Alberto Abello was selected as director of the Luis Angel Arango Library 19 months ago. He went through a rigorous selection process that also had to face six more candidates. Technical tests were done. They interviewed them several times and evaluated their resumes. The one of Abello gave account of the 34 years to the service of the culture, its management and the academy.
His experience in programs associated with the promotion of reading, his publications, support for the García Márquez House Museum and the Museum of the Caribbean, led the Board of the Republic Bank to appoint him to head the largest library in the country.
What is striking is that, one year and seven months after serving as director, Abello submitted his resignation to the position. He sent an email to the bank’s assistant manager telling him that “it was time for his retirement.” He worked until November 21. In a text that he shared explaining the reasons for his resignation, he wrote: “My friends ask about my retirement from the address of the Luis Ángel Arango Library.
I want to inform you that it was personal reasons that led me to request it … So, I was linked until last November 21st. I thank the bank, of course, for the opportunity to learn and contribute to this magnificent network of libraries for 19 months. The managers have a report of my management.
I say personal reasons for the intimate reflections that led me to make the decision. The philosopher and professor at the University of Barcelona Carmen Pardo, taught me with her work ‘In the silence of culture’ that ‘being a lover of the arts [and of culture in general, I say] does not prevent being an employee willing to to operate a system that exerts violence on each and every one of the gears’.
I was immersed in that and I was wondering if the cultural management itself could be a factor in generating discomfort among those who carry it out. My career in the field of culture, on the other hand, has put me on the side of those who believe that culture can contribute to the well being of those who live and work in the social fabric and leave traces of civilization.
I came to speak to my students in the universities of that sap [as is the culture] of the so-called development in its version of process in search of human transformation and cultural freedoms. I had learned to work in collaborative spaces, of intellectual tolerance, and in institutions at the service of the people and the country and not of those who place them at their service. Increasingly incompatibilities with those who in one way or another are willing ‘to operate a system that exerts violence on each and every one of the gears’. ”
With the resignation of Abello, there are already three people who, in less than four years and after very little time in the direction, resign. The questions are many: a system that exerts violence on each and every one of the gears? Who are those who, according to him, have put culture at the service of their own interests? What kind of incompatibilities led him to make the decision to resign? El Espectador spoke with Alberto Abello, who replied that the reasons for his decision were exposed in the aforementioned text.
The reactions were coming as the news broke. The writer Alonso Sánchez Baute referred to the fact in a column called “Imposed culture” published in El Heraldo, which asked about the real reasons that, in less than five years, the library is preparing to receive its fifth director: “It was known that a researcher and cultural manager of the Caribbean with a long history had arrived at the BLAA. , characterized by its seriousness and efficiency.
Could it be that another Andean director comes to manage a network of libraries that covers a large part of the national territory and not only that of Bogotá? Or, then, why did the chair run to Abello if he was such a good boy? Maybe because the media was highlighting their work? That of the new collections acquired and donated, the findings in their collections, the greater opening for research, the participation of more diverse publics. It’s all good news that some people seem to be stinging, “Baute wrote.
Also pronounced the former director of the library, Alexis de Greiff, one of the aforementioned professionals, who resigned the position in 2015. De Greiff is a physicist at the Universidad de los Andes and came to the library to replace Margarita Garrido, who He held himself in management for six years.
“As a former director of the BLAA, I can say that not only has the position been unstable (in 10 years there have been more than in the previous 50); Someone says what has changed in the BLAA since the departure of Jorge Orlando Melo; Will we be the next directors all so incompetent? Little has been done, I admit with frustration and sadness. It is worth noting that 4 directors of the BlAA have passed.
Also two general managers. Also the Manager to whom the Cultural Assistant Manager reports. Only one person has remained in his position in these years. But it seems that it is immovable. The mystery is why … but more important: what the Bank Board says about this evidence of lack of leadership and clarity in what the cultural area wants. I would invite the General Manager to speak with former directors of BLAA, of Bank Museums and who nowadays work with the Cultural Deputy Manager of Banco la República.
And I would also invite Dr. Angela Pérez (the deputy manager of marras) to take stock of her more than 10 years of ‘management’, “he said in his Facebook account. of Bank Museums and those who now work with the Cultural Deputy Manager of Banco la República.
And I would also invite Dr. Angela Pérez (the deputy manager of marras) to take stock of her more than 10 years of ‘management’, “he said in his Facebook account. of Bank Museums and those who now work with the Cultural Deputy Manager of Banco la República. And I would also invite Dr. Angela Pérez (the deputy manager of marras) to take stock of her more than 10 years of ‘management’, “he said in his Facebook account.
De Greiff also said, in dialogue for Espectador, that he would not refer to Abello’s resignation, but that he did consider the discussion regarding the intermittencies in this position and, above all, the use of resources for the cultural wing of the Banco de la República was an emergency. “The network of libraries that the Banco de la República has does not have any other country in Latin America. A long-term policy is needed that retakes the leadership that this institution had, one that integrates all the areas (library, art, music, history), and that it remembers in the same direction of the board of directors and the addresses of the libraries, museums and music programs “.
An argument similar to that of De Greiff exposed on Facebook could be read in a text published on the website The Two Banks , in which Iván Gallo spoke that one of the causes of the departure of Abello is an alleged malaise generated by Angela Perez, deputy manager of the cultural area of the Banco de la República.
This newspaper tried to communicate with Angela Perez, but bank staff replied that she was out of the country and would not give statements. Sofia Restrepo, head of outreach to the cultural sub-administration, was also sought, who pointed out that the institution’s internal policy is not to pronounce on its “human resource”.
The response of Abello and the opinion of De Greiff, two of the three professionals who have preferred to distance themselves from the management of the bank in record time, reveal that the discomfort referred to by Sánchez Baute or Gallo are not isolated opinions and that the way the one that is managing the culture from the interior of Banco de la República has not been the most comfortable for the last three people who have held the position.
The two referred to interests other than cultural and a difficult working environment in which it could be addressed because of the impositions of a system that, according to them, moves around processes that are far from the urgencies of the sector that brings together to literature, art, history or music.
The imbalance in the direction of the Biblioetca Luis Angel Arango has implications in the development of each of the projects that are intended to be carried out. In addition to the attention to the arts, its tools and dissemination, the stability that has characterized the institution is also paramount in the administration of resources.
The Banco de la República and its cultural venues are the highest references at a national level in the sector, and the discussion now is inclined towards what the board of directors plans with respect to the management of those resources, which are gems for Colombia.
Regarding the management of Alberto Abello, the reactions have been of surprise and disappointment. Its management was highlighted, above all, by the celebration of the 60 years of the Luis Angel Arango, in which the country was reunited with a living library.
Donations from Mercedes Barcha, the 3,000 books from the private collection of García Márquez, the trust and sympathy that was achieved with the researchers and the La Candelaria neighborhood, and the processes carried out internally with attention to the public and the meticulous selection of the personnel in charge of each detail of the internal functioning.
Jaime Arocha, columnist of this newspaper, worked with him during his period as director and affirmed that the news of his resignation fell like a cold water ballast: “I reaffirmed the wonder of the person I had met. He always maintained his Caribbean identity, its openness, kindness and warmth. In addition to the magnificent relationship he established between the library and his neighborhood. “