Libraries without boarders
Category of Humanitarian Benefit: Disaster Relief and Recovery, Knowledge Sharing
Short Biography/Background of the Nominee: Kat Trujillo is the Deputy Director at Libraries Without Borders, a nonprofit committed to expanding access to life-saving information and services around the world. In this role, she has created pop-up libraries and makerspaces in Detroit, the Bronx, Washington, D.C., Ecuador and most recently, Puerto Rico. Prior to joining Libraries Without Borders, she worked on human rights, immigration and education policy at Humanity in Action, the White House Domestic Policy Council, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the National Head Start Association. Kat is a proud Cal alum and a recipient of the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, which funded her studies at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. She also holds a law degree from the Transitional Justice Institute at Ulster University, where she studied as a George Mitchell Scholar. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, California.
Project Name and Description: Re-imagining Recovery & Rebuilding Puerto Rico: How Libraries Can Build Resilient
Humanitarian Benefit: Over the summer, I had the honor of launching a pop-up library and makerspace pilot program in Puerto Rico, which focused on providing the communities of La Perla and Loíza with informal learning opportunities and internet access. For nearly three months, I built relationships with the residents of these communities and organized enrichment activities aligned with their needs and interests. I also leveraged the transformative potential of our pop-up library, the Ideas Box, to host workshops on a variety of topics: the environment, virtual reality, blockchain technology, STEM, marine health, water quality, microplastics, digital literacy, basic literacy, and arts and culture.
By partnering with local organizations, namely the Rotary Club of San Juan, Link, HiveCube, Response Innovation Lab, Puerto Rico Science Trust, we were able to re-imagine the role that libraries could play in communities across Puerto Rico, especially in the aftermath of a disaster like Maria. Beyond brick and mortar buildings brimming with books, our pop-up libraries served as resource centers—places where all members of the community could go to learn new skills, borrow tools, participate in workshops and regain a sense of normalcy after trauma. By merging libraries with makerspaces, we equipped communities with the tools and training needed to repair broken solar panels, install water purification systems, submit their claims to FEMA—you name it! Through this approach, we created de facto centers of innovation and regeneration where community members could prepare for and take charge of their futures. Over the course of three months, this program reached more than 300 community members. We estimate that with the proper funding and personnel support, we will be able to scale up the program, serving more than 1, 000 men, women and children across Puerto Rico by the end of 2019. Moreover, because we are redesigning our pop-up library model and plan to manufacture all subsequent pop-up libraries entirely in Puerto Rico, we anticipate creating 32 new jobs on the island. Through this approach, we will also cut the cost of manufacturing and transporting pop-up libraries by more than 30%, making it easier to set-up new libraries throughout the Western Hemisphere