Exploring the U.S. Through Libraries: An International Visitor Leadership Project for Mongolia

Libraries around the world are facing a common struggle. They strive to provide countless helpful resources to patrons, such as innovative opportunities, creative programming, and online accessibility tools but are having to do so with a tight budget. Mongolian libraries are more traditional in this sense. They currently provide literary resources to patrons but are now looking at finding creative ways to engage their community within the libraries, creating safe and accessible spaces. Mongolia has one of world’s lowest population densities but has recently seen an urban boom as different age groups seek more educational and job opportunities. With this in mind, Mongolian libraries are seeking technological, entrepreneurial, archival, and community-driven programs for both adult and children, so that they can better serve the modern needs of their communities.  

Global Ties KC began the year implementing a program that connected librarians from Mongolia and Kansas City for professional exchange. From January 28th to January 31st, 2024, Global Ties KC welcomed 8 Mongolian Librarians and Library Staff on an International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP), sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.  

 During their stay in Kansas City, our Mongolian visitors toured 6 library branches in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area and learned about the unique programs and resources that are available for patrons, which included the MakerSpace at the Johnson County Public Library, the Story Center at the Mid-Continent Public Library, the “RooBot” at the UMKC Miller Nichols Library, and programming at the specialized STEM library, Linda Hall Library of Science Engineering, and Technology. The conversations were around library sustainability, fundraising, digital equity and the libraries role in it, accessible programming, and shared challenges and solutions. They also participated in a Networking Hour hosted by the Kansas City Public Library, which provided them a chance to exchange insights with librarians within the Kansas City Public library system, and to share their own work and background. These experiences brought meaningful cultural and professional learning moments for both our Mongolian librarians and our Kansas City partners.  

The visitors went home with a network of partners within the Midwest, ideas for community-based programs, along with vital knowledge on how they can bring similar accessible and equitable programs to their own Mongolian communities.

Thank you to the Kansas City Public Library, Linda Hall Library of Science Engineering, and Technology, Miller Nichols Library at UMKC, Johnson County Library, and Mid-Continent Public Library for welcoming this group so warmly and engaging with their international counterparts with genuine interest in a cultural exchange of knowledge. Connections with partners like these make successful international visitor programs possible!