Libraries promote tolerance and support peace in society

Libraries in general, and public libraries in particular, play an active role in times of armed conflict. Many spaces that at one time were affected by the violence, or threatened by urban guerrilla units, or common criminals, have been transformed by the creation of library-linked reading programs, generating new dynamics of access to culture in communities, especially written culture, allowing “the recovery of hope to compensate for their lives, their dignity as persons, the creation of opportunities for security and the return of trust in the social environment” (Jaramillo, 2012: 78).

After the signing of the peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP, for its acronym in Spanish), different sectors of society, including libraries, have used the slogan ‘May the War Rest in Peace’ as a way to put the armed conflict behind them. As a result, the Ministry of Culture, through the National Library and the National Network of Public Libraries, launched the Mobile Libraries for Peace program in 2017. This is a program that seeks, in the rural Veredales areas, to help demobilized FARC-EP guerrillas to step back into civilian life. It is comprised of twenty libraries with services focused on reading and IT skills.

Other actions that have been developed are:

  • In August 2016 Redprodepaz created the first library specializing in peace and development. The Library Alma Rosa Jaramillo L. is made up of a bibliographic, digital and audiovisual collection and offers services from Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
  • Since September 2016, the Network of Public Libraries of Cali has included the final peace agreement between the government and the FARC in the collection of the 61 libraries of the network, as well as promote reading aloud on a weekly basis in different libraries.
  • The V National Congress of Public Libraries took place in October 2016, bringing together librarians from around the country to analyze the subject “Public Libraries as scenarios for peace”.

These and other actions demonstrate the interest that the Colombian library community has shown in the joint construction of peace and show the role of the libraries as key institutions not just in the current process of implementing the peace agreement, but in general, in the process of human civilization.


*International Advocacy Programme (IAP) Participants from Colombia.