A kitchen in the library: the Espai Cuines del Món at the Biblioteca del Fondo (Santa Coloma de Gramenet)

 

[Versió catalana] [Versión castellana]


Mariona Chavarria Domingo

Library Director
Biblioteca del Fondo
Xarxa de Biblioteques de Santa Coloma de Gramenet

 

Abstract

Dedicated to world cuisine, the Espai Cuines del Món of the library the Biblioteca del Fondo in Santa Coloma de Gramenet is at once a physical space and an ongoing cultural project. Its basic design is fully oriented towards social cohesion, integrating on the one hand the rich cuisine of a highly multicultural neighbourhood with the aim of empowering its communities and promoting the district, and, on the other, reinforcing the interest that exists in Santa Coloma in cooking, food and nutrition. These two objectives come together in a physical space at the centre of the library where a fully-equipped kitchen serves for both presentations for large audiences and small workshops in which people interact. Because it approaches food and nutrition from a cultural perspective, the Espai is also part of the municipal project "Santa Coloma-Ciutat Universitària".

The Espai programme includes activities led by local associations, shops and restaurants, other municipal services and the library itself. There are three kinds of activities: academic, informational/training and social. The socially-oriented activities are planned by the library team with the participation of neighbourhood organizations that use the kitchen to support and empower community members through cooperative work, including small-scale cooking courses and other activities designed to reinforce participants’ self-esteem.

An important part of the project is the Espai’s Special Collection, which contains some 600 documents on cultural aspects of cooking and food from around the world.

Resum

L'Espai Cuines del Món de la Biblioteca del Fondo, de Santa Coloma de Gramenet, és un espai físic i un projecte cultural que va néixer plenament orientat cap a la cohesió social. Integra, d'una balnda, la riquesa gastronòmica d'un barri altament multicultural amb l'objectiu d'apoderar les diverses comunitats que hi són presents i potenciar el barri, i, de l'altra, les dinàmiques que existeixen a la ciutat de Santa Coloma a l'entorn de la cuina i dels aliments. Les dues línies conflueixen en un espai físic al centre de la Biblioteca, amb una cuina totalment equipada i preparada tant per a presentacions per a un públic nombrós com per a petits tallers que generin intercanvi entre els comensals. Forma part del projecte municipal "Santa Coloma, Ciutat Universitària", per tot el que fa referència a la gastronomia i nutrició des de la perspectiva cultural.

La programació acull propostes de l'entorn, d'altres serveis municipals i de la mateixa biblioteca. Les activitats són de tres nivells: les acadèmiques, les informatives/formatives i les que tenen un caire més social, amb activitats pròpies de la Biblioteca, així com en col·laboració amb entitats del barri que utilitzen la cuina dins de les seves dinàmiques de suport i promoció de les persones (treball col·laboratiu, confiança, petits aprenentatges culinaris).

Una part important del projecte Cuines del Món és el Fons Especial Cuines del Món que aplega uns sis-cents documents sobre la cuina d'arreu del món des d'una perspectiva cultural.

Resumen

El Espai Cuines del Món de la Biblioteca del Fondo, de Santa Coloma de Gramenet, es un espacio físico y un proyecto cultural que nació plenamente orientado hacia la cohesión social. Integra, por un lado, la riqueza gastronómica de un barrio altamente multicultural con el objetivo de empoderar a las diversas comunidades que están presentes y potenciar el barrio, y, por otro, las dinámicas que existen en la ciudad de Santa Coloma en el entorno de la cocina y de los alimentos. Ambas líneas confluyen en un espacio físico en el centro de la Biblioteca, con una cocina totalmente equipada y preparada tanto para presentaciones para un público numeroso como para pequeños talleres que generen intercambio entre los comensales. Forma parte del proyecto municipal "Santa Coloma, Ciutat Universitària", en tanto que aproximación a la gastronomía y nutrición desde una perspectiva cultural.

La programación acoge propuestas del entorno, de otros servicios municipales y de la misma biblioteca. Las actividades son de tres niveles: las académicas, las informativas/formativas y las que tienen un carácter más social, con actividades propias de la Biblioteca, así como en colaboración con entidades del barrio que utilizan la cocina dentro de sus dinámicas de apoyo y promoción de las personas (trabajo colaborativo, confianza, pequeños aprendizajes culinarios).

Una parte importante del proyecto Cuines del Món es el Fons Especial Cuines del Món que reúne unos seiscientos documentos sobre la cocina de todo el mundo desde una perspectiva cultural.

 

1 Introduction

The role of the public library has evolved in recent times. Its mission goes from offering spaces solely for reading or studying to more community models that offer much broader activities are carried out in dialogue with the sourrounding environment and, above all, that require new spaces. That's why a kitchen, known as Espai Cuines del Món, has been installed in the Santa Coloma de Gramenet Biblioteca del Fondo.

Cuines del Món is, therefore, a kitchen, but above all it is a project that aims to create mutual relationships and exchanging knowledge through gastronomy, which helps us to know our neighbors better: their culture, their beliefs, and even the geography and climate of their land of origin. From this perspective, the most common workshops and most focused on the desire to work social and cultural cohesion are those that, with the idea of human libraries (Wentz, 2012), encourage community members to share their knowledge with their fellow citizens. These workshops include and seize people from the various neighborhood cultural communities, and want to promote cultural exchanges between people from different cultural and social backgrounds. In this way, in addition, the "human library" connects the library to the public. The public library shares the community with itself, offering a space in which individuals contribute their experiences and communicate with each other (Wentz, 2012)

The Cuines del Món project is geared towards fostering social cohesion, designed from the will to be a source of knowledge and exchange, innovation, creativity and peaceful coexistence in a culturally diverse neighbourhood, in order to strengthen community ties, beyond confronting the complexity of the coexistence of different identities (Togores, 2015, p.50). Because as Kim (2014) affirms: "While a kitchen in the library may seem a surprise or a luxury, these trendsetting buildings are using their new kitchen facilities to help patrons connect to their community, learn more about healthy living, feed their families better, express their creativity, [...] —all core to the library mission".

The kitchen is not an annex; It is a central part of the mission of the Biblioteca del Fondo.

 

Figure 1. From the leaflet Cuines del Món-Biblioteca del Fondo (november de 2016). Photo: Mariona Chavarria

Figure 1. From the leaflet Cuines del Món-Biblioteca del Fondo (november de 2016). Photo: Mariona Chavarria

 

2 The Fondo neighbourhood and the origin of the project Cuines del Món (World cuisines)

The creation of Santa Coloma de Gramenet as a city, and the Fondo area as a neighbourhood, are linked to the reception of the original population from many parts of Spain and, lately, from around the world. The Fondo neighbourhood is the most populated one in the municipality, with 16,751 inhabitants; and welcomes, from the beginning of the 21st century, the largest amount of foreign immigration in the city (currently 40.19%) (Municipal Register of Inhabitants, 2015). Although the Fondo is known as one of the metropolitan Chinatowns,1 due to the visibility that the Chinese community gives to commercial life, its reality is much more diverse. Thus, despite the large concentration of Chinese population, this represents 16% of the total population of the neighbourhood. In fact, in the Fondo today there are more than one hundred different nationalities, almost half of which are foreign (one third corresponds to China) (Bardají; Chavarria, 2016).

The functional program of the Library was being established at the same time as the architectural project of the multifunctional building of El Fondo began; a building where the Municipal Market, a supermarket, a nursery school and the library were to be located (Biblioteca del Fondo, 2006). Bearing in mind the multicultural environment, it was clear that the project should allow and promote the relationship and the exchange between the multiplicity of nationalities that coexist in the neighbourhood of Fondo with all the content of tradition, language and customs that they carry with them. Based on this reality, the recognition of diversity was considered through different objectives: to create and consolidate respect and recognition of the other; promote social inclusion; promote the mix of cultures, sexes, ages, etc.; facilitate meeting and participation spaces; generate feelings of belonging to the group and the city; encourage positive values such as participation, tolerance and respect among users, and meet the needs of participation in the world of culture of the users as a whole (Santa Coloma de Gramenet, 2013). Through this, something was sought to connect all cultures, a common fact, a daily action. Gastronomy is a great metaphor for unity in diversity. Feeding is the most important thing throughout life, a daily activity that takes time and thought. And gastronomy is presented as an optimal starting point to achieve the objective of cultural cohesion in the territory (Bardají; Chavarria, 2016).

 

Figure 2. The building, seen from Plaça Nova del Fondo. Photo: Simón García

Figure 2. The building, seen from Plaça Nova del Fondo. Photo: Simón García

 

In Santa Coloma de Gramenet there are also important initiatives related to gastronomy: the Campus of Food of the University of Barcelona in Torribera; the catering school; Among the many good restaurants in the city, there is Ca n'Armengol and Lluerna, which has a Michelin star, and there are experiences such as the gastronomic exhibition Sabors del Món, organized until 2016 by the Association of merchants from the FondoComerç neighborhood. All in all, the culinary theme is especially relevant for the city, and hence the specialization of the Library is oriented towards the field of multicultural gastronomy. When they began to lay the foundations to create a special documentary collection in world kitchens, the idea or the possibility of having a physical kitchen where cooking and eating was also being set up, and thus passed on the theory of documents In practice, pedagogy and the dissemination of content. Little by little the idea came to fruition by placing a kitchen at the very heart of the Library.

 

3 The Biblioteca del Fondo: community spaces for the community

The design of the multifunctional building where the Biblioteca del Fondo is located is a large five-story structure in the center of the neighborhood and covered with a metal mesh that gives it a strong identity. Entering the Biblioteca del Fondo is an opening experience within a neighborhood of narrow streets and small homes. All the interior of the volume is "drilled" and the set of double heights produces the effect of a single large space, although the Library actually occupies three floors (Romero, Sabater, 2016). At the same time, the mesh covering the two upper floors allows sunlight to enter in winter and prevents it in the summer. Inside the set of lights creates a cozy atmosphere.

 

Figure 3. Central Staircase – access to floor 2 (2 September 2014). Photo: Òscar Ferrer

Figure 3. Central Staircase – access to floor 2 (2 September 2014). Photo: Òscar Ferrer

 

The Library was the last service of the building inaugurated, on September 11, 2014, to serve a population of more than 30,000 people from the municipality and the neighboring neighborhoods of Badalona. Since the inauguration, the staff, which is currently of six people with a dedication of 5.5 days, has never reached the minimum proposed. The expected operating expenditure is around € 500,000 per year. The use data was very positive the first year, with the constant increase in visits, loans and assistance to activities.2 During 2016, the trend has been to keep up with the figures achieved by the end of 2015, with a slight decrease due to the reduction of programming of cultural dynamism due to the lack of personnel discussed above.

 

Figure 4. Data-Functional Program of the library (Biblioteca del Fondo, 2006)

Figure 4. Data-Functional Program of the library (Biblioteca del Fondo, 2006)

 

The Library has several spaces that allow meeting, exchange, training and creation: they are Espai Creatiu (Creative Area for children), Computer training room, Support room, Auditorium Jaume P. Sayrach, the Entrance hall and the Espai Cuines del Món. All of them are communicated through the General Area, the Children Area, and the Magazine and Audiovisual Area, in the middle there is a large central and open staircase from which there is an almost complete panoramic view of the entire Library.

 

Figure 5. L'Espai Cuines del Món. At the back, the Press and reviews area can be seen. (2 September 2014). Photo: Òscar Ferrer

Figure 5. L'Espai Cuines del Món. At the back, the Press and reviews area can be seen. (2 September 2014). Photo: Òscar Ferrer

 

The existence of all these spaces fits into the IFLA concept of public library, which says that the first of the ten ways of making a public library work is to design libraries that include community and cultural spaces and that they are not limited to be physical deposits of knowledge (IFLA, 2009). All the spaces of the Biblioteca del Fondo want to respond to this need for places where you can debate and build, experiment and share, express and listen, observe and interpret... Thus, the Library can become a bundle and dynamism center which starts with the dialogue with the users and among them, without losing their foundational role, the one that promotes culture through the promotion of reading.

Culture, as defined by UNESCO (2001), is "the set of the distinctive spiritual and material, intellectual, and emotional features that characterize a society or a social group which includes, in addition to the arts, the modes of life, the ways of living together, the systems of values, traditions and beliefs", and gastronomy is one of its most central expressions. Therefore, the Espai Cuines del Món is central to the Library, both physically and conceptually.

Espai Cuines del Món is located in a hall on the first floor, in the very center of the Library. In order to carry out all the planned activity, there is a full kitchen installed and prepared to cook. It allows carrying out presentations for large audiences, up to forty people, as well as workshops for small groups of between fifteen and eighteen people. It is equipped with a vitroceramic plate, an electric oven, extractor hood, microwave, dishwasher, fridge, mixer and kitchen robot. It also has a large sink and a space for the manual cleaning of utensils and the preparation of some foods, and all the necessary kitchen utensils (pans, fryers, kitchen cutlery, pastries, oven plates, dishes, glasses, cups, table cutlery, trays and ceramic bowls of various sizes, a stock of recyclable fungible, etc.).

 

Figure 6. "Passa'm l'arròs". Morrocco (4 June 2015). Photo: Mariona Chavarria

Figure 6. "Passa'm l'arròs". Morrocco (4 June 2015). Photo: Mariona Chavarria

 

4 The Comissió Cuines del Món, defining the project

One month after the inauguration of the Library, the Cuines del Mundo Commission was convened from the Mayor's Office, and it meet twice to establish the main lines of the project. On the second meeting (November 2014), the various contributions received from the collaborating entities (FondoComerç, Lluerna restaurant, the Culture Service, the Consortium for Linguistic Normalization L'Heura, etc.) were reviewed and the objectives agreed.

 

Figure 7.

Figure 7.

 

These objectives are: to create a space for gastronomic divulgation that represents the diversity of the neighborhood of el Fondo; Become an exchange space where you can meet the different cultures, and do it through the kitchen; based on the fact that the Espai Cuines del Món is within a public library, it also seeks to help bring about diversity and facilitate trusted relationships while promoting reading habits and abilities, training and information, thus contributing to building social and cultural capital within the community, and helping to create a sense of community, belonging and collective identification.3

At the same time, the place and the project Cuines del Món are part of the municipal strategic project "Santa Coloma, Ciutat Universitària", which aims to publicize Santa Coloma de Gramenet as a strategic point in food and nourturing at a European level and to be a reference of gastronomic knowledge.

From here the following actions were planned:

  1. Organizing a calendar: think about some themes on food, meals, traditions, etc. On the one hand, they must have a popular side, which accommodates all social sectors and where simple activities are carried out; for example, somebody might be invited to cook and explain a dish of his/her culture. Activities that do not necessarily have an intellectual and social burden and are more entertaining and practical should be included, such as a workshop for singles, a menu of € 2, etc. On the other, actions with a more scientific and academic aspect should also be included, with the help of the Campus de l’Alimentació and the Centre de Normalització Lingüística-L'Heura to define culinary science.4

  2. Establish list of possible collaborators of the neighborhood (cultural, health, commercial associations and families), the University, etc.

  3. Give it all a standard visibility, while designing the documentation related to the project.

  4. Acquire the necessary material for children's activities in the Kitchen;

  5. Think of some mechanism for evaluating activities and the whole project;

  6. Increase the Documentary Collection, in contact with specialized libraries and in collaboration with the CRAI of the Campus de l’Alimentació de Torribera (University of Barcelona): filling the gaps, acquiring materials on the kitchens of those places in the world that are not yet part of the collection; and write the development policy of the collection.

Regarding the activities, it was predicted that they would be of three levels interrelated to each other (Biblioteca del Fondo, 2016a):

  1. The academic level, in relation to food, nutrition, science and cooking (with the presence of cooks and / or university professors), more directly linked to the Ciutat Universitària Program.5

 

Figure 8. "Santa Coloma, Ciutat Universitària". Presentation of the Spring Program (28 June 2015). Photo: Mariona Chavarria

Figure 8. "Santa Coloma, Ciutat Universitària". Presentation of the Spring Program (28 June 2015). Photo: Mariona Chavarria

 

  1. The informative / formative level, which brings together people from different origins to share a cooking session where similarities and differences are explained, for example in the area of rice (Biblioteca del Fondo, 2015). Other ideas that are pending in practice are: potato cooking, the use of spices or different types of oil, etc. At this level, with a more formative nature, there is the purpose of teaching the smallest cooking habits, or the promotion of the kitchen with products of proximity or season.

  2. The social level, with the transfer of space to neighborhood entities that use it within their support and promotion activities for people (collaborative work, trust, small culinary lessons, for example sessions to learn to cook nutritious dishes at low cost, but also activities such as reading club sessions, presentations of gastronomic publications, activities with social entities or neighborhood health, etc.).

 

Figure 9. Workshop – mental health center. Club Social Gramenet (29 April 2015). Photo: Mariona Chavarria

Figure 9. Workshop – mental health center. Club Social Gramenet (29 April 2015). Photo: Mariona Chavarria

 

With regard to the Documentary Collection on World Kitchen, a policy of development of its own collection will be drafted, and the number of documents (in Catalan, Spanish, English and French, mainly) will be increased on the kitchen from the cultural perspective around the world, identifying the gaps (Biblioteca del Fondo, 2016b).

 

5 Provision of the project

The Department of Culture, Social Movements, Citizen Entities, Historical Memory and LGTBI coordinates the Commission Cuines del Món. Library staff acts in the bibliographical and documentary support, as well as in the publicity of the activities, which must be held within the opening hours of the Library. Although in principle it was expected that the programming and coordination of activities proposed by third parties would be done from the Commission, the reality is that it has been assumed by the direction of the Library, who also takes charge of the special bibliographical archive.

The Library's budget for the activities is of two types. One part is included in the general budget allocation of the Library aimed at hiring workshops and reading promotion activities. Another part is covered with an estimated budget of € 30 per month to cover the expenses in ingredients for those activities carried out by neighbors and also to acquire the necessary consumables for the operation of the kitchen (soap, rubbish bags, kitchen paper, transparent film or foil, oil, salt, etc.). There is another part that is covered with free and voluntary collaboration by the chefs / chefs of the invited restaurants. Finally, the programming linked to the municipal strategic project "Santa Coloma, Ciutat Universitària" is directly covered by Alcaldia, who coordinates the whole program at the municipal level.

 

6 Interaction with the agents in the surrounding area

During the first years of operation of the Library, the relationships with the environment have been intense in the most diverse areas (promotion of reading with schools and Casals, practicum of high school students, volunteer reception of people with mental illnesses, loans to entities that cater to people with special needs, etc.). In the case of the Cuines del Món Project, it has collaborated with services that were not intended at first (the Primary Health Care Center or the Center for Mental Health, for example), but also with cultural associations tied to the various communities present in the neighborhood: the Chinese community, through the schools of Saturday (where Chinese children learn written Chinese and more about their culture); the Moroccan community, with ACSCIM.CAT; the Latin American community, with Llatins per Catalunya, and the Sikh community, through a group of families who came on Saturdays to teach Panjabi to their children. In addition, by taking part in the annual "Sabors del Món" gatherings, organized by FondoComerç,6 also contacted restaurateurs of different origins (Peru, Japan, Italy, Morocco, Turkey, Georgia, Mexico, etc.). On the other hand, as part of municipal projects such as the Intercultural Community Intervention Project of the Serra d'en Mena,7 contacts with the various cultural communities in its area of influence continue to be expanded, in order to disseminate the project and incorporate them into the next revision and programming meetings.

 

Figure 10. "Passa'm l'arròs". Nigeria (28 June 2015). Photo: Mariona Chavarria

Figure 10. "Passa'm l'arròs". Nigeria (28 June 2015). Photo: Mariona Chavarria

 

7 Activities hold between 2014-2016

The Library programs an activity for the general public and a monthly workshop every two months.8 In addition, it uses the Kitchen within its usual activities: storytelling; literary gathering; snacks or tastings aimed at the audience attending one of the general activities hold at the library; or events in which it participates and take place in the neighbourhood, such as the celebration of the Chinese New Year, the above mention "Sabors del Món", etc. There are also other activities carried out by the various entities, services, public or private institutions, or the City Council that take part in the Commission Cuines del Món, with which a collaboration has been established, and also the "Santa Coloma-Ciutat Universitària" program. Finally, there are other entities or services that request the cession of the space for their own activities (public or private) (Biblioteca del Fondo, 2016a).

The activities programmed from the Library aimed at the general public have been: cooking workshops in collaboration with restaurants (Chinese, Peruvian, Japanese, Catalan, etc.) or women (exceptionally men) attending the Library or members of entities (from Nigeria, Morocco, India, Mexico, Italy, etc.) and destined for small groups of between twelve to fifteen people. Also presentations of cookbooks have been made. Activities for children are divided into two different age groups: from 6 to 8 years old and from 9 to 14. Workshops are taken to transmit culinary habits, hygiene and knowledge of the virtues of a good and healthy meal. Some are encouraged by staff in the children's area and other by volunteer or contracted people.

 

Figure 11. "Passa'm l'arròs". Morrocco (4 June 2015). Photo: Mariona Chavarria

Figure 11. "Passa'm l'arròs". Morrocco (4 June 2015). Photo: Mariona Chavarria

 

8 Evaluation

During these first years of operation, no indicators have been established for the evaluation of the project.

 

Figure 12. Family cooking workshop "Casal dels Infants". Prepararing dishes for the gastronomic gathering "Sabors del Món" (3 June 2016). Photo: Casal dels Infants de Santa Coloma

Figure 12. Family cooking workshop "Casal dels Infants". Prepararing dishes for the gastronomic gathering "Sabors del Món" (3 June 2016). Photo: Casal dels Infants de Santa Coloma

 

Based on the objectives set by the Commission (see above), which proposed a monthly activity and that these activities had three aspects (academic, educational / informative and social), and crossing them with the activities9 that have been carried out, the following table of results can be presented:

Objective What has been accomplished Evaluation
Establish a calendar Activities related to the municipal calendar (Setmana de la Ciència (Science Week), Santa Coloma Degusta) and calendars of different cultures have been maintained (Christmas, Ramadan, Chinese New Year, Easter).
Eleven children activities have been hold every two months, for twenty months.
This goal has been partially achieved.
Programming in the medium term has been limited by the shortage of staff throughout the library service since the opening of the Library.
Think about some sets of activities on food, meals, traditions, etc. During the spring of 2015 a set of activities around the rice was organized (Passa’m l’arròs): it included 3 activities for adults and a workshop for children. This goal has not been fulfilled. No cycle could be organized in 2016.
Organize activities that have a popular aspect, which accommodate all social sectors and where simple activities are carried out (people invited to cook and explain a dish of their culture). Twelve workshops have been held, with people from the neighborhood invited; Cooks from different cultural origins have been invited from five restaurants of the municipality. This goal has been fulfilled.
Schedule activities that have a more social side, in collaboration with neighborhood entities. Activities have been organized in collaboration with entities and health services, especially mental health, and "Centres Oberts" and "Casals". Five different entities have made about twenty workshops in the kitchen. This goal has been fulfilled, and It continues to expand.
Include activities that do not necessarily have an intellectual and social burden and are more entertaining and practical (workshop for singles, a menu of € 2, etc.). There has been no specific activity of this type, although the activities of the mentioned social aspect start from nutritious and economic cooking. The goal has been accomplished in part.
Include actions with a more scientific and academic aspect, with the help of the Campus de l’Alimentació and the CNL-L'Heura to define culinary science. Within the Programa Municipal Ciutat Universitària, or with other proposals received, thirteen activities have been organized. This goal has been fulfilled.
Establish a list of possible collaborators from the neighborhood (cultural or professional associations and families), from the University, etc. The list of collaborators has been established and continues to grow, especially in the number of cultural entities present in the neighborhood and diverse resources and services. This goal has been fulfilled, and It continues to expand.
Give a standard visibility to the project, while designing the documentation. A specific logo has been designed; posters have a standard visibility. The goal has been partially accomplished. Pending to agree on the image of some documentation.
Acquire the necessary material for children's activities in the kitchen. Suitable kitchen tables and kitchen utensils have been purchased.
A special budget is available for the basic fungibles of the kitchen.
This goal has been fulfilled.
Make some evaluation mechanism of the activities. After two years of operation it is necessary to establish a mechanism that allows a more qualitative than quantitative evaluation. This goal has not been fulfilled
Increase the Special Fund, in contact with specialized libraries and in collaboration with the CRAI of the Campus of the Feeding (fill the gaps, acquire materials on the kitchens of those places of the world that still do not comprise of the collection and write the Collection development policy). The collection of the Fons Especial Cuines del Món has doubled, and now exceeds five hundred documents; In 2016, an average of forty-five documents / month (1,5 doc./dia - of an average total of 110 loans / day) has been borrowed by users from around the province.
Collection Development policy has not yet been written.
The goal has been accomplished in part.

The project has made possible:

  • that the space Cuines del Món has been used for about sixty activities in twenty working months (excluding January and from July to September), with an average of twenty people per workshop;

  • to collaborate with some twenty entities and thirty people from different origins (Biblioteca del Fondo, 2016a), which has facilitated the approach to other neighborhood cultural communities.

From the direction of the Library and the coordination of the activities and projects that are carried out in the Espai Cuines del Món, the use of space by social entities of the neighbourhood is valued, since it gives meaning to the project, attracting people who, for a variety of reasons, do not frequent public spaces, such as people with mental illnesses or newly arrived migrants. Some (re) learn to use the kitchen, and the others gather people from one or several cultural backgrounds in this public and shared space with the rest of the citizens. This is an objective of the public library service in general within its social function, and also of the Espai Cuines del Món. The value of these activities is based on the fact that people leave their common environments (in spaces of reception or hospital environment) to occupy an open and shared public space.

Likewise, but in a different way, with regard to the activities organized within the Programa Ciutat Universitària, it is perceived by the Library coordinators that it attracts a public from outside the neighbourhood of an academic or intellectual interest that differs from the local profiles. This helps to incorporate a neighbourhood traditionally segregated from the town center as a more standardized neighbourhood, and also causes the encounter of audiences of different origins (people belonging to the neighbourhood since long and people from outside attracted by the activity). In short, it can open avenues to increase the social capital of neighbours in the neighbourhood that show interest and curiosity.

Although one of the objectives is to foster intercultural awareness and interrelation, we observe a fact that questions this: the small, and in some cases void, public assistance from other cultures. Although working increasingly with the cultural and social entities of the environment, offering space or inviting them to propose activities, the relationship ends up being established at the level of those responsible of the cultural associations contacted; they are the ones personally involved, but not the entity they represent. In short, what happens in most cases is that the cook of foreign origin is at the center of the attention of the public, mainly of Catalan origin, who comes to observe and taste an "exotic" cuisine in the special setting of the neighbourhood library.

If one looks at what happens in other activities that are offered in the Library, or with direct observation of the children's area, where almost no parents are seen, despite being full of children, one can think of an explanation based on the context of the neighbourhood.

From the Library it is believed that the fact of the low participation of foreigners may have more to do with the situation that these people live: some of them are illiterate, and most of them with serious problems of understanding Catalan or Spanish; many are at a stage of arrival and with adaptation stress to cover the basic needs (school, health, work, language), which largely leaves quite back in their priorities the participation in "playful" and / or cultural activities of the Library or the will to relate to people from other origins.

With all this in mind, the aspects to improve are: the operation of the Commission Cuines del Món which is still pending of a new meeting; the non-incorporation of new collectives and cultural entities of diverse origins; the lack of regularity in the programming; the lack of punctual activities with well-known Chefs or other professionals; the shortage of personnel dedicated to the project, and the lack of personnel throughout the library service, which does not allow the project to be promoted with guarantees and balance. And, as already mentioned, the lack of diversity of those attending the activities aimed at the adult public. As for the space, although it is positive that it is in the middle of the Library, it is necessary to improve the sound insulation, as well as the smoke and odor extractor system. Likewise, the fact that the space can not be used outside the opening hours of the Library is a limitation that should be eliminated.

 

9 Conclusion

After two years of operation, the decision to put a kitchen in the center of the Library has been seen as a good one. In the academic and social fields, Espai Cuines del Món is well-founded. Both levels are carried out thanks to the work in collaboration with social, cultural, commercial, educational, health, etc. entities of the neighborhood, and with the different university poles in town.

Regarding the level of training / information, at the moment it is difficult to attract as assistants to the workshops people of non-Catalan origin and who have been relatively short time in town. Could the public diversify? Could it attract foreign-born audiences to a Catalan and Spanish cuisine workshop? When it is done, for example, a Nigerian kitchen workshop, could we attract Asian, African, Maghreb or Latin American audiences? Could a true dialogue be made between all, regardless of their origins or administrative situation in the country? If it were achieved, the relationships would eventually become horizontal and, therefore, more supportive and confident, which is not currently given.

Although the implementation of the project at this level is slow, the truth is that it is moving forward. Could the better functioning of the Commission, promoting programming with some kind of participatory process with the environment, help to correct this?

 

Figure 13. Children Workshop "We prepare Ramadan" (17 June 2016). Photo: Dolors Molina

Figure 13. Children Workshop "We prepare Ramadan" (17 June 2016). Photo: Dolors Molina

 

A hopeful exception are the children's workshops due to their natural interaction and spontaneity. They are frequented workshops for children from families of different origins. They share the traditions that live at home throughout the year around the kitchen. They are the future generations of our society and, also, in the present, since they are, in some way, attracting their parents, even if they are shyly still, in this community home that It is the kitchen, this space where everyone gives and receives and that it is relaxed and inviting.

The interest of everyone involved and their participation in wider projects at the municipal level give the project solidity, which, with a better allocation and a better functioning of the Commission, would increase its presence and visibility, and would further promote the neighbourhood and the cultural communities that live together in the territory and beyond.

 

Bibliography

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Cuines del Món on the social networks

Facebook: <https://www.facebook.com/CuinesdelMonBibFondo/>.

Twitter: Cuines del Món – SCG: <https://twitter.com/BibFondo>.

Issuu-Stack: <https://issuu.com/bibstacoloma/stacks/afeab68b31fe4111ab784c505ccefee5>.

 

Notes

1 See, amog others: Carles Cols. "Hay noticias de Gorg". El Periódico-Barcelona (27/04/2016). <http://www.elperiodico.com/es/noticias/barcelona/badalona-sur-emerge-como-chinatown-comercial-badalona5087745>. [Consulted: 01/02/2017], and Luis Benvenuty. "Santa Coloma turística". La Vanguardia-Vivir, (09/03/2011), p. 6. <http://hemeroteca.lavanguardia.com/preview/2011/03/09/pagina-6/86108114/pdf.html>. [Consulted: 01/02/2017].

2 Diputació de Barcelona. Unitat d'Estadístiques i Qualitat. Gerència de Serveis de Biblioteques (2016). Dades estadístiques. Dades de la Biblioteca. Santa Coloma de Gramenet. Biblioteca del Fondo. Barcelona: Diputació de Barcelona. <http://media.diba.cat/bibliodocs/FPT_BIB_Santa_Coloma_Gramenet_Biblioteca_Fondo.pdf>. [Consulted: 01/02/2017].

3 From the Acta de la reunió del 28/11/2014.

4 From the Acta de la reunió del 28/11/2014.

5 Santa Coloma, Ciutat Universitària: <http://www.gramenet.cat/la-ciutat/ciutat-universitaria/>. [Consulted: 01/02/2017].

6 FondoComerç,Associació de Comerciants del Fondo, recently dissolved. <https://www.facebook.com/fondocomerc/>. [Consulted: 01/02/2017].

7 Programació Comunitària de la Serra d'en Mena. <http://serramena.com/>. [Consulted: 01/02/2017].

8 Activitats Cuines del Món – Biblioteca del Fondo – Set 2014 a feb 2017. <https://issuu.com/bibstacoloma/docs/activitats.docx>. [Consulted: 01/02/2017].

9 Activitats Cuines del Món – Biblioteca del Fondo – Set 2014 a feb 2017. <https://issuu.com/bibstacoloma/docs/activitats.docx>. [Consulted: 01/02/2017].

 

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