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December 2009.

Independent libraries on Cuba

To the day 50 years after Fidel Castro held his first victory-speech in the capital city we arrive at Havana airport. Fifty years of Revolution in the Caribbean. Sarah and I, Maarten, have come to Cuba as part of a youth delegation of IKV Pax Christi for a very special reason: visit and bring books to Independent Libraries.

In two and a half weeks we visited around 15 libraries to confirm they still exist, how they are doing, to hand them books and by physically being present support the initiative of the librarians. In addition we note down our conversations with them to later share them with the world, as they themselves have no voice on the island. These accounts are present here on this website, while a selection of photos I made are touring across several public libraries in Gelderland (province in The Netherlands) during 2010.

In the menu on the left you will find the places we visited and the stories of 9 of the libraries and librarians we encountered. In the Introduction there is more information about how the Bibliotecas Independientes came to grow from a personal initiative to a whole network of home-based-libraries. There is some more background information on this project and what you yourself can contribute, would you have plans to visit Cuba.


photography: Maarten Zeehandelaar