Monday, February 25, 2013


Five Kyrgyzstani delegates participating in the Open World Program will spend March 1st -9th in the Columbus area meeting with representatives from area libraries and exploring the role of libraries as community centers of technology.

Located in the mountains of Central Asia, The Republic of Kyrgyzstan is home to more than 5 million people. In 1991, the country gained independence after the fall of the USSR and is currently a democratic federal republic with both a President and Prime Minister. Kyrgyzstan has a literacy rate of 98.7%, and the majority of the country’s internet users utilize public internet sources via libraries and cyber cafes. During their time in Central, Ohio, the delegates will explore how libraries act as community centers for technology use as well as how they provide access to public information through the internet. The delegates hope to return to Kyrgyzstan with new ideas, skills, and contacts to help put these concepts to practice after the program.

The Columbus International Program will host the delegation in partnership with the Council of International Programs, USA who administers various programs on behalf of Open World. Managed by the independent Open World Leadership Center under Congressional mandate, Open World is designed to enhance understanding and cooperation between the United States and Eastern European countries by developing a network of leaders who have gained significant, firsthand exposure to America’s process of small business development and implementation of business legislation. The Open World Leadership Center has awarded this grant to The Council of International Programs USA, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio to administer this and similar exchanges in 2012 and beyond. The Columbus International Program is an affiliate of CIP USA which was founded nearly 50 years ago by Henry Ollendorf. Mr. Ollendorf was a refugee from Germany living in Cleveland Ohio who felt the atrocities of World War II should never be repeated. Since its founding, CIP USA has hosted thousands of international professionals and training programs.

On Wednesday March 6, the delegation will meet with Ann Riegle of the New Madison public library where they will discuss operations of the library, coordination of library activities and fundraising for libraries located in rural areas similar to Kyrgyzstan. Following the tour of the New Madison library the guests will visit the library at Tri Village High School. After the meeting the guests will enjoy lunch with Ms. Riegle and the other librarians from Darke County to discuss coordination of library functions throughout the county. During their time in Ohio, the delegates will also meet with representatives from OCLC, OSU’s Thompson Library, Kent State Faculty in Library Science, OhioLINK, and the Columbus Metropolitan Library among others.

The visiting delegates are:

  • Aygerim Kurmanaliyeva - Department Head for Bayalinov Republican Children’s Library, American Corner.
  • Madina Sydykova - PR Director for Bayalinov Republican Children's & Youth Library
  • Irina Pak - Reference Librarian for the American University of Central Asia, located in Bishkek
  • Aynura Zakirova - Library Director for the Suzak District Library
  • Cholpon Bakirova of the Kyrgyz State University, will serve as facilitator for the group.

The U.S. Congress established Open World in 1999 and expanded the program in 2003 to all post-Soviet states. Thanks to Open World, some 14,000 current and future Eurasian leaders have experienced American civil society and have been exposed to new ideas and practices that they can adapt for use in their own work. Open World also promotes partnerships and continued communications between delegates and their American hosts and professional counterparts. Open World currently operates exchanges for political and civic leaders from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

For more information, please contact Mark Poeppelman, Executive Director of the Columbus International Program at 614-425-2268 or 221-0034 or Maura Shelden, Open World Public Affairs Officer at 202-707-6197. For more information on Open World, please visit

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