"Scientists will say that we are made of atoms, but a little bird told me that we are made of stories" this was said by a great man we lost this week, Eduardo Galeano. Those stories that make us often told and found in books. And the latter in turn, is found in libraries. And the ones that are opened to everyone are the public ones. There are over a thousand.
The Humane National Library Commission (CONABIP, for its acronym in Spanish) "is responsible for promoting and financially supporting these spaces." In 2013, when the General Audit Office (AGN, for its acronym in Spanish) evaluated its management it depended on the then Secretariat of Culture, today a Ministry.
How much money goes to popular reading? 31% of the prizes won in sweepstakes, contests, sports betting and horse racing bets.
What is the good news? Many of the most important aspects of libraries work properly.
The CONABIP is in responsible promoting these topics. Its main objective "is to assist in the construction, renovation and building improvements, greater integration between all of them and also contribute to circulating services (mobile libraries, boat libraries, and traveling bags)".
During 2013, the year evaluated, "there were 1,148 establishments that received a total of $ 54 million pesos in grants."
In this topic, equity and inclusion are not empty words that are part of a political campaign but are the result of the correct functioning of these libraries.
The Book Program allows library representatives to travel to the Book Fair, held in the City of Buenos Aires, to acquire material for 50% less than their commercial value. The amount financed "is equivalent to the value of the tickets, hotel costs, mobility, four dinners, seven luncheons and money for the purchase of books."
If they are not traveling, the CONABIP "gives them the possibility to ask libraries for the books they want and they are sent, up to 100 texts."
This dual mode allows all public libraries across the country to have materials, and guarantees freedom of choice, avoiding possible publishing monopolies and assuring that the process is transparent.
The audit team noted that purchases made in this context "were managed correctly."
On the other hand, the AGN highlighted as a positive the National Digital Inclusion Plan which aims to "expand opportunities for access to information and knowledge to the most disadvantaged, either by a geographical, economic or social issue."
This project consists of "one CONABIP portal through which every library has a user and allows you to perform various steps online; DigiBePé Management System through which the catalogs, partners, statistics and reports are updated and subsidies so that each library has computers and WiFi networks." In addition, there is "a free catalog that has all the works in a single and easily accessible to users and nodes of technical assistance and training records."
Specifically on the DigiBePé System the AGN noted that "it made it possible to achieve a collective catalog with bibliographic records of all public libraries." To this it is added that "it provides support in the training are because most courses are done remote.”
It’s important to point out that there are very few cases where audit reports show positive results.
The audit noted that "the Procedures Manual regulations had inconsistencies." Among the most important we can cite that "before the term of no show accountability CONABIP subsidy shall disqualify the institution for new benefits." But "for this to occur, the Commission should establish deadlines for surrender." To account for the running costs "there are no deadlines."
We checked, in fact, cases that were pending renditions by public libraries as one for $ 35 000, delivered in December 2012 and another of $ 3,762 received in January 2014.
On the liquidation of the subsidies provided under the Book Program the AGN saw "some calculations that are not consistent with those provided by the Watchdog." Some libraries "despite being in the same province received a different amount."
In Chaco, for example, "every library in Resistencia should have received $10,160 according to estimates provided by the CONABIP." However, "there was one that received $598, another $1,947, another $4,601 and only one who obtained the grant for the correct amount." The AGN "could not find any explanation for the differences."
In fact, the report notes that "some received the benefit twice, in April and October, although the Fair is held on the first date."
CONABIP notifies the libraries on the result of the rendering of the subsidies but "there is no record that they are sent or received by them."
On the same note, there is no assurance that these public centers "enter the website to submit applications for special projects of benefit, whether work, repairs or improvements." Therefore, the AGN recommends that "the software tool should be accompanied by other libraries to ensure that they are aware of all the benefits offered by the CONABIP".