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U.S. Department of State program brings Georgian visitors to St. Kate’s

Lela Turmanidze (left) listens in as Zurab Gaiparashvili shares information about his university with their translator, Nana Zhvania (right).
Lela Turmanidze (left) listens in as Zurab Gaiparashvili shares information about his university with their translator, Nana Zhvania (right).
Photo by Hilary Stein ’14

Five participants, accompanied by two interpreters, from the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program met with faculty from St. Kate’s Master of Library and Information Sciences (MLIS) on Wednesday to discuss library education in Georgia and the United States.

Georgia is a constitutional republic with a developing democracy and economy that's nestled between Russia and Turkey. St. Kate’s visitors included Giorgi Chichinadze, director of Akaki Tsereteli State University Library; Lela Turmanidze, director of Shota Rustaveli Batumi State University Library; Nana Karaulashvili, head of Telavi State University Library; Teona Kavelashvili, director of Ilia State University Library; Zurab Gaiparashvili, head of Tbilisi State University Library; and state department interpreters Manana Kvlividze and Nana Zhvania.

The visit, which included an hourlong meeting and a library tour on the St. Paul campus, was one of their many stops in the Twin Cities focused on “University Libraries in the U.S.” The group also met with faculty and librarians from the University of St. Thomas and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. A series of meetings with colleagues in Utah was next on their 18-day travel agenda.

MLIS Assistant Professors Sherri Ross and Kyunghye Yoon, and Associate Professor David Lesniaski were on hand to share details about their courses and emerging trends for training future librarians. At the meeting, Librarian Jim Newsome provided an overview of St. Kate’s history and library holdings, and later led the library tour.

Georgia does not offer a library science degree or specific courses in library education, according to the visitors. But it does have an active national library association and a shared system for cataloging. One reason for their trip to the United States, says Kavelashvili, is to explore the possibility of offering a library science degree or major at one of their universities.

The U.S. Department of State’s professional exchange program offers current and emerging foreign leaders in a variety of fields the opportunity to cultivate lasting relationships with their American counterparts. The United States established diplomatic relations with Georgia in 1992 following Georgia’s 1991 independence from the Soviet Union.

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Jan. 24, 2013 by Pauline Oo

See also: Faculty, Leadership