You've probably heard of sister cities, but now a local man wants to set up a sister-libraries relationship with a library in China.
Tony Kuo, a Burnaby resident and international business and immigration consultant, has spent several years collecting and donating books to the Henan provincial library in China.
The sister-libraries idea is the latest development in his ongoing book exchange project, backed by the Burnaby Edmonds Lions Club (of which he's a member) and Cross-the-Taiwan-Straits Henan Association of Canada, a group Kuo founded.
Kuo claims to have sent nearly 40,000 English titles to the Chinese library over the past six years. The books are kept in a special section of the library in Henan and are available to the general public.
"This was the biggest book donation from the West to China ever," Kuo said. In the past, China has never wanted donated books (except for university texts) because of government censorship, according to Kuo. "We kind of broke the Iron Curtain."
As an expression of gratitude, Henan's deputy minister of culture administration - Li Xia - brought 1,000 Chinese books as a donation to the Burnaby Public Library for a special ceremony at the Willingdon branch on July 16.
"This is the biggest and longest cult tural exchange project between Canada and China," Kuo said. And now, Kuo wants to take the relationship to the level of sisterhood.
"I'm trying to push for a sister relationship - sister libraries," he said. "I hope the Burnaby Public Library and the Henan provincial library of China can eventually become sister libraries."
The sister-libraries concept is similar to sister-city relationships, which are based on agreements to strengthen business and cultural connections between two municipalities, sometimes worlds apart.
Burnaby has three sister cities, one in China, Korea and the U.S., but sister libraries are few and far between in Canada.
Kuo would like a sister libraries relationship that supports his ongoing book exchange project. He wants the two libraries to share online resources where possible, have patrons borrow books from each other's library and host cultural and community events together. He also wants an exchange program with library staff, where each visits the other's country to learn how they operate.
"It's not just about exchanging books. It's way more than that," Kuo said. "Burnaby has a huge Chinese population, so it makes sense."
Although Kuo is from Taiwan, he has familial ties to Henan. His father grew up in the impoverished central province but left for Taiwan when the communists took over.
"I always remembered my origin," Kuo said. "I was from Henan."
The sister-libraries concept isn't entirely novel.
The American Library Association, of which the Burnaby Public Library is a member, has a special committee encouraging sisterly ties.
Edel Toner-Rogala, Burnaby's sister-libraries idea with Kuo and said there are a number of factors to consider. chief librarian, has discussed the
"You don't enter into something like this lightly. You do look to your governance boards to make the final decision," she said. "It's fairly similar to what people understand sister-cities relationships are like."
What would a sister libraries connection look like? Toner-Rogala said there are a number of possibilities: Sending scrap books, slide presentations or video tapes to get a sense of what each library looks like cerdens and how it operates, or exchanging cultural ns. It materials. If the point Burnaby library . The is doing something for Chinese ionave, New Year, Henan's library may have books our or materials for a base cultural display, or they may want to learn about Canadian physician GALA Norman Burnaby Bethune, an important figure in Chinese culture, Toner-Rogala said.
"I think it certainly broadens our horizons. It gives us a point of contact. The more relationships we have, the richer our knowledge base is," Toner-Rogala said. "I think it has some really interesting possibilities for us. - I'll certainly be taking information forward to my board.
"By building relationships with libraries in different cultures, it allows us to help our own communities and serve our library members better, and there's a benefit any time we learn and understand another culture," Toner-Rogala said. "Whenever you have the opportunity to walk a mile in someone's shoes, you enrich your life."