486 public libraries from rural and rural-municipal communes as well as small towns of up to 20,000 inhabitants have qualified to the 3rd round of the Library Development Program and will join the group of 3,327 institutions that have already been participating in it. The Program is a joint undertaking of the PAFF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and its goal is to facilitate public libraries' access to computers, the Internet and training.
“I am convinced that those units that have joined the network of libraries participating in the Program have huge potential, the use of which will launch and reinforce important changes in subsequent places on the map of Poland. Due to participation in this undertaking, the libraries will better meet the residents’ needs, more frequently use new information technologies and at the same time play a significant role in local communities development,” says Jerzy Koźmiński, President & CEO of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation.
The libraries will receive equipment (computers, printers, multi-functional devices, projectors) and their staff will participate in five-day computer training courses held in their provinces and in library development planning workshops, during which they will learn how to work using the project method with participation of various commune institutions, how to promote their services in a modern way and how to work in a group. Having completed the workshop on library development planning and prepared their development plan, the libraries will have a chance to take part in the ‘Active Library’ competition and obtain a grant for the implementation of selected activities. The librarians will also have an opportunity to benefit from study visits and expert support as well as participate in the annual public libraries convention.
“The Competition Commission did a great job; over 570 libraries from 195 communes have submitted their application. Among other things, the points were awarded for the libraries’ activities carried out to date. The special consideration was given to those libraries, which described examples of cooperation with local institutions and organizations acting as their partners, as well as activities in which local residents had been involved,” says Rafał Kramza, President of the Information Society Development Foundation, Director of the Library Development Program.
The goal of the Library Development Program is to assist public libraries in transforming themselves into modern, multi-function information, cultural and education centers stimulating civic involvement. The Manager of the Program in Poland is the Information Society Development Foundation, established in 2008 by the PAFF. Thanks to the Agreement concluded by the Information Society Development Foundation, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Ministry of Administration and Digitalization and the Orange company, the libraries participating in the Library Development Program have been provided with free access to the Internet by 2015. The Program is supported by the National Partnership for Library Development consisting of more than a hundred representatives of science, art, economy, media, politics and NGO sectors. Additionally, the Information Society Development Foundation has concluded 16 regional agreements with provincial authorities from all over Poland. The aim of these agreements is promoting the idea of modernization of public libraries in rural areas and small towns.
Organization of the 3rd round of the Library Development Program has been possible thanks to the decision to prolong the Library Development Program by the end of March 2015 taken by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation due to effective management of funds granted by the Gates Foundation and financial contribution made by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation. Under the continued Program, support will be offered both to the new participants and to those who have already been participating in the Program. The remaining libraries will be offered additional training and an opportunity to participate in e-learning courses. The LABIB initiative encompassing a network of more than one hundred librarian-innovators, who create and popularize good library practices via civic portals, will be further developed.
The Program will cover a total of 3,813 libraries in more than 1,250 communes, which makes almost 60% of all libraries in villages and small towns.
The Library Development Program in Poland is supported within the Global Libraries – an undertaking carried out within the framework of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation World Development Program. In Poland its partner and grantee is the Polish-American Freedom Foundation. The Program is managed by the Information Society Development Foundation which received a grant for that purpose from the Polish-American Freedom Foundation.