Artem Artyushkov (l.) Bagdagul Samedova and Tazegul Hannyeva
Artem Artyushkov (l.) Bagdagul Samedova and Tazegul Hannyeva.

Tazegul Hannyeva, head of the Book Department and Bagdagul Samedova, head of the Information Desk at the National Library of Turkmenistan, in Ashgabat visited UNM last week on an exchange visit as part of the 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 Library with grants for computers and book preservation.

While at UNM, the visitors learned about 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. Adults in Ashgabat generally speak Russian or Turkmen, and English is the chosen second language for students.

During their visit, the Turkmen librarians worked at the reference desks, tried out the scanners, and searched the UNM Library online computer catalog - LIBROS. 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.

University Libraries experts who worked with the visiting librarians include Paulita  Aguilar, UNM 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.

In the past UNM has assisted the Turkmenistan National Library with information about book conservation and received a gift of books from that Library. 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.

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

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

Story by Nancy Brown-Martinez

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