConVergentes, and up to sing.

We can get an idea of how the participants are enjoying their citizen media trainings from this video by Carmen Paniagua.

The HiperBarrio bloggers are using the tools they have learnt in their daily lives. They have followed the Colombia Peace concert online besides TV. Juliana Rincon reports:

Carolina decided to experiment with microblogging formats, and twitted the concert, informing everyone of what was going on in real time. You can read it on her twitter page.

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Photo Mil Ojo: Participants helping each other to open email accounts and blogs

Gabriel Vanegas writes [es] about the workshop on March 28, 2008:

Yesterday was a day with many things, including the “Workshop for conducting blogs” for a group that youths who had watched with expectation, throughout these 10 months. They have seen from afar the enthusiasm of other young library users off the Internet and its possibilities.

Of the twenty-two participants, twelve were novices, and only four had gone through the experience of creating a Blog.

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Photo Mil Ojo: Discussion on why they are opening blogs and what do they want

A participant Diego Magno said “we are gathered here because we have something to say.”

Some of the participants have innovative ideas for their blogs. For an example the title of the blog of Alvarogov is “Altera tus Sentidos!!!(Alter your senses)” [es]:

“This blog is dedicated to the senses and any change in the perception of these, the other describing the 5 senses known to all of us, there are studies supporting and find that there are other types of ways, all relating to the touch or feeling physics, for example the heat and the absence of this (cold), the pain, among others.”

Juliana Rincon reports that Hiperbarrio have extended their outreach efforts towards Caldas municipality, located south of Medellin. They will be teaching citizen media tools to Diverseres, a groups of young people from Caldas.

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Photo: HiperBarrio – New Hiperbarrio group in Caldas, to the south of Medellin

Diverseres has been working for the past two years in topics geared to other young people like them in their community. Their work has been around raising awareness among the youth in their community regarding sexuality, drug addiction and ecology. Now, with the use of online tools they are expectant of being able to publish online accounts of their activities, promote their efforts through the internet and extend the results to other youth groups in their town.

* The Spanish [es] quotes were translated with the help of machine translation.

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