The National and University Library of Kosovo, Pristina. Photograph by Sabre's Tania Vitvitsky taken during a needs assessment visit to Kosovo in October.
One year after the official opening of the training center, the Information Technology Workshops program continues to make Internet training available to individuals and groups from developing countries. This year, Sabre welcomed trainees from 14 countries.
One recent participant, Mr. Mehmet Gerguri, Director of The National and University Library of Kosovo in Pristina, witnessed the deterioration of his library over the past decade. Because of the isolation of the Library and staff from the "information revolution" shaping the modern library, Mr. Gerguri's program at Sabre included Internet training and visits to libraries and a conservation center at Harvard University.
Several African countries were represented in the training room this year:
Kenya: Mr. Otieno Ombok, a law lecturer from the American University in Nairobi, focused on Internet resources in the field of intellectual property law.
Senegal: Mr. Joel Diedhiou, a librarian from Dakar, Senegal, included three days with Sabre in a week-long USAID-funded program organized by Boston-based Management Sciences for Health. His interests were electronic document delivery options and Internet-based sources for library acquisitions.
Tanzania: Two groups came from Tanzania. The first group of three was primarily interested in using the Internet to promote business and tourism in Tanzania. Consequently, the design and use of websites was an important aspect of the training. The second group of five focused on the integration of Internet technologies and "traditional" computer applications.
South Africa: Three NGO leaders, awarded Lewis Hoskins Fellowships by USAID and USIS-funded United States-South Africa Leadership Development Program, added three days at Sabre to their U.S itinerary. The leaders indicated that the training helped them appreciate the role of the Internet in non-profit organizations and community development projects.
Librarians continue to find Sabre's training valuable, especially as they are often called upon to provide training for library patrons and colleagues. Indeed, librarians from developing countries are just as concerned with keeping "up-to-date" on technology as their colleagues from the developed world. Sabre worked with librarians from Saratov and Karelia, Russia, a solo librarian from a management institute in Senegal (see above), and an education supervisor/librarian from Thailand. Visits to the world-renowned libraries in the Boston area were an invaluable aspect of the training program.
Seven of Sabre's partners from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union took advantage of a ten-day Internet workshop this past spring titled "The Internet's Contribution to NGO Sustainability and Growth."
Each of the trainees had a unique vision of how information technologies could enhance their work in their own country. According to the trainees, several characteristics make Sabre's program attractive to participants: flexible scheduling; hands-on computer instruction; professional visits and meetings built into the training schedule; and small group sizes allowing for one-on-one interaction with the trainer. The diverse professional backgrounds of the trainees testify to the wide appeal of Internet training.
Early in the coming year, Sabre and Vermont-based Project Harmony will host a group of talented teenagers from Bosnia & Herzegovina, who have been chosen to participate in a two week State Department-funded program because of the leadership skills they have demonstrated at their schools and in their communities.
Thanks to the generosity of a private donor, Sabre has provided training without charge for qualified participants or their sponsoring institutions. Beginning next year, Sabre will introduce a fee structure to cover the costs of training. The cost of travel to the Boston area, insurance and room and board is the responsibility of the participant or sponsor. Questions about the program can be addressed to Kimberly Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 617-868-3510. A complete program description is on Sabre's website at www.sabre.org.
As the new millenium approaches, the last year of the old one will mark a record number of book shipments sent overseas by Sabre - 28 containerized shipments are projected to be dispatched by December 31.
Among these is one of the most valuable collections ever donated to one country by Sabre - over 120,000 medical books (2,000 separate titles) with a retail value of over $10 million for Bulgaria. The donation (which was shipped in six 40 ft containers in May and June) comprised not only books but also a significant percentage of CD-ROMs and videocassettes.
Sabre has also worked cooperatively throughout the year with other organizations, most notably Peace Corps and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). Under a cooperative agreement signed with Peace Corps at the end of 1998, Peace Corps projects in Armenia, Ghana, Mongolia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan have received donated educational materials from Sabre's inventory, with planned shipments to Guyana, Namibia, Paraguay and Turkmenistan to follow before year end. In cooperation with IRC, Sabre sent shipments to Guinea and Liberia in aid of IRC refugee schools, with a portion of the Guinea container also earmarked for distribution in Sierra Leone. Other countries to have benefited from Sabre shipments in 1999 under the Michael W. Christian Program for Africa include Ghana, Kenya, and (for the first time) Angola and Somalia. Sabre continues to work cooperatively with Minnesota-based Books for Africa on many of its African shipments.
Sabre's two-year program in support of historically black universities and technikons (known collectively as Historically Disadvantaged Institutions, HDIs) in South Africa is well under way. A first shipment was distributed to the four HDIs in and around Pretoria, with University of Transkei, University of Fort Hare, Border Technikon and Eastern Cape Technikon scheduled to be the next institutions to receive Sabre materials.
Other countries receiving Sabre books in 1999 include Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, and the Russian Federation. The increased number of shipments during the year necessitated the expansion of Sabre's warehouse space by almost 50%. An additional full-time warehouse person was also hired.
In October of 1999, Sabre's Project Director traveled to Kosovo to carry out a needs assessment focusing on The National and University Library of Kosovo and the Pristina Municipal and Children's Libraries. The assessment was requested by the Office of International Information Programs at the Department of State (formerly USIA). Copies of the Donated Books Needs Assessment report are available upon request.
Richard M. Miles (center), U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria, at a press conference and book presentation ceremony at Sofia's University Hospital, September 29, 1999 (please see the story above). This event generated considerable media attention in Bulgaria, with broadcasts on Bulgarian National Television and almost all of the national press, reflecting the interest in such a large donation of much needed medical books. Ambassador and Mrs. Miles also hosted a reception for Sabre Board member Leonard J. Baldyga and Project Director Tania Vitvitsky and Dr. Ognian Shentov, President of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Sabre's Bulgarian partner organization. (Photo courtesy of Open Society Foundation, Bulgaria.)
A media auction held during the annual conference of the American Association of University Presses (AAUP) in June raised more than $16,000 to support Sabre Foundation's Bosnia Library Project. Nine publications donated advertising space bid on by representatives of university presses.
The highest bidders at the auction were:Modern Languages Association
Since 1996, the Bosnia Library Project has elicited donations from 21 university presses, resulting in shipments of over 32,000 scholarly monographs, primarily to the National and University Library in Sarajevo.
Sabre sponsored four university students from Eastern Europe through the State Department's Summer/Work Travel program. The students learned about American business practices through direct observation and internships at non-profit and for-profit businesses.
The work experience is a unique opportunity for young people from around the world to experience American culture through work and by taking part in social and community activities. Ms. Tatiana Manyulenko, a computer graphics student from Kyiv, Ukraine, redesigned Sabre's website and brought her computer skills to the Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard.
Mr. Karel Masek, an engineering student at the Czech Technical University, helped to improve Sabre's book database.
Mr. Eugene Bibik a medical student in Minsk, Belarus, worked at a family-owned inn in Rhode Island, which gave him a better understanding of running a successful small business.
Ms. Jasna Resulovic, an architecture student in Sarajevo, learned about the profession by working at an architecture firm in Boston.
Though Sabre's book program has far outgrown its origins in the philosophy program, book donation projects with a philosophical interest are especially welcome. One of these was a special purchase at reduced cost of two recent collections of essays by the late University of Chicago Professor Edward Shils, edited by Steven Grosby: The Virtue of Civility and The Calling of Education. Thanks to the generosity of the Earhart Foundation, the Liberty Fund Press and the University of Chicago Press, Sabre was able to assure that these works by one of America's leading social theorists will be available to scholars in 100 major university libraries in the former Eastern bloc. As with similar projects in the past, Columbia University Libraries' Gifts and Exchanges Department selected the recipient libraries, from which it will receive exchange materials to build its Slavic, Turkic, Armenian, Baltic and Balkan collections.
Sabre Foundation President, Kenneth G. Bartels, and First Lady of Tanzania, Anna Mkapa, at a signing ceremony in Cambridge. The September 14, 1999, ceremony marked the beginning of a formal partnership for both the book donation and information technology training programs between Sabre and the Equal Opportunities for All Trust Fund, a non-profit organization founded by Mrs. Mkapa.
At the June board meeting, Franz Colloredo-Mansfeld, Chief Financial Officer of the Cabot Industrial Trust and Senior Vice President of Cabot Partners of Boston, MA, was named to Sabre's Board of Directors. Mr. Colloredo-Mansfeld is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School. He is on the Board of Advisors of Gilbane Inc. and a director or trustee of numerous charitable organizations.
After nearly five years at Sabre, Reference Librarian Rebecca Schneider left Sabre to take a position with The Community Builders, Inc. in Boston, MA. Ms. Schneider played a key role in setting up Sabre's new Information Technology Training Center. Her good humor, dedication and organizational skills are missed by her Sabre colleagues.
In November, Ray Gillespie joined Sabre's staff as Program Officer. Mr. Gillespie comes to Sabre from Great Britain with extensive experience in programming and database design.
Mr. Gillespie takes the place of John Emery, who leaves Sabre in December for Washington, DC, where he begins training as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State. During his five years, Mr. Emery oversaw the conversion and development of Sabre's inventory database, and the book donation programs for Tibetan refugee schools in India and Nepal.
Bill Hantzis started working at Sabre's Clinton, MA, warehouse in June after working for thirty years as a Project Supervisor for Middlesex Building & Wrecking Co. Mr. Hantzis has been a long-time volunteer with a number of educational and charitable organizations in the Clinton area.
Public Relations Officer Claire Rosenson left Sabre in September to work as a free-lance editor for the journal POLIN: Studies in Polish Jewry, based at Brandeis University. Sabre is currently looking to fill the Public Relations/Development Officer position.
Donors are listed by their name and location.AMAC Sydney, Australia
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All contributions are fully tax-deductible (appreciated securities at their current market value.) Sabre's tax ID no. is 23-7042881.
A complete listing of financial donors will be available in the 1999 annual report.