Libraries Promoting the Right to Access Public Information

In September 2008 the “Law for Accessing Public Information” was approved, as an effort to promote this basic human right, citizen participation and transparency in the management of public institutions. However, many Guatemalan citizens are unaware of this right and the process of requesting public information, especially in rural areas. Our latest workshop was about teaching the young participants about this right, its background and how to take advantage of it through technology.

David Gaitán from Acción Ciudadana

In this occasion we had the presence of coordinators from Acción Ciudadana (Citizen Action) and the Transparency and Integrity Program from USAID. During the workshop every participant received an easy to understand guide about how to access public information, as well as the law and documents about promoting transparency and the struggle against corruption.

They also learned how to request information to public institutions through their websites. At the end of the workshop most of the youngsters had sent information requests to different public institutions, including the Ministry of Minery and the Ministry of Finances, about approval of minery licenses and the resources destined to their communities for education, among others.  Soon our participants will be sharing the results of these requests trough the library blogs.

Thanks to Rising Voices, Acción Ciudadana and the Transparency and Integrity Program, our libraries have taken another step forward in the promotion of the principles of open societies.

New Bloggers in Xela!

Last week we had our second workshop which was about the creation and management of blogs. The three libraries participating in this project have now their own blog and all the participants learned how to create new posts.


Besides the three libraries blogs everyone created a personal blog for those who want to write not only about the libraries activities and community issues but for more personal purposes. They were taught not only about what a blog is and how to manage it and update it; they also learned techniques to tell stories in more compelling ways. In this occasion we had the collaboration from Kara Andrade, a journalist who has been blogging and teaching about blogs since 1999 in the United States and Guatemala. She kept the youngsters attention throughout the workshops and shared her own story about when she began her first journalist activities when she was 6 years old, as she had to document a road trip that she did with her family to the United States. Using the learned story structure the participants presented personal and library stories and they were able to upload their pictures and write a short bio in their personal blogs.

Kara Andrade

Also collaborating with Kara was Bea Gallardo, an independent producer, who taught them about the meaning of blogging and how they could be useful for personal and community development.

At the end of the second day, Bea presented a documentary called “Granito” (small grain) which is about interviews and testimonies of the civil war in Guatemala. This is an educational documentary aimed to let people know, especially young, what really happened during those years. Unfortunately they had to run to catch the last bus back to their communities and we were not able to discuss it, but we will do so before our next workshop next week, which will be about the right to access public information.

By then these new community bloggers will have plenty of things to share and talk about.