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Korean Sister-City Project: A Look at Cobb County Public Library System

Cobb County Public Library

Innovation Leader: Helen Poyer, Director, Cobb County Public Library System, Helen.poyer@cobbcounty.org

Problem Statement

Cobb County, of Georgia in the United States of America and Seongdong-Gu, City of Seoul in Republic of Korea established a Sister City relationship in October 2007. The two governments wanted to improve public relations and gain a better understanding of the library systems and other government and business entities in their communities . The two governments developed a relationship that promotes exchanges in various fields of business and government, one being the library systems.

Innovation

Cobb dignitaries recently visited Seongdong-Gu, Seoul, South Korea to foster the growing Sister City relationship. The trip included visits to local public libraries and the exchange of books and DVDs. Each library was asked to create a library exhibit. The Cobb Public Library System, with the assistance of the County’s Communications Department, produced a DVD that gives an overview of the library history, services, programs, staffing, and collections. The DVD is in English and Korean. Using the “READ” CD, Cobb Library System created “READ” posters featuring County Commissioners reading their favorite books with the United States flag as the background. Also, “READ” bookmarks were made featuring the Library Trustees reading their favorite books. The Commissioners and Trustees donated copies of their books that were included in the exhibit. Cobb sent a small collection of books written by Georgia authors such as Carson McCullers, Martin Luther King, Pat Conroy, W.E.B. DuBois and Terry Kay as well as books on the history of Cobb County. All books sent to Korea were donated. In exchange, the Cobb Library System received materials from Seongdong-Gu.

Progress

This project between two foreign governments has developed a friendly relationship that promotes the exchange of ideas and broadens the width of understanding between the two governments. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed to foster cooperation, to improve public relations, and to exchange ideas. A delegation from Cobb County journeyed to Seongdong-Gu in March 2010. At that time the library exhibits were exchanged. It was agreed that communication between the Cobb Library System and Seongdong-Gu Library would continue. Though a representative from the Cobb Library System was not part of the delegation, a Cobb County Commissioner presented the library with a collection of Korean books. He shared his experiences in and views of the Seongdong-Gu Libraries. The Cobb Library staff learned that our Korean library friends are not so different from us. We learned that they “loved” the “READ” posters!