Teaching basic tech skills by digitizing the local history of rural communities in Colombia

“This project is crucial to understand the diversity of this country, its multiple cultures who have contributed to what we currently are so that we understand why we have been as we were, why we continue to be so, and what we want to be.”

Consuelo Gaitán, Director of the National Library of Colombia

The Challenge

The Ministry of Culture of Colombia sought to increase use of information technology through public libraries. The Shift team set out to design a project that could increase technology adoption through public libraries, strengthen social capital through shared local history, and engage the whole country in storytelling to advance the peace process. This became an opportunity to leveraged Colombia’s public library system to recover the photographic memory of the country.

Our Solution

Decentralized collection of Colombia’s national history through community-based history digitizing events

Stats and Facts

  • 900+ libraries participated
  • 110,000k+ people participating in photo and memory sharing events, learning new tech skills
  • 10k+ pictures in collection
  • Community-driven archive lead to unfiltered narratives of Colombian life
  • Created positive community engagement
  • Fostered intergenerational dialogue
  • Created moments of truth and reconciliation
  • Digital sharing allowed the archive to display history without taking the materials from the community



Massive Digital Community Archives in Colombia: An International Partnership Towards Peace

November 18, 2019

This chapter in The Routledge International Handbook of New Digital Practices in Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums and Heritage Sites explores a partnership between the National Library of Colombia, with its national network of public libraries, and Historypin.org, a global non-profit that seeks to strengthen communities through local history and story-sharing. This project highlights: the potential role of cultural heritage organisations to make lasting social impact through civic engagement, methods for designing digital content creation and community engagement along with technical infrastructure, the democratising potential of placing the power of cultural narrative in the hands of many, and how a digital cultural project allowed us to reach an entire nation during an essential time of peace-building.

See other chapters in this book here.

Diego Merizalde and Jon Voss




Do you want to get involved? We'd love to hear from you
Email me - jon.voss@shiftdesign.org