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EVENINGWITH OMBUDSMAN

Report VIII Dissemination strategies for specific target groups of citizens.

Deliverable no. 8, point III b from the Project Description


EVENING WITH OMBUDSMAN - Empowering rural communities through knowledge on fundamental rights

Report VIII Dissemination strategies for specific target groups of citizens. (Deliverable no. 8, point III b from the Project Description)

1 Project co-funded by the DG Justice


EVENING WITH OMBUDSMAN - Empowering rural communities through knowledge on fundamental rights

Summary The main aim of the report is to present the possible and efficient dissemination strategies applied by rural community practicians as the basis for the EwO project. The second goal of the research is to draw attention to the most valuable and successful initiatives which should constitute an inspiration as far as the activation of the local communities is concerned. The analysis of dissemination strategies have been based on the survey made among the representatives of local libraries in Poland. The results show that adult library users most frequently (38%) use the library in order to settle everyday matters (using the Internet, preparing documents, access to sources of information), 14% were interested in obtaining information related to health issues (during meetings with experts). The librarians stressed the growing interest in libraries among seniors, children from poorer families and persons looking for work. Studies show that in local communities libraries increasingly serve as a Third Place – a meeting place which is friendly, open to all, which combines the advantages of private and public space.

2 Project co-funded by the DG Justice


EVENING WITH OMBUDSMAN - Empowering rural communities through knowledge on fundamental rights

The role of public libraries in local communities – latest research There is a number of studies and publications on the subject of public libraries in Poland, on their role and the characteristics of the local community in small towns and rural localities. The most recent one is the report "Why do Poles need libraries?" prepared by the Laboratory of Social Innovation and Research "Stocznia" after three years of implementing the Library Development Program. In 2012 quantitative and qualitative research was conducted on users and employees of public libraries participating in the Library Development Program throughout the country. The goal of the study was, among others, to show the use made of libraries by adults (as opposed to the group of school children and senior citizens). The results show that adult library users most frequently (38%) use the library in order to settle everyday matters (using the Internet, preparing documents, access to sources of information), 14% were interested in obtaining information related to health issues (during meetings with experts). The librarians stressed the growing interest in libraries among seniors, children from poorer families and persons looking for work. Studies show that in local communities libraries increasingly serve as a Third Place – a meeting place which is friendly, open to all, which combines the advantages of private and public space. The statements of the library users and librarians show that libraries are also a centre for adult education. 61% of the users of libraries claim that they develop their intellectual capital by expanding their knowledge and acquiring competences related to using the computer and Internet. In the context of the EwO project it is very interesting that only 17% of respondents believe that using libraries affects the participation level of citizens or is related to public affairs.

3 Project co-funded by the DG Justice


EVENING WITH OMBUDSMAN - Empowering rural communities through knowledge on fundamental rights

Survey – the activity of public libraries and ways of reaching the local community In order to develop a conception of meetings organised in local communities of small towns and villages a brief survey on public libraries operating among the target group of the project was prepared and carried out. For this purpose, a short online questionnaire was sent to more than 2,000 librarians. The questionnaire included five closed questions and 4 openended questions. They were answered by librarians from 74 libraries from across Poland. The activity of libraries: organising events The librarians answers regarding the question of the frequency of events organised at the public library demonstrate that more than two thirds of the surveyed libraries arrange additional actions aimed at the local community (not just the users of the library) at least a couple times a year. In almost 40% of libraries meetings are held at least once a month.

How often does your library organise meetings or events for local residents (not only users of the library)?

28,30%

37,80%

More or less once a year Several times a year Once or twice a month

33,70%

What decides about the success of an event addressed to the members of the local community? Respondents were also asked to give an example of an event organised by the library which they consider to be the most successful of all of its activities. In addition, the respondents were asked to indicate the factors which decided about the success of the event. The answers of the respondents pointed to the concept of the meeting, as a key factor which decided about the success. Many librarians said that the success of the event depended to a large extent on the involvement of the inhabitants of the area (already at the level of the organisation of the event). This view was also confirmed in the answers to the closed questions in which 58% respondents indicated that they try to involve the local community in the event this way. It was pointed out that participants are also attracted by additional attractions, including bonfires, picnics, workshops, organised competitions with prizes, free services, catering. 4 Project co-funded by the DG Justice


EVENING WITH OMBUDSMAN - Empowering rural communities through knowledge on fundamental rights

From the point of view of the EwO project it is an interesting conclusion that the success of the event depends on the participation of an individual who is known in the local community (celebrity, local hero, someone famous for his involvement in a particular case or activity). According to the respondents the possibility of integrating the area's inhabitants is an equally important factor which attracts the public. Quoted examples of such successful events included decoupage workshops for women, which drew women from the surrounding villages or an exhibition of old photographs from the collections of the inhabitants of the municipality. Some of the respondents' answers show that the success of a public library as a community leader also depends on the fact whether its offer tries to address the needs of the local community and respond to emerging issues. An example of this type of activity can be seen in the creation of a local toddler club in response to the lack of a day care centre in the area or in the activation of seniors (e.g. measures aimed at preventing the digital exclusion of this group). Some respondents pointed to major problems in reaching members of the community: For years we have been making efforts to reach out to the local community and to the inhabitants of the countryside and the results are moderate. In the questionnaires the respondents also tried to establish what did 'success' in the case of a public library mean. Typically about 30 was indicated as the number of participants in a library meeting: if 30 people came to the meeting it was considered a big success. Among the groups that are involved in the activities offered by the library most often and most actively are seniors (50 +) and young people of school age. The cooperation of public libraries with local partners The study shows that public libraries look for support and gladly cooperate with local institutions. 90% of libraries cooperate with public institutions when organising events aimed at local communities. 56% of librarians cooperate with non-governmental organisations, 80% – with local associations (e.g. circles of rural housewives). 70% of the libraries work with local enthusiasts and volunteers. Promotion of events organised by libraries According to the respondents the most effective and most widely used (93%) way of reaching the target audience is directly informing specific groups of people (associations, special interest circles, schools) about the event and putting up posters (100%). Advertisements placed on the library website or on the Facebook fanpage are a bit less popular. 80% of libraries use local media, and 28% use parish announcements. 72% of libraries use buzz marketing to promote events. Other ways to promote include: sending an information to the village administrators, announcements on notice boards of the website of the District Council, schools and health centres, and distribution of personal invitations (via traditional or electronic mail). How to encourage participation in the event? How to reach specific groups? The respondents pointed to a number of important elements of the meeting which encourage or discourage potential participants. An important issue often mentioned by respondents is the "contextualization" of the meeting. The topic of the meeting should be connected to current problems of the local community. 5 Project co-funded by the DG Justice


EVENING WITH OMBUDSMAN - Empowering rural communities through knowledge on fundamental rights

This principle should also apply to the diffusion of information on the event – it should be distributed by community members (leaders, people who have encountered the problem). Librarians, as experts working on an everyday basis with the local community, have been asked how to prepare and promote a meeting for five different groups (women, seniors, professionally active people, families, people aged 18-30). They were asked to make use of their own experience. In their answers the respondents emphasised above all how important it is, in the case of the organisation of events for different groups, to cooperate with certain institutions (e.g. school, church, health centre), and to obtain the support of local activists (e.g. the help of circles of rural housewives in the organisation of events for families). The respondents indicated that professionally active people, especially men, were the group that makes use of the library offer the most rarely. At the same time it was stressed that the same people were involved in other meetings on different important local issues (city council, changes in the law). Some respondents answered this question with the statement: I don't know what else could be done in our community to attract them to an event organised specially for them. The respondents emphasised that children and young people have contact with the library most frequently and it is this group that brings adults to the library. This is why promoting events at school or through schools is very effective. The answers of the respondents were similar in the case of the group aged 18–30. It was pointed out that the events aimed at this target group should give the opportunity to be active during the meeting and to influence its course. When describing activities for young adults the frequently mentioned form of meeting was a workshop. When it comes to organisational matters the respondents pointed to the importance of such aspects as choosing a convenient date, no fees for participation, organising an additional offer for children that would enable the parents to attend the meeting. Problems related to the organisation of events The biggest problem in the organisation of events (other than a financial one) mentioned by the respondents was the low level of involvement and interest in the local community (63%). The librarians were also asked to describe an event which they regard as failed and to attempt to identify factors that may have caused the failure. The most commonly cited problem was the low turnout at organised events and meetings. Another common problem was the lack of interest from the part of local community leaders whose presence would encourage participation in the event. Conclusions The study led to the following conclusions relevant for the Evening with Ombudsman project: •

The most common cause of failure of events organised by public libraries is the small level of commitment and interest among the local community.

A factor increasing the likelihood of success of an event is the involvement of the local community at the stage of organising the event. 6 Project co-funded by the DG Justice


EVENING WITH OMBUDSMAN - Empowering rural communities through knowledge on fundamental rights

The "contextualisation" of the event increases the probability of interest in the local community. This applies both to involving people from the local community (local authorities, leaders) in the promotion and organisation of the event as well as the issues raised during the meeting.

The groups least involved in local events are professionally active people and young adults (18-30 years).

The libraries actively cooperate with local institutions and groups. This cooperation facilitates the promotion and getting through with the information to different target groups and engaging the local community.

7 Project co-funded by the DG Justice


EVENING WITH OMBUDSMAN - Empowering rural communities through knowledge on fundamental rights

Annex. Questionnaire for librarians 1. How often does your library organise meetings or events for local residents (not only users of the library)? •

More or less once a year.

Several times a year.

Once or twice a month.

Our library does not organise any events or meetings.

2. If your library organises events which of them was the greatest success in the activities of the library? Please describe if briefly and justify why you consider it a success. 3. Does your library cooperate with local partners when organising events? (You may select more than one answer.) •

We cooperate with public institutions.

We cooperate with NGOs.

We cooperate with local associations.

We cooperate with the parish.

We cooperate with private companies.

Local activists help us.

We work with volunteers / friends of the library.

We do not cooperate.

Others:

4. How do you promote events held in the library? (You can select more than one answer.) •

We directly inform specific groups / individuals (schools, circles of interests, etc.) about the event.

We use parish announcements.

We present the information in the local media.

We announce the event on the website of the library / on Facebook.

We put up posters informing about the event.

Through buzz marketing (word of mouth).

Others:

8 Project co-funded by the DG Justice


EVENING WITH OMBUDSMAN - Empowering rural communities through knowledge on fundamental rights

5. How do you encourage residents to participate in the event? (You can select more than one answer.) •

By inviting an interesting person / expert / instructor.

By involving the local community in the preparation of the event.

By providing additional benefits from participation (e.g. expert advice, free services, personal development).

By organising competitions with prizes, preparing a treat, etc.

Others:

6. Based on their observations please specify what attracts people to different kinds of events (not just in your library, but also other local events). 7. In the context of your experience in the organisation of events, please write what kind of promotional steps you would take in order to attract the following groups: •

family: what type of meeting would you choose for this group? How would you promote the event?

professionally active people: what type of meeting would you choose for this group? How would you promote the event?

people aged 18–30: what type of meeting would you choose for this group? How would you promote the event?

women: what type of meeting would you choose for this group? How would you promote the event?

seniors: what type of meeting would you choose for this group? How would you promote the event?

8. What kind of problems do you encounter when organising events? (You can select more than one answer.) •

problems with getting through to / encouraging target groups

problems with promotion

little involvement / interest in the local community

lack of financial resources,

lack of experts

lack of appropriate materials

others:

9. Do you remember an event held in the library, with which you were not fully satisfied? Please describe it briefly and try to establish what should be done differently in the future?

9 Project co-funded by the DG Justice


Report VIII