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.
Published on Sep 17, 2011