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.
Conference Report of the European Congress on e-Inclusion 2011