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
Published on Sep 17, 2011