Contents Executive Summary...........................................................................................................................................................2
Day 1: Building a dialogue with Europe...............................................................................................................2 Day 2: Transforming Access to Digital Europe .................................................................................................3 Key Calls for Action ......................................................................................................................................................3
Day 1: Building a dialogue with Europe ...................................................................................................................4
Session 1 Libraries and Digital Europe, an overview of the openings and opportunities within the EU .................................................................................................................................................................................4 Session 2 Lessons for good advocacy ...................................................................................................................6 Session 3 Question time: a policy panel discussion ........................................................................................8
Day 2: Transforming Access to Digital Europe ......................................................................................................9
Session 1 Repositioning libraries in a new digital landscape .....................................................................9 Session 2 Celebrating best practice: the transformative impact of public libraries....................... 12 Session 3 Breakout workshops ............................................................................................................................ 15 Workshop 1 | Building a Dialogue with Europe ....................................................................................... 15 Workshop 2 | Key Tools of Transition for Digital Age ........................................................................... 15 Workshop 3 | Sustainable Partnerships ...................................................................................................... 16 Closing Keynote â€“ Revolution without Book Burning ..................................................................................... 18
Executive Summary The third European Congress on E-inclusion (ECEI11) took place on 6th and 7th September 2011 at the European Parliament and the Committee of the Regions respectively, bringing together over 100 representatives from across Europe’s e-inclusion and library sectors as well as leading MEPs and European policymakers. The conference was hosted by Civic Agenda, together with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bibnet, the Committee of the Regions, EBLIDA, the European Parliament, NAPLE, JISC TechDis and RegenerateIT. This year’s agenda built on ECEI10 - “Delivering a Digital Europe in Public Libraries” - which was an official EU Belgian Presidency conference on 20th and 21th September in the Flemish Parliament in Brussels. Drawing on last year’s conclusions, ECEI11 aimed to go one step further on the journey to foster a greater awareness and engagement from key European, national and local stakeholders of the transformative impact of public libraries as a development tool that provides access to information and knowledge. The topic of ECEI11 – ‘Transforming Access to Digital Europe through Public Libraries’ – aimed to shine a spotlight on the opportunity Europe has to exploit the potential of its public libraries as sustainable, accessible agencies for all to gain access to ICT and knowledge. The conference programme focused on how libraries must position themselves for the digital age, and sought to demonstrate the vital role of public libraries in EU policy, looking ahead at the EU agenda Europe 2020. This year’s program was divided in two days and two distinctive parts.
Day 1: Building a dialogue with Europe The aim of the first day was to highlight the links between EU policies on e-inclusion and public libraries highlighting where and how libraries can contribute to wider EU policy, strategy and outcomes as well as being linked to investment. Key objectives for delegates participating at the first day of the European Congress on Einclusion 2011 were: • • •
To better understand where areas of library best practice can be ‘uploaded’ at an EU policy level and gain an understanding of how key European decision-making processes operate. To be equipped to begin a dialogue with the EU around the transformative impact of public libraries into European digital government and e-inclusion strategies. To debate and examine the unique value of libraries, looking at how their offer can be clearly defined and articulated at an EU level, to feed into best practice findings at a national level to the Gdansk EU Presidency Conference in October 2011.
At the end of the afternoon there was a VIP European Reception hosted by Linda McAvan, MEP for Yorkshire and Humberside which set in motion a dialogue with EU policymakers. 2
Day 2: Transforming Access to Digital Europe Day 2 considered the transformative roles of Europe’s public libraries, by examining the wider impact that they can have to empower the Digital Citizen and include those with barriers to access whether economic, skills or accessibility based. The presentations and workshops looking at the following core topics: • • •
Repositioning the role of libraries within the digital landscape Sustainable partnerships for the future Libraries as a key tool of transition
Key Calls for Action The wealth and breadth of contributions during the conference set in motion fresh dialogue on the opportunity that public libraries offer Europe as a solution for delivering E-Inclusion goals. Contributors from public libraries and associations around Europe detailed the impact of investment in public libraries around Europe and, in return, to gain advice and support from EC policymakers and advocacy experts on what public libraries can be doing to promote best practice at an EU level. A number of key challenges and opportunities for public libraries were identified during the conference as key calls for action: •
For public libraries to be considered as eligible actors in EU policy and funding programmes, they need to provide compelling evidence to demonstrate that they have the capacity to deliver key solutions at an EU level. The functions and services provided by public libraries need to demonstrate a synergy with Europe 2020 flagship policies such as ‘Digital Society’, and show where key goals can be delivered by library functions. There is an opportunity for public libraries to consider new models and reposition services in the fields of inclusive e-government, lifelong learning and health information. Public libraries need to focus on consumers’ needs and respond to the pressures of the labour market (for example, by 2015, 90% of jobs will require ICT skills in some form).
The European Commission has, since the conference, reiterated that public libraries who are providing innovative access to digital services and knowledge are very important eInclusion players. Moving forwards, they have highlighted the importance of public libraries actively take part in consultation for EU eInclusion policy.
Day 1: Building a dialogue with Europe The sessions of the first conference day focused specifically on how the library sector can interact and begin a dialogue with policymakers in the EU advocating the unique benefits of libraries at the highest level. It was both a practical and informative afternoon about the opportunities for dialogue as well as providing an opportunity for the library sector to begin a dialogue with key decision makers as part of a private audience of EU politicians.
Session 1 Libraries and Digital Europe, an overview of the openings and opportunities within the EU The presentations of the first session were aimed to give the public a briefing of the opportunities libraries have to engage with the EU policy landscape, looking both at connecting with opportunities that fall within the e-inclusion policy agendas as well as wider policy remits. Chris Batt OBE, Conference Chair, opened the first day with the statement that: “Libraries had to stop behaving like victims shouting for help, and should instead start to take action” He explained that from his perspective, the way public libraries will be seen in the future will depend on how professional librarians behave moving forwards. Mr Batt stressed that the conference not only wants to help participants gain new knowledge and insights, but also to be a platform for reflection on how we could all behave differently in the future. Next to being advocates, Chris Batt repeatedly stressed the importance of public libraries and librarians needing to become ‘players’ in the policy game: Gaining a better understanding of what the policy makers are aiming at, and embedding public libraries into these agendas. ICT for inclusion – towards a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy Ilias Iakovidis, Acting head of the ICT for Inclusion Unit, DG Information Society and Media, European Commission. Ilias Iakovidis stressed the importance of eInclusion topics throughout the EU policy agendas. He picked up on the chair’s opening remarks by stressing the importance of rethinking the role of public libraries in this digital age as a place for information, education and social hubs. This holistic function of public libraries calls for a redesign of the librarian itself: as such, new skills, competences and responsibilities are needed. Training therefore needs to target end users, intermediaries, and librarians alike. Mr. Iakovidis pointed to the labour market to stress the importance of this shift in the library’s focus. According to European companies, 90% of jobs in 2015 will require some sort of ICT skills. Access to ICT and advanced digital competences will be crucial for current and future employability, self-development and social inclusion. While for many digital competences are evolving, so is the digital divide. 4
All over the world libraries are being used as Internet hubs. Based on evidence regarding the activities of online people across all ages, Mr. Iakovidis identified a number of new business models and services for public libraries in the field of inclusive e-government, life long learning and health information. These potential future roles of libraries would be in line with several of the Europe 2020 flagships, f.e. ‘Digital society’, which formulates a digital agenda for Europe. In closing, Mr. Iakovidis stated that concerning the USP of public libraries and their unique added value for EU policy, public libraries have the benefit of being close to the people, during all the stages of their lives. He highlighted that in order to get every European digitally competent and to combat social and digital exclusion, public libraries can play a role to reach out to those who are the most vulnerable. Influencing Policy at the EU Level Nathan Ducastel, Consultant, HEC Europa unit Nathan Ducastel shared his experiences as an adviser to the Dutch policy agencies in order to get to grips with what is happening in Europe and how the library sector can position itself in EU discussions. He advised the audience to look at the EU policies, like the e2020, as the ‘bible’ and most importantly to look for a ‘win-win’ situation within the policies. Mr. Ducastel stated that although an initial motive for reaching out to Europe often involves the need for extra funds, getting involved in European projects gives one the opportunity to influence EU legislation and to realize one’s own goals through Europe while at the same time building up a network of partners. Regarding the legal status of EU policies, Mr. Ducastel introduced the difference between hard and soft laws but also stressed the importance of a third option, namely research projects. Since research takes up the third largest budget item in the EU it is an important factor in agenda setting and certainly also policy oriented. After having given some insight in different influencing models Nathan Ducastel stressed that libraries and library organizations should form a coalition and reach out to the European platform with a common network and common objectives. Mr. Ducastel concluded that libraries certainly have a big role to play bridging the digital divide but that they have to work together to prove to Europe that they have the capacity to realize all the work. Mr. Ducastel offered some definitive guidelines for influencing policy: • • • • • •
Have something to offer, create content and be willing to share it In a EU context, be aware that everybody is talking to everybody all the time Make alliances, even if they are temporary or only focus on single issues Use your politicians, both on a EU, national and local level. EU priorities are shared with all other policy levels Gather evidence, figures and facts Focus on the impact libraries can have on the behaviour of people, in line with the agendas of the EU 5
Session 2 Lessons for good advocacy The presentations in the second session provided a more detailed look at some of the lessons and opportunities for effective engagement at an EU level, building on the big picture messages in the opening session. Building Networks of Influence: Perspectives of a Welshman Nick Batey, Welsh Assembly Government Drawing on his experiences on a regional level in the UK in Wales, Nick Batey sought to offer the audience an introduction to building networks to influence the EU level. In 2010, the Digital Wales plan was drawn up to tackle the problem of digital exclusion in the very mixed rural and urban region of Wales. Digital Wales formed a regional agenda that brought together all digital aspects thus breaking the boundaries between the cabinets and bringing all funds, initiatives and people together. Mr. Batey built upon one of the key notions that was introduced in the first sessions of the conference: the need to work together, to identify the key players, to engage with existing networks and to bring an intellectual mass of different organizations together in order to built a multi-stakeholder partnership. Next to the need for a win-win situation, which was already introduced by Mr. Ducastel, Mr. Batey stressed the need to be clear, competent and last but not least persistent when engaging with the European commission. Nick Batey identified public libraries as powerful wheels of change in this digital world. Thanks to their rich content and resources, their accessibility and natural tendency to collaboration public libraries he stated are perfectly placed to make a difference in people’s lives and to function as key advocates for change. However - as Ilias Iakovidis mentioned earlier - Mr. Batey stressed the importance of developing the digital skills of library staff in order to convert them into advocates of ICT. Mr Batey provided some advice from his experience working as an EU advisor on effective engagement with European Commission: • • • • • • • •
Have something to say - One strong voice, not many; Exemplars Be persistent - Invest time and effort Be competent -Know what you are talking about Use contacts -SNEs, Regional Offices, Networks, Perm Reps; Politicians Have realistic expectations Look for win–win Attend the EC events Plug into EC Projects
Lessons for the Library Sector Stuart Hamilton, IFLA Senior Policy Advisor Based upon his experiences within IFLA and the role IFLA plays worldwide regarding the human rights aspects of access to information, Stuart Hamilton strongly believed that libraries form key intermediaries in order to help those who cannot access the information they need. Like the previous speakers he stressed the importance of focusing on the end users themselves and increasing the quality of services that libraries provide. Since public libraries have a strong customer base and are sustainable institutions, they are interesting partners for other organizations. Mr. Hamilton used the different actions IFLA has taken regarding the advocacy for copyright frameworks that promote, instead of restrict, access to information as a reference point to demonstrate some key aspects of constructing a compelling message. Once again he stressed the importance of alliances between library organizations and other stakeholders together with a thorough knowledge of the specificities of the different European channels. Equally important is the collection of evidence to construct a really compelling message. To be convincing when advocating for libraries it is important to have the facts at hands. Although the gathering of good evidence materials is time-consuming and costly, it is paramount to building a strong case. Mr. Hamilton also pointed out that next to hard facts and figures, stories that feature real people and situations can help getting the message across. Mr. Hamilton concluded that library and information professionals need to consider advocacy and reaching out to policymakers as an essential part of their job. In order to support them with this IFLA created the â€œBuilding Strong Library Associationsâ€? to build capacity at national associations so that they become stronger and more effective when working on behalf of their users.
Session 3 Question time: a policy panel discussion Session 3 created an opportunity for a dialogue with some European policymakers, politicians and sector commentators to vocalize some of the opportunities and challenges for public libraries wishing to engage with the European Union policy landscape. The format of the session was a panel including Linda McAvan MEP; Jakob Heide Petersen, Head of the Library Division in the Agency for Libraries and Media, Denmark; Gabriel Rissola, Scientific Officer, IPTS, European Commission; and Wouter Schallier, Executive Director, LlBER. The chairman Chris Batt opened the discussion by asking the panel to talk about the unique selling point of libraries. Should they focus on e-inclusion or rather on a broader framework like life long learning? The panel and audience did agree on the important role libraries can and should play in the field of e-inclusion. Linda McAvan provided insights from her own experience and stated that all our lives are touched by the digital world. She explained that 15 years ago, libraries were seen as hubs of access into the digital world. However in current times access to digital information should be supplemented with training people to make use of these media to improve their lives and help combat the economic crisis. Jakob Heide Petersen stressed the fact that in order to fulfill such a role libraries should rethink themselves. The key point is not how big the collection is or how many loans there are annually, itâ€™s about making an impact on our communities. To make that shift Gabriel Rissola explained the need to refer the library sector to the EU Digital Agenda, which contains many keywords that can orientate future initiatives. Based on the wide variety of answers coming from the audience, it soon became clear that the library sector does not have a tradition or consensus around formulating its unique selling point. Different concepts like access, trust and safe havens were suggested by the audience. The discussion also focused on the possible tension between libraries and other organizations combating the digital divide, like the Telecentres. Since libraries already have an excellent infrastructure paid by the government, shouldnâ€™t they be the ideal places to focus on e-inclusion efforts? Although Telecentres have been filling a gap in some places the audience feels that cooperation between all kinds of organizations involved in e-inclusion should be a priority. Rather than creating a diversity of seemingly competing initiatives one should foster old partnerships, find new ones and plan collective actions.
Day 2: Transforming Access to Digital Europe Day 2 considered the transformative roles of Europe’s public libraries, by examining the wider impact that they can have to empower the Digital Citizen and include those with barriers to access whether economic, skills or accessibility based. The presentations and workshops featured a broad range of topics like: • • •
Repositioning the role of libraries within the digital landscape Sustainable partnerships for the future Libraries as a key tool of transition
Session 1 Repositioning libraries in a new digital landscape Session 1 of the second day wanted to challenge participants to look at how public libraries need to be reconceptualised in order to be seen as a key service and delivery model that can be integrated into mainstream European policy and funding. A panel of speakers examines the local library and its future, setting out in their opinion what its ‘unique selling proposition’ is. Role of Public Libraries in Latvian e-inclusion Context Signe Balina, President, Latvian information and Communications Technology Association Mrs. Balina introduced the audience to the successful role Latvian public libraries play in combating the digital divide. In Latvia, all the e-inclusion stakeholders such as the central and local government, NGOs and business companies work together to overcome exclusions and achieve their goals. Over the last year the public libraries - with their excellent ability to network - have played a vital role in this process. Latvia’s 874 libraries form a bridge between people, knowledge and information. Research showed that when asked how the library improved the quality of their life, 35% of the respondents answered that it allowed them to access e-services. Over the last 5 years, the public libraries were transformed into modern information, knowledge and community centers; not only by doubling the number of computers but also by providing Wi-Fi access in all of them. These investments proved to be very useful since 21% of the Latvian population relies on the library as their only access point to the Internet. Although the figures provided by Mrs. Balina already give us a good overview of the success of this e-inclusion project, she put Stuart Hamilton’s plea for stories into action by showing the participants two videos that gave an insight into how the public library positively changed the lives of Aija and Matiss, two Latvians who suffered from social exclusion before they discovered the possibilities the library could offer them.
Repositioning public libraries in a new digital landscape: the unique selling proposition of the public library Jan Braeckman, Director, Bibnet In his presentation, Jan Braeckman re-opened the discussion about the unique selling point of libraries that dominated a large part of the discussion during the previous day of the conference. Bibnet, founded in 2009 to help Flemish public libraries with the technological challenges of this digital age, found it useful to identify the core businesses of modern libraries. The outcome of their study presents a shift from the traditional model with the collection as the heart of the library towards a model with four pillars: • • • •
the collection; the library as a place; presentation & interaction; creating demand.
One cannot deny that the collection still forms a vital part of the public library but it is more and more supplemented with other equally important selling points. The library is becoming a tangible space: a place to study, to meet people, to discover new things and new library buildings are often prestigious projects in which the library itself is transformed into an important landmark. Both of these aspects - the collection and the physical space - draw people into the library from a supply point of view. At the other end of the scale Mr. Braeckman extended his scheme with two more selling points from the demand side. On the one hand, libraries focus more and more on (digital) presentation of their collection and services: they present themselves online, link news items to works in their collections through blog messages and interact with users on whole different scales thanks to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, they organise all kinds of activities as an extension of their collection, not in the least many of these initiatives are to help bridge the digital divide. As a conclusion, Mr. Braeckman identifies a unique selling proposition consisting of 5 elements • • • • •
The rich and diversified (physical and digital) collection, local and networked; The accessibility, ease of use, contextualization and presentation of collections; The way the library addresses people in their own (physical and digital) environment; The way the library stimulates and helps specific people and groups in society; Being a public space, close by and open for all.
Urban Mediaspace Aarhus Marie Østergård, Project manager, Aarhus Library Marie Østergård presented the plans that will transform the library of Aarhus into an urban mediaspace. The project involves more than building a new library: it aims to transform the harbor area and open up the stream. Aarhus Library is intended to become a space for cooperation, a place where families spent time together, where the library and other organizations 10
find each other and build new synergies. This ‘library of the future’ housed in a building four times bigger than the current one wants to give the extra space back to the user - as both meeting places and performance areas - where people can leave their mark. In preparation for the new building, the library of Aarhus is already experimenting with what they call the ‘Aarhus method and mind-set’. It involves a lot of testing in the present library based upon user-driven innovation and processes that try to involve all stakeholders, including the public. They rethink the way they deal with partnerships, experiment with digital installation in the physical library, hire non-librarians to reach out to target groups like youngsters and develop personas to test services against the target public. Aarhus’s Urban Mediaspace will take the form of a ‘mash-up’ library. It will focus on inspiration, learning, meeting and performance. Mrs. Østergård referred to the ongoing discussion about the unique selling point of libraries and names ‘diversity’ as the USP for Aarhus. She also echoed previous speakers by stating that the future library will be about relations and not about transactions. Redesigning the role of public libraries in Romania Doina Popa, President of the Association of Public Libraries and Librarians in Romania Mrs. Popa sketched the implementation of the Biblionet Programme in Romania, financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and implemented by the IREX Foundation. During the last four years, this project made a large contribution to the decrease of the digital discrepancy between urban and rural areas by endowing thousands of public libraries with hardware and network facilities and by training the staff. The modern public library system - created by Biblionet - helped to support the process of einclusion by expanding the access to broadband Internet and by providing digital literacy skills training in the field. Like in previous presentations Mrs. Popa stressed the need for coordination of e-inclusion actions by integrating all stakeholders. Through this way Romanian public libraries have become essential leverages in developing public services and supporting e-inclusion. Ms Popa summarized that the modern public library system created by Biblionet supports the process of e-Inclusion by the following means: • • • • •
Expanding the access for population to broadband Internet as a free service; Librarians’ participation to citizens’ "digital literacy" and skills training in the field; Ensuring equal rights of access to IT&C in public libraries; Informing citizens about the importance of IT&C for all professions and fields of activity; Advocacy actions to promote the role of public libraries to support E-Government services.
Session 2 Celebrating best practice: the transformative impact of public libraries Session 2 looked at a number of examples of excellence that clearly demonstrate the impact libraries can have on society, economy and growth. Each presenter was given five minutes to provide an overview of their project, the key beneficiaries and then the key outcomes. The National Digital Library of Finland (NDL) Tapani Sainio, Planning Officer, National Library of Finland Tapani Sainio presented the digitalization project of the National Library of Finland that aims to create a joint public interface for the materials and services of public and research libraries, archives and museums. The NDL project - which will be in operation in 2012 - will digitize key materials, create a long-term preservation solutions and promoting interoperability between the different partners. By offering them one portal instead of over 20 services, the National Digital Library offers faster information retrieval to professionals and users of libraries, museums and archives. Public libraries are an important partner in the project since they provide a mass of users for the tool. LINC-wijs at the library of Oosterzele Laure Van Hoecke, Coordinator LINC, Belgium In 2009 the library of Oosterzele wanted to start a special e-inclusion project. They asked the advice of LINC, an organization that wants to stimulate information and literacy skills and help people to participate fully in this digital information society. They developed a project in which they reached out to semi- and low skilled workers from the municipality services and converted them into ambassadors for the libraries IT-workshops. By using a tangible end product like a cookbook or calendar, they engaged at first indifferent employees and turned them into enthusiastic media literates. The strength of the programme resided in the central theme of the workshops - the making of a cookbook, a calendar or activity file - which was closely connected to the social environment of the participants. Furthermore, the target group of low-skilled people who are normally not so easy to target by a public library, could now be reached thanks to the cooperation of other municipality services. Father’s Third Son: Success Story of the global Libraries Program in Latvia Mikus Ozols, Managing Director, Telia Latvia Mikus Ozols presented the story of the project Father’s Third Son that brought new life to the country’s 874 public libraries. The main goal of the project was to facilitate better and procreative use of resources offered through free access to IT, with the aim to improve the users’ quality of life. It wanted to enable specific communities to make use of the Internet, to ensure adequate conditions for creation and usage of e-content and to strengthen the library’s new image as an innovative place for information. 12
One of the pillars of the project was the comprehensive and intensive training of library staff. Next to the relevant IT skills, librarians also gained new knowledge about marketing, communication and overall library management issues. The project provided access to modern technology for the general library public; but also focused on specific groups like children, seniors, people with physical disabilities and social risk groups. Libraries for Innovation Ramunè Petuchovaitè, Ministry of Culture, Lithuania The Libraries for Innovation project (L4l), presented by Ramunè Petuchovaitè, wants to use and strengthen the capacities of libraries in order to achieve a better use of the possibilities of information technology in Lithuania. Like the project in Latvia, L4l thus aims both on the library staff and the general public at the same time, with a special focus on the elderly and people living in rural areas. Through the project public libraries in Lithuania now attract 28% new Internet users, some of whom the library is the only access point to digital information, especially during this economic crisis. Public libraries take an active part in e-inclusion through providing access and training over 20 000 citizens, reducing the number of non-users to below the 5% mark. The Social Digitization Workshop Remigiusz Lis, Silesian Library, Poland Remigiusz Lis presented the audience with the digitalization project of the Silesian Library, which provided not only technical services and access to the necessary equipment but also comprised an extensive training and support process for the staff of the 50 participating institutions. In addition, a number of student and senior citizens who acted as volunteers also received professional and media education, enabling them to play a vital role in the whole project. In this way, the Social Digitization Workshop not only provided more than half a million scanned materials for the wider public and the participating institutions, but through the use of volunteers it also offered students an interesting internship and introduced 12 senior citizens to new skills. They proved to be the main power behind the whole project, scanning over 400 000 of the materials now available through the Silesian Digital Library and Europeana. Library Gets Closer to its User: Development of new IT training initiative for socially marginalized groups in Latvia Egons Spalans, Director, Ventspils Digital Centre, Latvia In order to provide individual IT training to people for socially marginalized groups, the Digital Centre of the Latvian Ventspils Library set up a project to bring the training to the people’s homes. The project aimed to help people who have difficulties leaving their living places due to a physical disability, their age, the remoteness of their home and many more groups at the risk of exclusion, including young mothers.
By training the staff and equipping them with laptops and other IT equipment, the Ventspils Main Library implemented this as a new library service, teaching the target groups from outside the walls of the library how to use new digital services like the library catalogue. Due to the success of the pilot project the service has been extended to all 28 regional libraries in Latvia. How IREX’s Biblionet Program and Romania’s Public Libaries Increasingly Afford Access to eGovernment Services to Digitally Excluded Citizens Scott Anderson, Biblionet, Romania Scott Anderson gave the audience an insight in the Biblionet Program in Romania supported by IREX, an international NGO that oversees Global Libraries programs in Ukraine, Moldova and Romania. After 50 years of neglect during the Ceausescu dictatorship, Romanian libraries needed to revision themselves in order to serve community interest instead of politics. With only 10% of the population using public libraries they need a new impulse. The Biblionet project started in 2008 and since then, has equipped more than 900 public libraries with the information technology and trained over 1 300 librarians in using the new services and digital tools. Libraries proved to be an excellent choice for e-inclusion services due to their proximity to the target groups and the availability of infrastructure and professional staff members. Session Feedback Nathan Ducastel, Consultant, HEC Europe At the end of the session Nathan Ducastel reviewed the presentations and provided some feedback on where some of these projects can be connected to an EU policy level. He stressed the fact that although libraries face lots of challenges, the speakers testified of the immense amount of vitality and initiatives that are available in the sector. Mr. Ducastel linked the local projects to the Europe2020 initiative that focus on keywords such as social inclusion, empowerment and emancipation of the citizens of Europe in order to strengthen the knowledge society. Nathan explained that the key action 10 of the Digital Agenda, ‘Digital literacy and competences’ can provide libraries with an access key to become active in the European policymaking and to make libraries even more visible as viable actors towards a digitally inclusive Europe. Linking to the discussion of the previous day, Mr. Ducastel once again stressed the need for libraries to make a collaborative effort and formulate a clear unique selling point throughout the sector.
Session 3 Breakout workshops Workshop 1 | Building a Dialogue with Europe This workshop, chaired by Robin Knowles (Civic Agenda EU), followed up the first day of the conference, defining the transformative impact of libraries in a broader EU context. The audience was divided into three smaller groups, each focusing on one of the following questions: 1.
Why engage with the EU? Is e-inclusion the public libraries’ case towards Europe?
How can we gather more data and evidence on public library activities to build our case?
How should we, as representatives of public libraries, position ourselves towards Telecentres and Telecentres Europe?
The participants felt that the EU could play an important role in a more structural financing of public libraries across Europe. European policy makers should embrace libraries into their policies, giving them a clear function but also the necessary means to develop the public library system in certain EU members states, next to regional and social funding. To obtain this, libraries should organize themselves and work together to bring a coherent message to EU policy makers. They should describe how our society is changing and how this forms a challenge for public libraries. The libraries should establish a pan-European vision on the future role of public libraries in Europe and, based on this vision, relate to the EU agenda’s. Last but not least, they should make clear what libraries are doing to tackle those challenges and explain what the EU, in complementary actions, can do to help them. Regarding the second question, the audience felt the lack of a pan-European system for library statistics, like Libecon, an EU-funded project that does not exist anymore. Libraries should define their goal concerning evidence making and integrate this as an ambition in a EU project. Everybody agreed that this is core business for EBLIDA. As mentioned before by several speakers and during discussion on both conference days, libraries are excellent networkers. They should therefore treat Telecentres as partners and not as competition. Towards the EU we should stress the fact that public libraries can function as sustainable solutions, taking the same role as Telecentres and more.
Workshop 2 | Key Tools of Transition for Digital Age The workshop ‘Key Tools of Transition for Digital Age’, chaired by Helen Milner (Managing Director, UK Online Centres), considered public libraries’ roles and potential to act as a ‘development agency’ in a Digital Age. During the workshop a selection of resources, services and tools for various groups of library users and non-users were discussed and commented on. Three presentations were given, all devoted to various aspects of public libraries’ role and resources to support the development of local communities.
Agnieszka Koszowska (Information Society Development Foundation, Poland) in a presentation ‘Public libraries as “third places” addressing the digital divide’ showcased a Polish edition of the Get Online Week 2011 initiative. During the GOW public libraries throughout the whole Poland, participating in a special nationwide competition, organized informal meetings for digitally excluded citizens (predominantly aged over 50) and introduced them to the ICT tools. Get Online Week 2011 in Poland was a successful effort to encourage digitally excluded people to use new technologies in their everyday lives. Public libraries played an essential role in bridging the gap in digital divide, being a traditional ‘third’ meeting places, regarded by the residents as neutral, reliable and trusted institutions. The GOW 2011 in Poland has created demand for the ICT training for digitally excluded citizens delivered by libraries. More training opportunities for senior citizens are available now in Polish public libraries as a result of the initiative. Joyce Ray of University College London, Johns Hopkins University (previously with the Institute of Museum and Library Services) delivered presentation ‘Public Libraries in Action in the Digital Age’. She presented the IMLS activities supporting libraries and museums in the US to implement innovative programs and digital competency initiatives. The US public library successfully combine physical space and services to engage the audience and help their users develop digital skills. The examples include the New York Public Library (competitions announced via social media tools, the management blogs) and Chicago Public Library (YOUmedia – a learning lab for the youth) and learning resources for librarians to provide services for the unemployed (Project Compass: Lifeline for the Unemployed, The Learner Web: Web-based Adult Learning). The presentation ‘Public Libraries – key agents for accessible and inclusive technology’, prepared by Alistair McNaught and Dr Simon Ball of JISC, and delivered by dr Simon Ball, discussed the role of libraries in providing accessible technology to users and assisting them to effectively use the ICT tools. Public libraries may be the only place to learn about existing ICT tools, their applications, benefits as well as alternative formats or sources of information. Free of charge and easy to use tools (such as MyStudyBar) and simple techniques (changing word processor or browser settings) may increase the accessibility of digital content. Public libraries’ role and responsibilities to provide assistive technology and support for disabled users were also discussed. Disabled patrons (who may not necessarily regard themselves as disabled) experience barriers when accessing information available in various tools and formats
Workshop 3 | Sustainable Partnerships This workshop, chaired by Sally McMahon, Head of Public Libraries for Brighton and Hove in the UK, considered how public libraries can build relationships and partnerships with other organizations to deliver services and to respond to a world where interaction with Learning Providers, Public Services and Commercial Retailers is increasingly taking place. The workshop session opened with the presentation of Simon Bell, Head of Strategic Partnership and Licensing with the British Library. He demonstrated how the British Library benefited from no less than nine strategic partnerships. The need to digitize the collection, without the immediate funding at its disposal, led the British Library to work together with very diverse 16
organizations like the BBC, National Archives, Microsoft, Google and many more. Mr. Bell illustrated through some key projects the variety of models used for these kinds of partnerships, focusing on commercial aspects, copyright issues and other fundamental aspects of cooperation between the British Library and other organizations. The second presentation, given by Diana Edmonds, Assistant Director Culture services of Haringey Council, focused on partnerships between public libraries and relevant partners in the field of e-inclusion. To enable customers to get online, access the relevant content and communicate with the library; certain key cooperations are needed. In the case of Haringey, the most important partners are once again the BBC and the UK Online Centre Network. With more and more stress on e-government, the library actively helps the council to make their content more accessible. Another collaboration, with NHS, aims to help citizens book appointments in hospitals. Mrs. Edmonds concluded her presentation by stressing that the modern public library cannot act alone, neither physically nor virtually, but is part of a complex network. From a more research point of view, Ilse MariĂŤn from the University of Brussels, gave an update on the latest facts about the digital divide, focusing on the role libraries could play and the sort of partnerships that were needed to take on such a role. Her research department conducted a study last year, in which they made an inventory of e-inclusion initiatives in Flanders, of which more than 30% had a connection with public libraries. Since a nationwide initiative or partnerships is lacking in Flanders, collaboration between public libraries and social services, youth workers, adult education and other organizations, is situated at the local level: almost all initiatives are bottom-up. After these three presentations, the discussion was broken up into three smaller groups, focusing on the role of sustainable partnerships for life long learning and e-inclusion. The participants came up with some useful best practices for useful and successful cooperation between libraries and other organizations, by opening up for partnerships at different levels, but most importantly opt for those that work. Do not forget to build on existing collaborations, and aim for a win-win situation for all partners.
Closing Keynote – Revolution without Book Burning Helen Milner, Managing Director, UK online centres
In her closing keynote, Helen Milner, Managing Director of UK online centres, asked the audience to: “Imagine that a revolution has happened and that technology changed everything we do. Imagine that books and libraries don’t exist. What would still matter in such a world?” First and foremost, people would matter, in Mrs. Milner’s point of view. They would need access to technology and information for three main reasons: government, life and leisure. UK online centres would be a useful place for people to start their search. After 16 months, these 3 800 centres, half of which are situated in libraries, have helped 500 000 new people getting online. One of the foundations of the UK Online Centre Network are the 14 000 volunteers, an army of digital champions. Technology on the other hand is not important as such. It changes everything but at the same time, it changes nothing. It has become our everyday life and we take it for granted, even a baby can use an iPad. It is however how we use the technology that can have a transformative impact. Places on the other hand do matter. With the existing conflict between digital and real places, Helen Milner predicts that any future strategy that is based on a building is doomed. There is a revolution in the places we run and use. Internet changes post offices, libraries, even whole streets (through the success of online shopping and the related decline of small shops). Possible ways to tackle this can be found in the mobile UK Online Centre where the staff takes their laptop out into communities, in shared services where city council offices and library melt together, and in community-owned places that provide Internet training. Everywhere, people are rising up, creating spaces and places were they are collaborating and communicating with other people. Taking up the discussion from the first day on the conference, Mrs. Milner concludes that we do not have to ask ourselves what the unique selling point of the library really is, but what we want for our people and our communities. If we want fulfilled, nourished and knowledgeable people, is the library where we will find them?
Conclusions The two days culminated in a new momentum and energy for public libraries to engage with EU decision making structures and to become considered as vital agents for delivering EU einclusion objectives. Since the conference, dialogue with the European Commission has reiterated that public libraries who are providing innovative access to digital services and knowledge are very important eInclusion players. Moving forwards, the European Commission welcomes input from public libraries into consultation on future eInclusion policy and programmes, which is an exciting challenge for the library sector to respond to. The conference was privileged to hear from contributors from many public libraries and associations around Europe who detailed the impact of investment in public libraries around Europe. In return, the conference audience had the opportunity to listen to advice and offers of support from EC policymakers and advocacy experts on what public libraries can be doing to promote best practice at an EU level. This set in motion fresh discussions on the key opportunities that public libraries offer Europe as a solution for delivering E-Inclusion goals. A number of key challenges and opportunities for public libraries were identified during the conference as key calls for action: •
For public libraries to be considered as eligible actors in EU policy and funding programmes, they need to provide compelling evidence to demonstrate that they have the capacity to deliver key solutions at an EU level.
The functions and services provided by public libraries need to demonstrate a synergy with Europe 2020 flagship policies such as ‘Digital Society’, and show where key goals can be delivered by library functions.
There is an opportunity for public libraries to consider new models and reposition services in the key EU policy fields of inclusive e-government, lifelong learning and health information.
Public libraries need to focus on consumers’ needs and respond to the pressures of the EU labour market (for example, by 2015, 90% of jobs will require ICT skills in some form).
Civic Agenda EU together with its partners would like to thank all of the speakers and delegates who participated at the event again this year as well as its key supporters Bibnet, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and JISC TechDis. In early October a number of representatives from ECEI11 together with the steering group will be attending INNODIG the EU Presidency Conference entitled ‘Innovation for Digital Inclusion’ and will be speaking formally and informally about the key messages emerging from this conference to a wider influential European audience. 19
Over the course of the coming year the conference steering committee welcomes input, suggestions and advice from all who attended and therefore encourages you to get in touch as planning for ECEI12 gets underway. Further information as well as presentations and photos from ECEI11 and can also be found at www.ecei11.eu
Conference Report of the European Congress on e-Inclusion 2011