Organized as part of the Library Development Program, the 12th Public Library Convention was held online at Commune Public Library in Grodzisk Mazowiecki on November 24. This year its slogan was “For your wellbeing” and it was attended by 1,200 people – librarians, as well as representatives of organizations and institutions from all over Poland that cooperate with them.
The participants were welcomed by the PAFF President and CEO Jerzy Koźmiński, who presented the history and results of the Library Development Program. He emphasized that the program has had a significant impact on the activity and perception of public libraries in villages and small towns. They have become the places offering access to information, culture, education, stimulating civil activity and integrating local communities. Referring to the leading theme of the convention – ‘For your Wellbeing’ President Koźmiński mentioned the Green Leader pilot program launched by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation which is aimed at supporting local leaders carrying out activities that counteract local natural environment degradation, including climate change. ‘Today it is important to care for our physical, psychical and social wellbeing but also for our neighborhood (…), finding valuable space that offers us sense of security but also stimulates, develops and allows us to build relationships. Over the last decade libraries undoubtedly started to act in that role,’ he said.
The Library Convention first of all means inspiring meetings and conversations with interesting guests, authors of publications, and social leaders. It is the space for sharing knowledge and experience, combining resources, and inventing ideas of library new activities.
The host of the event was Agnieszka Kozak, a TVN journalist who conducted a debate on how to keep balance in life, relations and the world with Julia Wizowska, an author of nanowosmieci.pl blog and Małgorzata Borowska of the House of Skills.
Next the first bloc of simultaneous seminars took place.
- Tomasz Rożek, a researcher and the author of naukatolubie.pl educational project spoke about the way our individual decisions translate into changes on our planet – what in fact means to save water, or use energy, whether the amount of raw materials is really definite, and should we buy vegetables from the market or rather grow them in our gardens.
- Marzenna Wojnar of Commune Public Library at Lubicz spoke about a very important phenomenon of librarians’ job burnout– its first symptoms, overcoming the effect and what we should do to prevent it.
- Diana Chmiel who created ‘I prefer books’ website showed the seminar participants how to run such a profile using it as a tool allowing to get access to new readers, increase the users’ involvement and promote libraries and literature.
In the virtual meeting zone there were meetings with the authors – for comics and Kajko and Kokosz series’ fans with Paulina Christa and Tomasz Kołodziejczak, conducted by Filip Jędruch of the “Sector 3.0”; and with Jarosław Kret, a journalist and the author of travel books, conducted by Marta Kostecka of the LABiB Association.
In virtual stands the participants could share their experiences on various topics, such as:
- ‘Dexterous navigation in digital world’ – the librarians spoke about supporting their community at the time of pandemic. That conversation was an invitation to the Digital Travelers in Europe who make library to become a place where you can learn to navigate in the world of digital services.
- ‘Dive into the space of sound’ – how to make on your own a background for work or studying using the sounds of nature.
- ‘Take care of your health and peace’ – how to create a comfortable, green work post; how to take care of your neck and shoulders when you work a lot with computer.
The second seminar was on the following topics:
- ‘Between the bookshelves: can library be zero waste? Can the spirit of UN sustainable development goals penetrate into a library to support wellbeing and ecology?’ – these were the questions which Agata Szczotka-Sarna, an eco-educator, and other participants were trying to answer.
- Aleksandra Więcka, the author of ‘Jak mówić o sobie dobrze?’ (How to speak nicely of each other?) book, told the participants how they can discover their personal history, share successes and what mistakes they should avoid when speaking about themselves.
- Wioletta Matusiak of Wikimedia Polska was sharing her expertise with regard to creating friendly educational zone in a library, transfer knowledge efficiently and meet real needs of class participants, as well as best use the potential of library to enhance the users’ potential and enrich classes with technical novelties.
The Convention was also an opportunity to honor the winners of the Olga Rok Competition. The Polish-American Freedom Foundation, the Information Society Development Foundation and the Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland are its partners. The competition supports personal development of female librarians who know how to mobilize themselves and others to look for new solutions and who bravely change their communities.
In the interview with Agnieszka Kozak this-year’s winners told about their work at libraries: Alena Janukowycz of Broadway Branch of Józef Wybicki Municipal Public Library in Sopot (awarded in smaller institution category), who in cooperation with Sopot Integration and Foreigner Support Center runs ‘We speak Polish!’ classes for foreigners whose native language is Russian, and Monika Bonder of Wola District of Warsaw Public Library, Branch of the No 25 Library for Children and Young People, awarded in larger library category for a series of pro-ecological activities, in particular the Green Project implemented jointly with the disabled and socially excluded, which gave those people a sense of agency. The winners got scholarships of PLN 5,000 to be used for their personal development.
Other winners in the competition are:
- Ilona Kowalska of Dr. Władysław Biegański Public Library in Częstochowa, Branch No. 9,
- Marta Horabik-Piasecka of Hieronim Łopaciński Municipal Public Library in Lublin,
- Barbara Markowska of Municipal Public Library in Szczecin, Branch No.5,
- and Angela Kapustka of Juliusz Słowacki Municipal Public Library in Tarnów, Branch No.1.
At the end of the ceremony the participants listened to two motivational speeches. The first of them – “With courage into the unknown” – was on overcoming the barriers which separate us from our own resources and our abilities to build relationships or develop internal courage, empathy and sympathy for ourselves. The speech was given by psychologist Joanna Chmura.
The second speech was on personal story of Anna Malinowska of Ringier Axel Springer Polska, a special guest of the Convention. She told about the strength of self-compassion and courage.
In the summing up of the 12th Library Convention, President of the Information Society Development Foundation Jacek Królikowski thanked the lecturers and all people involved in preparing the event. He emphasized the importance of caring for our wellbeing nowadays and expressed his belief that considering the topics, that was the most feminine Convention in the whole history of the Library Development Program.
The Library Convention is a cyclical event organized by the Information Society Development Foundation as part of the Library Development Program of the Polish-American Freedom Foundation. Over the years 2009-2015 the Library Development Program was implemented by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. A total of 3,808 libraries in more than 1,250 communes and municipalities – that is almost 60% of libraries in rural areas and small towns in Poland – participated in the Program. Since 2016 support for libraries is continued under the strategy of enhancing the core stage of the Library Development Program. Almost 250 libraries and their branches in 79 communes and municipalities, and about 300 librarians representing them have joined the Library Development Program under its 4th round implemented over the years 2021-2022.