Turkmeni Librarians Visit the University of New Mexico

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UNM University Libraries recently hosted two librarians from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, for a three day visit. They are Tazegul Hannyeva, Head of the Book Department and Bagdagul Samedova, Head of the Information Desk Department, both from the National Library of Turkmenistan, in Ashgabat. Their visit was sponsored by the Albuquerque Sister Cities Foundation, Inc.

While at UNM, the visitors wanted to learn about our customer service, reference, online book and archive access, digitization of rare materials and e-books. The Turkmenistan National Library is interested in internet access for their collections to help improve the education and lives of their people. The local adults generally speak Russian or Turkmen and English is the chosen second language for their young students.

During their visit, the Turkmen librarians worked at the reference desks, tested the scanners, and searched the UNM Library online computer catalog. They also tried out the University Libraries Center for Southwest Research and Special Collection's (CSWR) online resources - the Rocky Mountain Online Archive, New Mexico Digital Collections and the New Mexico Statehood site. In addition, they learned about the CSWR's National Digital Newspapers Program and two other forthcoming programs - the Searchable Ornithological Research Archive and the Open Access Journals Portal.

The folks from University Libraries who provided tours, training and hands on practice included Paulita Aguilar, Indigenous Nations Library Program; Claire-Lise Benaud, CSWR Pictorial Archives; Sever Bordeianu, Cataloging; Nancy Brown Martinez, CSWR Reference; Kevin Comerford, Digital Initiatives Librarian; Steve Harris, Director of Collections and Acquisitions; Eileen Hogan, CSWR Conservation and Pictorial Archives; Silvia Lu and Jason Shoup, Zimmerman Access Service Librarians and Ann Massmann, CSWR Public Services Librarian.

The group also visited the New Mexico State Records Center and Archives and the New Mexico State Library, in Santa Fe. While in Albuquerque they visited several public libraries, Cleveland High School and Georgia O'Keefe Elementary School, as well as tribal libraries at Acoma, Laguna and Jemez Pueblos.

The librarians came on a Sister Cities - Sister Libraries International Peace, Friendship and Economic Development Program. The trip was planned and funded by Albuquerque Sister Cities and the U.S. Embassy in Turkmenistan, which has assisted the Ashgabat National Library with grants for computers and book preservation.

Alana McGrattan, Reference Librarian at CNM, Rio Rancho Campus, and a member of the American Library Association International Relations Committee, sponsored the group while they were in Albuquerque. The librarians were accompanied by Russian speaking translators provided by Sisters Cities - Mr. Artem Artyushkov of Albuquerque and Jennifer Stubbs from the Ruidoso Public Library.

Plans are underway to organize a group of New Mexico Librarians to visit and provide technical expertise to the Turkmenistan National Libraries sometime in 2013.