Page 1


TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. Executive summary


2. Introduction


3. Users


4. Benefits provided by libraries


a. The Third Place


b. ICT


c. Intellectual capital


d. Socialization


e. Self-realization




Daily life practices

g. Social integration


h. Civic participation




Professional sphere

5. Changes in libraries


a. The Offer


b. Space


c. People


d. Actions


6. Foreword – who needs the libraries and for


what purpose? 7. The Team





›› The library is for its users a natural socializing place – a place which is supportive, safe and friendly. The library is always open to everybody. › The libraries participating in the Library Development Program (PRB) are visited by as many as 2,667,000 people of the age of at least 13 years! They are the inhabitants of towns and villages of up to 20 thousand residents. Library users account for almost 30% of the inhabitants of such town and villages. › The libraries participating in the program successfully attract groups of people that use the libraries in sort of a natural way - children and adolescents on the one hand and middleaged and older persons on the other. Those who remain between these two groups, visit libraries less and less. › Librarians have noticed a growing interest in libraries’ offer among senior citizens, children from economically disadvantaged families and job seekers. Despite the fact that libraries are trying to adapt its offer to the needs of people with disabilities (e.g. increasing the availability of borrowing books from a distance), they still fail to attract such people to libraries. › In their localities the libraries increasingly serve as the Third Place - a meeting place which is friendly and open to all, combining the advantages of private and public spaces. › Libraries also allow for an access to modern technology. In many small towns libraries are one of the few places where you can use for free the Internet, scanner or printer. Surprisingly significant is the role of library computers in reducing digital exclusion - as many as 37% of respondents used a computer for the first time in their life in the library. This factor is most important for groups that are usually associated with the digital exclusion: farmers (55%), pensioners (48%) and unemployed (52%). ›› Thus, the library is not just books. In the same building its users can do very different things. As a result, libraries are becoming places through which people receive a number of differentiated benefits. › The largest group of benefits is related to self-realization. We are talking here about all activities related either to culture or entertainment, development of various passions, interests and hobbies. At least one activity of this type is mentioned by each two out of three users of the libraries participating in the PRB (66%). › Almost as many PRB library users (61%) say that they do in the library things related to the development of their intellectual capital: education (including education of adults) and competence related to computers and the Internet.

4 › An important sub-category of a group of benefits related to intellectual capital are the benefits related to the socialization of young people. Libraries fulfill the "educational gap" by creating a safe place in which you have to adjust to the established rules, but you can at the same time learn a lot and discover your talents. › Another group of benefits is social integration. It includes two dimensions - communicating with others and local identity including all activities related to looking for, building and maintaining such identity. At least one of the activities from this group is mentioned by more than half of the PRB library users (55%). › Daily life practice (42%) relates to a diversified range of issues. You have here the benefits related to travelling and tourism, home and family, health, shopping, fashion and sports. To a large extent they are being attained thanks to the use of access to modern technology especially the possibility of looking for information in the Internet. › Two smallest groups of benefits are the benefits related to civic participation, or more broadly - public affairs (17%) and the professional sphere (16%) - both searching (and finding) job, as well as the fact that for some of its users the library provides a space where they can do their job: that they have a desk, computer with Internet access and tranquility there.

›› In recent years libraries significantly changed their offer and they way they function. › Libraries are still not quite active in seeking funds, they do not attempt (on a large scale) to prepare proposals, projects or attempts to raise funds from other sources. The organizer still remains the key source of funding for libraries. The guilt here lies not entirely on the libraries’ side, it also stems from the fact that we still do not have too many options for obtaining external funding for activities undertaken by libraries. › Librarians are slowly moving away from thinking about the library only as a place to read (although it is still a crucial role for them). They enrich the library offer by activities related to modern technologies and social animation. Librarians undertake actions in order to make the additional offer attractive, especially for the groups which are not the "obvious" library customers and which are more difficult to be reached by the standard offer. › It is clear that the activity of the libraries participating in the PRB increases. They undertake more and more diverse activities that are related not only to reading. › The libraries increased also their activities in the field of cooperation with other institutions active in the community. This is evident especially when you look at senior clubs, circles of rural housewives and volunteer fire brigades.



NTRODUCTION Since 2009 the Information Society Development Foundation implements in Poland the Library Development Program (PRB)1, which aims to strengthen the capacity of public libraries in small towns. The Library Development Program in Poland is a joint venture between Bill and Melinda Gates and the Polish-American Freedom Foundation. Through this program modern and active libraries help the residents to participate fully in social and economic life, providing places of access to knowledge, information and education, as well as providing space for meetings and events that engage the local community. Activities under the program include equipping libraries with IT hardware, a series of practical training for librarians, strengthening library environment and promotion of libraries2. Since March 2012 a study was conducted, focused on the type of benefits provided to people by libraries. Within the scope of the study the following research was carried out: ›› Quantitative research: › A survey on a representative sample of Polish citizens/PRB (CATI) library users N = 13003. Only persons aged 13 years and more took part in the survey, so some of the results presented in the following report do not include younger children. › A survey of heads of libraries participating in the PRB (CAWI)4 › An online survey of users of computers provided to libraries participating in the PRB (CAWI)5 ›› Qualitative research carried out in six municipalities in the form of case-studies. The study included interviews with library directors, users, residents and representatives of local authorities. The authors also collected photographic material, which is used in the present report.


In 2008 a planning phase was implemented, which included research, analyses and reports on the operation of the network of libraries in Poland and their institutional environment. Reports from this stage of the PRB are available at the website: 2 For more details cfr.: 3 The report on the research prepared by Hubert Borowski entitled „Co robimy w bibliotekach i co dzięki temu zyskujemy?” (What do we do in libraries and what we gain by this), accessible at: 4 The report on the research prepared by Tomasz Zając, entitled „Biblioteki po PRB oczami dyrektorów” (PostPRB libraries as seen by their directors), available at: 5 The report on the research prepared by Hubert Borowski entitled „Co robimy na komputerach w bibliotece i co z tego mamy?” (How we use computers in the library and what gain by this), available at: tece_raport_PRB.pdf

6 The report "Why Poles need libraries" is an attempt to present synthetic conclusions from all the above mentioned studies. It includes both the quotes and stories gathered during the qualitative part of the research as well as hard data from quantitative research. This makes it possible to show the role and importance of libraries for the people and communities from different perspectives. This allows for a comprehensive and exhaustive discussion of benefits obtained from activities of the libraries. The report consists of three parts. First, we focus on who visits the library and who are the users. The second part is devoted to a detailed discussion of the benefits provided by the libraries to their users and other members of the community. Within the analysis we identified two main categories of benefits: vertical and horizontal, which intersect all others. The last part is devoted to the changes that have occurred in recent years in the libraries participating in the program. The report includes statements of the interviewees. The quotations come from two sources: ›› quantitative survey - answers to the open question in the survey of librarians (library directors were asked to describe a story of the user who in their opinion has gained most from the new measures taken by the library):

50-year-old female pensioner. Through participation in the library-held activities (knitting club, bookdiscussion club) she gained the opportunity to present her skills and to spend time in a nice way.

›› qualitative research – opinions of the residents of six selected municipalities the libraries of which are involved in the PRB: Who is so lucky as we are? We have a place to meet, our own place. We have perfect conditions, everything under one roof: music, films, everything!

The data collected in the course of quantitative and qualitative research show that the benefits the users receive by using the library are very diverse. Their intensification and character vary according to specific user groups. Their scale and scope are also not uniform. Not all of them are therefore very common, not all involve a significant part of users. But all are a sign of positive development and all show that libraries are important institutions. The data from quantitative research and material gathered during the interviews show not only the potential that lies in the libraries, but they also indicate which areas are worthy of increased interest and support. They have in fact large-scale potential to intensify their impact. The benefits described in the report could certainly be used for creating library offers and library-supporting activities.




The libraries participating in the PRB are visited by 2,667,000 people of the age of at least 13 years old! Library users constitute therefore almost 30% of the population of towns and villages of up to 20 thousand residents!

*Persons aged 13 and more years old


Scope of library activities6:


In the PRB-covered communities: 2 509 000 residents borrow books 672 000 residents use computer and/or Internet in the library 694 000 residents use printer, scanner or Xerox machine 560 000 residents came to the library to meet someone 507 000 residents took part in meetings and classes 80 000 residents took part in a course or training

Readers, clients, guests, frequenters, users, regardless of how we define them, they are the most important persons in the libraries, without them the existence of libraries would not make no sense. Who do we usually meet in the library? Certainly women - they constitute nearly two-thirds of users. As for age, the libraries are mostly visited by primary and high school students, who represent 20% of users, while the group of university students covers 16% of users. However, the most important group of users are people of over 55 years of age - roughly one in five of library visitors is a person over 55 years old and since 2008 the share of such people among the PRB library users has doubled. These people are often professionally active - the number of pensioners among the PRB library users increases, but not so drastically. Chart 1, Profiles of users of PRB-covered libraries


Data for the 1st quarter of 2012.

9 The users of the libraries participating in the program are more and more often young people and persons of pre-retirement age. While the overall number of users is constant or slightly shrinks, the libraries participating in the program manager to more effectively attract children and adolescents on the one hand, and middle-aged and older persons on the other. Those who remain between these two groups, come to the library less and less. The library are also visited more often by children from economically less privileged families and persons without a job in the pre-retirement age. Unfortunately, you do not see a growth in another group of excluded - disabled7. The observed increases are welcome because they show that the libraries managed to attract two important social groups at risk of exclusion: children from economically disadvantaged families and seniors – the library offer contributes to reducing inequalities and increasing opportunities for people who are disadvantaged. Drawing the attention of library directors to seniors is also important in the context of the aging of population and the need to engage the potential of the seniors. Increased interest in the library among children from economically disadvantaged families is also important because of the socializing role played by libraries in small towns. Librarians fulfill the "educational gap" by creating a safe place in which you have to adjust to the established rules (as discussed in detail in the chapter on the group of benefits: intellectual capital, socialization).


More details in the partial report on the research „Biblioteki po PRB oczami dyrektorów” (Post-PRB libraries as seen by their directors), p. 26.



ypical user profiles Below we present user profiles created by the researchers in order to show what types of people usually visit the library and what they do there. The profiles show a variety of user groups. They are not descriptions of real persons but a compilation of profiles of the users encountered by the researchers in the field. They should be treated as ideal types.

›› Active senior woman Maria is 64 years old and for the last two years she is retired. For almost all her life she worked in the municipality office in a town situated near the village she comes from. Here also there is a branch library which Mrs. Maria visited as a child. When she studied and worked she would come here a lot less often. After she retired, she got a feeling that she wasn’t useful to anybody and she was plagued by loneliness and sense of emptiness. But she did not give up and decided to direct its steps towards the library. She was very surprised by what she saw. Renovated space, more cozy and colorful, with a lot of children and young villagers sitting in front of computer screens. In another second corner she saw a group of her peers - as she later learned, they were women who meet here under a program run by the Third Age University. Once a week they meet in the library together to knit and gossip; every Thursday volunteer Agata teaches them English. Mrs. Maria came to the library several times to borrow a book or read local newspapers, later she became a permanent regular.

Today she is one of more involved users, she stops in the library almost every day and every day in another case - once she shows up to take part in a meeting of the Rural Housewives Circle, which she

11 set up by herself, another time she just drops in, to reveal latest news on the village life with Mrs. Krysia (library director), two times a week she picks up from here her granddaughter, who for some time now attends library-run theater classes. It was in the library were she actually for the first time forced herself to” make friends” with a computer - her colleagues from the Third Age University persuaded her to join with them a computer course for seniors. It turned out that "the devil is not so scary as he is said to be." Maria is now a very busy woman, her children say laughing, that she is the most busy retiree, the world has ever seen. Maria loves to be in a constant motion, as then she feels needed and much younger than she in fact is.

›› Young mom Aneta is 20 years old, most of her female friends do not have children yet, her husband works a lot and her parents live 50 kilometers away, so on a daily basis she has no one to talk to. During the last grocery shopping she took with her a free local newspaper, which announced that the local library organizes weekly combined classes for children with their parents. She was not aware that in a library you can do anything else than borrowing books, honestly, she stopped by a library a few times in her life, when as a high school student she had to borrow some mandatory reading. She hesitated for a long time as she had no courage to go. Finally, she dropped into the building under the pretext of borrowing of looking for a novel to read.

She was warmly welcomed, and as the director noticed that she came with a small child, she immediately offered her to take part in activities in which young mothers with children, both infants and several years old, read aloud stories and volunteers play with children inventing all sorts of fun. After the first session Aneta was very pleased: her daughter at first was a little afraid of other children, but then she made friends with them. Aneta met a few girls who like her have small children, and learned that their experiences were very similar to the experience of Aneta.

12 For some time the moms who know each other from these classes began also to meet outside the library. They meet together at certain hour at a playground. Aneta started also to use other library services. She uses a laptop in the library and is very active online forum dedicated to the education of children, she is more and more interested in this subject, in the library she reads periodicals devoted to motherhood and borrows from there guides on the subject. Issues related to the upbringing of children attracted her to such extent that she bashfully started considering studying pedagogy at the university, and then opening, together with the friends she met in the library, of a baby club, because there are more and more mothers with children while there is no such offer yet in their locality. Such club could become another partner of the library – they both could implement projects directed at young children and their parents.

›› Student from a nearby school Piotrek will soon have to pass his high school graduation exam. He is 17 years old and as he is interested in aviation and cars, his big dream is to enroll for the Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering in the Warsaw University of Technology. He comes quite often to a branch library, which is close to his house. Usually he meets here his colleagues (he doesn’t even arrange such meeting, as usually one or another of his friend will be sitting there anyway) to play games online. Most of his colleagues like shooting games, but there are several others who are fans of games involving racing

cars or motorbikes. Piotrek loves those games. Often he comes here also to do his homework, as here he has access to books and a bit more tranquility than at home, and besides, when he has difficulty with anything, he can always ask the aunt (as the female library director is commonly called here) for help. Now Piotrek is facing a difficult task - he must prepare a pre-exam presentation for the Polish class. Together with the aunt they are wondering how to prepare an interesting presentation on "The pilots in the literature." For the time being Piotrek stays in the library in his free time after school;

13 when the weather is nice, he goes with friend to play football, but when it’s only a little colder, this branch library is actually the only place to go and then sit for the whole afternoon, where you will always have someone to talk to, ask about homework, play on the computer, watch TV series and movies on YouTube or even flirt with a girl.

›› Lad from the neighborhood Ten year old Mariusz moved here only recently. In his native village his dad could not find work for several months, and he was finally offered employment here, in town situated over 100 kilometers away from their home village. Mariusz’ mom is a housewife, but her life is not a rosy one as she has five children and hardly any help. Mariusz’ parents often lack money for textbooks and supplies needed for school. In the new school, even though it's been several months since his coming here, his friends still call him the "new one" and laugh at his careless appearance. For some time now Mariusz comes to the library after school to play on a computer, as at home they have only one computer, and many wishing to use it so he must share it with his four younger siblings.

Recently he spends in the library more and more time, because here he would never get bored almost every day there are some classes run there - English, origami, theater workshops (those he particularly likes) - usually he simply joins in and plays together with his peers, learning new things. This way he gets to know better also his classmates and in the school they slowly stop treating him as a new one. The library has become sort of his safe place, he likes the librarian very much and when other boys annoy him at school, it is just her, to whom he comes to complain as he knows that she would always find time and listen to him attentively. Spending time in the library made Mariusz a more confident person, he is no longer these shy new one. He started believing in himself and now develops bolder plans for the future – he would like to be an actor. After all, he already took part in several theater workshops, and they went pretty well.



ENEFITS PROVIDED BY LIBRARIES Libraries offer their users, as well as the entire local community very diverse range of benefits. For the needs of this report we created a typology of benefits, according to which we identified two main types of such benefits.

First, the horizontal benefits, that is those that intersect and relate to all the others and are kind of tools used to achieve the other benefits. They include the Third Place - benefits from the fact that the library becomes a meeting place - friendly, open to all, combining the advantages of private and public space as well as ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), or all the benefits of access to modern technology8. Second, the vertical benefits, which include six major benefits - those related to: self-realization, intellectual capital (including socialization), social integration, daily life practice, civic participation and professional sphere. All they will be discussed in detail further in the report.




he Third Place

The first of the horizontal benefits is the fact that libraries in small towns have all features of the Third Place. A library combines the best values of home - a family atmosphere, warmth, a sense of being "at your own place" with the best values of public space - the opportunity to meet new people and to spend time together with others. The library as the third place is primarily a meeting place. In sociology such concept “refers to an informal public space where people can meet for purely social reasons, establish new contacts and enjoy each other's company"9. A study conducted in 2009 in about a dozen of municipalities10 showed that residents of small towns and villages report a shortage of places (outside home), where they could spend time in a pleasant and profitable We feel at home here, we way. The greatest dream of all respondents was a nice could spend here half a day place open to all where you could come to in the or more time. And I have to afternoon – with no alcohol (because almost everywhere literally force my four grand there are places where you can get alcohol), but with children out of here!* coffee and cakes. The researchers then recommended supporting libraries in creating such meeting places and *Opinion of a senior female integrating the local community. Current research UTW participant indicates that this goal was achieved. The benefit defined as the third place is of horizontal nature - permeates and is connected with all other library benefits. Vertical benefits could not happen, if the library were not a "good place". Because the library could not function well without space and people (both employees and users) who create its atmosphere and through their presence generate a variety of benefits for themselves and others. When we come here to emroid, we also borrow books, but the most important is that we have a place where we can always meet each other and chat*.

*Opinion of a 50 year old participant in embroidery workshop. 9

A library in a small municipality is a natural place " to go to." Sometimes the library building is the only place on the map of the given community where everyone is a welcome guest, where everyone can come and feel comfortable, because the library is a public and free place, widely available and open to all. With the library, parents and grandparents have an alternative to sitting at home with the children on a rainy day, high school students can check what’s new on the Our Class social network when they wait for a school bus to come, while young people can watching the latest serial movies on the Internet instead of sitting idly at a bus stop. All this

Cfr.: Oldenburg R., Celebrating the Third Place: Inspiring Stories about the “Great Good Places” at the Heart of Our Communities, Marlowe & Company, 2000 10 Report prepared during PRB planning: Aleksandra Gołdys, Magdalena Stec (2008), Program Biblioteczny – raport z badań terenowych w 20 gminach (Library Program – report in field work in 20 municipalities), Maria Rogaczewska (2008), Raport z badań terenowych przeprowadzonych przez Lokalne Organizacje Grantowe w 58 gminach (Report on field work conducted by Local Grant Organizations in 58 municipalities), Millward Brown SMG/KRC (2008), Biblioteki publiczne – opinie, korzystanie, potrzeby (Public libraries – opinions, usage, needs). Reports available at:

17 constitutes an extraordinary openness and certain level of versatility of a library – everyone can enter it everyone will find there something for himself. And what's more, the access to the library is free. A young woman, a mother of two children. She moved to our town 10 years ago. She lacks local friends. She comes to the library regularly with her children, but remains always introverted. Since the librarian began to organize various activities, the young woman began to use them (urged to participate in them by another librarian). She attends the meetings of the Books Discussion Club, while together with her daughter she attends the Bookcase for the Youngest (children corner). What did she gain by doing this? A place where she can always come, where she met new people and began to meet them regularly, she started to open herself up to them, she now leaves her house smiling and happy. How do I know? She herself told me all this, she told me that thanks to the libraryrun activities and hearty librarians she managed to overcome her fears and can now enjoy the meetings with people in the library.

The new library has become a meeting place due to changes in space and greater openness of librarians. Many residents come to the library just to be able to talk to someone. Indeed, you can talk to and get the support of many people - librarians, who can give you advice on what book to choose, but who also, by becoming trustees of your secrets, will provide you with advice and warm words in any more or less serious matter. Conversations on everyday subjects, about the joys and sore points, are held also between the users – neighbors who didn’t see each other for long or newly met friends.



I have a place where I can come to

16% A place where someone will take care of my child

I have a place to work

90% A place you can always come tu, a warm and dry place

Sometimes I come to Mrs. Bożenka, director of the library, quite privately. Or she calls me and asks, "How are you today?" And when she senses in my voice that something is bothering me, she says: "Come and talk to me." I come, we talk, she always offers chocolate to comfort me. And I immediately feel better*. *Opinion of a middle-aged high school teacher



CT Modern technologies which are available in the libraries are a second group of benefits which we recognized as horizontal benefits – i.e. those which intercross all the other benefits. Efficient computers with access to high-speed Internet help the library to create an offer tailored to the needs of a contemporary user, a modern offer, attractive for all residents. Computers, Internet, peripherals are tools that allow to achieve a significant part of other benefits.

Thanks to ICT available at the library its users have an access to information and news. The respondents point also out to the benefits they achieved at school thanks to the library (better grades, completed final papers, passed exams). It is also important that, thanks to computers with Internet access it is 11% possible or easier to maintain and used computer establish contacts with others. Most but did not access the often, it is about establishing and Internet maintaining contact with friends (10%), 21% than the relatives (3%). This applies not used computer and only to children and young people – adults too appreciate the possibility to accessed the quickly contact their friends or relatives. Internet Interesting are the benefits related to daily life of the respondents (indicated by 14% of respondents), showing how computers - in this case provided by the PRB - make life easier. The responses 26% computer users here differ a lot and include inter alia: the use of online banking and ability to pay bills online or shopping via the internet, easier contact with authorities or a significant benefit of using a library computer for job search. Most job-searching respondents used to write a CV on a library computer (and often print it there) as well as to check job offers.

19 Chart 2, Benefits provided by computers in libraries

Library computers offer their users: enhancing computer skills


professional work


printing and multi-media


entertainment, games, free time


searching/finding job


daily matters, daily life


possibility of establishing/maintaining contact with friends and relatives


education, homework, preparing materials for school and studying


getting information

27% 0%







Not without significance is also the access to such equipment as: camera, scanner, photocopier, overhead projector, which help the library in organizing meetings, but also serve individuals and help them to deal There are many poor with everyday life’s matters. Libraries share their resources families with many with other institutions, thus promoting the development of kids. It’s mostly from local community. such families that kids come here*. Surprisingly clear is the role of library computers in reducing

*Opinion of a retired female library user who loves to read books

the digital exclusion - as many as 37% respondents used a computer for the first time in a library. It is most significant in the groups that are usually associated with the digital exclusion: farmers (55%), pensioners (48%) and unemployed (52%).

20 A retired teacher attended library-run computer classes for seniors. She often exercised her skills using library computers. As a result, she can now communicate with her son and grandchildren who live in Chicago. She also uses online shops and price comparison engines. She can use instant messaging and social networking sites. She acquired a greater confidence in the use of mobile phone.

People and computers in numbers11: In communities where PRB is run:



672 000 residents use computer and/or Internet in the library 248 000 users used computer for the first time in the library 188 000 users have an access to a computer in the library only, especially: persons 56 years old and older (44%) persons professionally inactive (pensioners – 37%, unemployed – 44%, persons not working – 50%) farmers (64%)


Data for the 1 quarter of 2012.




ntellectual Capital Libraries play a significant role in shaping the intellectual capital of the residents of villages and small towns, therefore we discuss this benefit as the first of the group of vertical benefits. They are institutions implementing the principle of lifelong learning (continued education). Students study in the library, prepare papers and pre-exam presentations. Both youth and adults learn foreign languages in libraries, while the seniors learn the art of handling computers. People of all ages gain new skills and also learn about various sources from which they could draw knowledge.

The most often indicated group of benefits were those related to the acquisition and development of new skills or acquiring knowledge. Libraries allow you to find the information you need, both thanks to the access to Internet and computers (including the use of educational software and e-learning courses), and through access to books and magazines. It also enables you to get a first hand expertise - by organizing meetings with experts (e.g. psychologists, doctors, artists). These types of meetings are organized by 25% of the libraries.

This English course for seniors, which I now lead… It was Mrs. Alice who suggested it, as she has a daughter in London, her son-in-law is from Nigeria, and many women here have their children abroad. And when they go to visit children, they have a problem to communicate at the airport and with the family, they cannot utter a word. So they started coming to my course. In general they are not self-confident enough but they quickly make progress (…) And when talking via Skype they tell their son- or daughet-in-law or Skype, what they learned:” Hi, how are you?!”, etc.*.

*Opinion of a volunteer who teaches English in a library

You learn about the world, politics, religion, well, I use the library very much to become a wiser and more educated person*. *Opinion of a female pensioner

In addition, libraries are places where you can learn in peace, or by working with others acquire new knowledge and skills. It is in the library where students can prepare their pre-exam papers, lectures, presentations, or write a composition. They use for that purpose not only books but also the software installed on library computers. They also benefit from the aid and knowledge of librarians themselves. Some users mention the successes that they were able to achieve thanks to the library, for example, say, due to preparing a paper or presentation (30%) and/or receiving a good grade (36%). Some even declare that thanks to the library they managed to enroll for the university (5%).

Libraries also help young people to plan their further educational path. It appears that the possibility of using computers includes also reviewing of educational offer of colleges or high schools (the possibility was used by about 10% of

23 library users) and securing the related enrollments (4%) - in this case the Internet is practically necessary, as the educational offer is sometimes available only through the Internet, as much as enrollment to various schools, especially universities. Chart 3, Activities related to intellectual capital. PRB libraries users

Besides, with a library people gain new skills: learn how to use computers, learn foreign languages, become acquainted with the secrets of the Internet. This is possible because of the increasingly richer offer of classes and courses offered in I participated in computer courses - I really the libraries not only for children and youth, liked it, as I need these skills to get some but also for adults. In 2012, training courses news. My grandchildren were not able to for adults (e.g. language ones) were teach me how to use Internet because they organized by 47% of libraries, and activities are impatient or believe that they know how, related to hobbies and interests directed that everyone should know. And here it was both to youth and adults – by 63%. taught in a slow and calm way and a lot of A special group of benefits is the people have benefited from this*. development of ICT competence. Generally, it is a self-made exercise in using a computer (7%), but 5% of PRB-library users points to *Opinion of a 65 year old pensioner, the help of another person, and 3% who returned to his homeland, having stayed in Chicago for 20 years

24 participated in activities related to ICT. Finally, 6% say they learned to use computers thanks to the library. Older people come to the library to learn how to use computers either through special courses, or individually, with help of the library staff. It is important that older people have the feeling that in the library you do not need to be ashamed because you do not know something as well as the feeling that librarians are better teachers than their own grandchildren, who often lack patience. A good illustration of the benefits related to gaining competence in the field of ICT can be a story about Mr. Janusz, quoted by one of the female librarians:

Mr. Janusz is a pensioner, who attended individual computer classes in our library. He learned to fluently handle electronic mail as well as Skype and instant messaging. With these skills he can have a free of charge every day contact with his daughter and grandchildren who currently reside in the U.S.. He always says that thanks to the library he is able to cross thousands of kilometers, is no longer lonely and does not miss his family. He systematically use the library room. Several months ago he bought a laptop and the Internet. Now he learns in the library, how to handle it.



ocialization An important sub-category of the group of benefits related to intellectual capital are the benefits related to the socialization of young people. Socialization is the process of acquisition by an individual of a system of values, norms and patterns of behavior, which are in a force in a given community. It is a sort of preparing young people to live in a group and to work together. The library is one of the places where socialization takes place.

Librarians fulfill the "educational gap" by creating a safe place in which you have to adjust to the established rules, but you can learn a lot and discover your talents. Designated rules teach children the principles of good behavior and discipline. Moreover, the actions taken She stayed in the so-called bad circles, started by the library teach young people having problems at school as well as in responsibility and teamwork. For many communicating with her peers. As soon as the local children the library is one of the few library received a computer with Internet access, places where they can gain social skills. her life changed completely, as she became a regular at the library and improved her school record. By coming to the movies shown in the library she managed to gain new friends among her peers*.

Joint activities (e.g. implementation of projects, assisting in organizing events) teach cooperation, mechanisms of group actions, responsibility, planning. These activities and being in the group *Opinion of a do not mean only peer relations, but female librarian also the relations between generations. Some libraries apply clear rules that you must respect in order to be able to use the library’s offer and wealth. Children must be polite, say "good morning", not swear. Thanks to this many of such children will learn the rules, which they did not learned at home or in school. One of the librarians involved in taking care of children introduced various rules for the use of computers - such as the mandatory 15 minute reading before using the computer. As it turns out, children are also subject to penalties for various I will tell you frankly: there is no place here to minor offences committed in the library – they go out. Even the older youth have no such are not allowed for instance for some time to place. There is only the playground or the use computers. library. Otherwise they could just sit at a bus What's more, thanks to a wide offer of stop and drink beer*. additional activities (courses, workshops, meetings with interesting people) libraries become a place to discover talents, they show *Opinion of a children and young people that you can spend resident of a very time in an interesting way, that you can and small village should take part in competitions.

26 Libraries excite thus your curiosity and increase self-confidence. This is especially important in case of children coming from economically disadvantaged families, and, as the data show, library directors have noticed that these children are more frequent visitors to the library. The socialization role of the library can be seen very well in a story told by one of the librarians, related to a seventeen year old boy coming from a broken home:

He used to come here and spend time in our library, he learned, participated in workshops, gained a bunch of new friends, developed his interests (aircraft, technology), learned to work in a group, learned to use computer and Internet, got help in submitting papers for high school. With a library he developed his interests, took part in a large town planning competition (he won first prize and valuable computer equipment), he changed his behavior (gained more self-confidence, learned how to act in a civilized manner in public or in dealing with peers), he entered an aviation school.



elf-realization The library becomes a space of self-development through free access to culture - the opportunity to learn about the latest and most important books, newspapers, films, as well as to participate in meetings with the creators of culture (artists, writers, actors), watch shows, in which local artists present their work - and also thanks to the widespread access to the Internet. Due to its openness and unpaid character the library compensates for limitations on access to culture resulting from the material status, in effect reducing the level of social inequality. Self-realization is the second benefit from the "vertical" group.

With free and easy access to culture, libraries create conditions for the development of both the spiritual and personal, as well as the social and cultural development. Readers can gain new interests, develop and deepen the existing hobbies, and also rediscover forgotten passions, because you can come to the library, watch a movie here and then talk about it, you can begin to crochet discovering in this way all of a sudden a completely new hobby, you can find an Internet forum of the growers of various species of tomato and thus become an expert in this narrow field. For example, one of the users, thanks to the library activities, became fascinated with photography: Thanks to the PRB grant under the Active Library program we held a photography workshop entitled "People of the municipality and their passions." One of the female participants in the workshop, thanks to the training run by a photographer, gained such skills in this field that she took one of the most prestigious places in the county photo contest. Another participant, in turn, dreams of the Academy of Photography. In small towns the library is sometimes the only place where you can spend your leisure time in a useful, safe and entertaining way. We are talking here about interesting ways of spending time, especially in places where there are no other cultural institutions, such as House of Culture. Children and young people willingly come to the library to play computer games (usually at home they have one computer for several people and it's The saying goes that those hard for them to get to it). Seniors come to the library in order to take who are busy will never get part in the discussion (under the Books Discussion Club) about a book old. We come here for five they recently read, , and then they would also borrow a book - for years now and this keeps us them it is an excuse to go out, meet people. When retired they young, as we always have experience the sudden excess of free time is a sad gift from the fate something to do*. and here they can be helped by a librarian, who organizes for them such activities as computer courses or meetings with travelers, but she *Opinion of a retired also – and first of all – female clerk In summer, when there is nothing to do, provides a place where we go to the library - to read a book or they can just come to, discuss certain topics. Many people come sit, talk and gossip. Some adults drop in to just pick up here, you can play cards with them or their children, while others come to attend a French use a computer – it is always better than course for beginners. sitting at bus stops*. *Opinion of a high school student, fan of board games

28 Chart 4, Activities related to self-realization. Users of PRB libraries

It is worth noting that a large part of the activities related to entertainment and leisure is of a group nature – in the group you play board games, but also on the computer. Also, watching films on YouTube, archived episodes of series movies or listening to the music are a way to spend time with others.



aily life

The third advantage of the vertical group is associated with every day matters. A modern library is now a combination of office and home - users can take care of many everyday life issues. With the availability of a variety of tools such as scanner, printer, copier, you can deal with People photocopy various those issues much easier and faster, thereby saving time. things - prayers, recipes taken The users can also do those things using the access to the form someone else, Internet, and they can be always helped by librarians ready documents, fragments of books, also paying for it, 20 to assist them in most situations. grosz for an A4 page*. Availability of such services as scanning, printing (including color printing), sending a fax, photocopying is particularly important in small towns, *Opinion of a where there are no other places offering such services. This makes the female small villages are no longer so much cut off from the possibilities offered librarian by a city life, their resident do not have to feel themselves as inhabitants of peripheral regions, they bibliotekarki approach in a way the sense of modernity. One of the librarians describes the history of a user who got a job due to the availability of such services:

I still remember well the man, who, thanks to the equipment obtained by our branch library under the PRB, was able to get a job in the Netherlands. First, he asked about photocopier (in this village it is available only in our branch library, as the school is closed during summer holidays), because he had to photocopy his passport. In the meantime, he called his prospective employer. It turned out that he had to download some documents from the company website, sign, scan and resend them. The man alone was not able to find the information and print it. However, with the help of a librarian he managed to send everything on time.

Visitors to the library learn how to take a better care of their health – they do it on the one hand via the access to the Internet - websites and online forums dedicated to health, diet and healthy lifestyle, and on the other hand the users are willing to participate in meetings devoted to this subject12.

A university graduate, working, for several years struggling with obesity, thanks to a library-organized meeting with a dietician, managed to lose weight over 10 kg, changed his eating habits, gained health. 12

For more details cfr.: the partial report on the research „Biblioteki po PRB oczami dyrektorów” (Post-PRB libraries as seen by their directors), p. 42.


Chart 5, Activities related to health

In the area of the benefits related of home and family the most popular is searching information on: cultivation of plants and garden (7%), recipes (6%), upbringing of children (5%), caring for pets (5%) or male-female relations. Opportunity to gain information in the library is also useful when planning traveling. Similarly, it is useful in matters relating to fashion and beauty – i.e. looking mainly for information on beauty and cosmetics (7%) and fashion (6%). Sometimes users use for this purpose films on YouTube and actively comment on the blogs and forums devoted to fashion. Some users (mostly female users) have also participated in meetings with a beautician or stylist. In the area of sports most active are primarily men, especially young men (older ones simply do not visit libraries). They look for information about their local teams and athletes (7%) as often as the other teams and athletes (7%). They follow coverages of sport events (7%), and even watch them (3%). Some (but not many) of them buy or sell sports equipment (1%). Internet in the library is rarely used for trade - if it is, it is used rather to test

31 and compare prices of products than to buy something in online shops and auctions, although, as studies show, "when making purchases online, which represent 2.9% of total retail, internet users can save about 15% compared to what they pay in traditional stores, even considering shipping costs"13.

There is an ailing man (applying for a pension), who often goes to the Gdańsk area hospitals and offices. So he often checks on the Internet about streets, bus routes and directions he must take to get to the desired place. Good planning of the journey allows him not to blunder, he is not upset and does not exert too much his weakened health.


Polska internetowa. Jak internet dokonuje transformacji polskiej gospodarki (The Internet Poland. How the Internet transforms Polish economy), The Boston Consulting Group, p.6.



ocial integration Libraries awaken and strengthen local identity, and thus become a source of pride for the residents. The positive valuation by an individual of his belonging to a community - local pride, the belief that such belonging is a source of values translates into a willingness to pay costs for the benefit of it and to engage in common matters. In other words, local pride increases the level of social capital of a community. Libraries also facilitate establishing contacts, meeting new people and maintaining relationships with friends and family members (especially those living far away). All this constitutes the fourth area of benefits provided by libraries - social integration.

The role of libraries in such integration I'm here almost every day as here I meet my child who is based on two dimensions. First, the comes to here from his kindergarten. And every time I library is a place of contact with others. meet someone , learn something, there is always big Sometimes these are personal contacts, movement of people here, with new a new persons mostly just talking to a librarian (35% of coming. These are usually the people who live here, users). In addition, in the library you can they come, as this is a point where you can meet others meet up with friends (19%) but also and learn what happens next to you*. meet new people (14%). Slightly less often such communication is arranged *Opinion of a mother through technology. The users not only who is a library user meet with others in the library, but they also establish contacts with friends and colleagues (6%) and family members (4%) using the Internet. A few managed to strike up new acquaintances through the Internet (2%). The library therefore allows for both the creation of new relationships and If there were no library, we would not know one maintaining old ones. This is possible another so well, as we would not stay in such close because it is an open, public place, contact. And now, when doing embroidery, we chat which also facilitates contacting about all stupid things [laughs]. Before each one of others online. us used to work somewhere so we hardly knew each other and only here we realized that we have a lot in common and like to have fun together*. *Opinion of a Third Age University student, who attends a weekly class of embroidery in a local library

The library is a place where you: meet people similar to yourself, get to know other people, get to know other residents who were previously Sometimes you drop in and everybody is already here. You don’t need to call anyone*. *Opinion of a high school female student


anonymous and unknown, a place of socializing for small children, who spend time among their peers, a place where intergenerational activities can be carried out. All this allows the local community to better know and respect itself and thus to work effectively. People get to know each other, they begin to believe in themselves, take new challenges and pursue various actions.

Jola is around thirty years old, educated but unemployed. She stays on maternity leave. Her main job was to be a housewife. She has two children: 5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. Bored, she used to spun around the city, and the obligatory strolls with her children rather tired her and bored. She learned about the library and activities organized there for young children. Without much hope she came with the kids to the library, pretending that she was about to borrow a book. She stayed there 1.5 hour, first she observed others and admired her own children, who easily came into contact with their peers. Then she came again, and once again, eventually becoming one of our regulars. She met other mothers, and later came with her husband, she made friends with several families. At a time when her kids were busy playing, she had a chance to drink coffee, read magazines and talk with other mothers on parental leave. I often meet Mrs. Jola: revived, with a different color of her hair, smiling, full of energy. After some time began she started leaving her kids alone at the library classes, while she was able to do some official business or small shopping.

Libraries are important institutions involved in the process of building local identity. The users look for in the library for information on their local area or region (28%). This is not all thanks to the library they have a chance to participate in meetings with someone who talks about the local tradition (9%), or in activities relating to the local tradition (7%).

34 Chart 6, Activities related to social integration. Users of PRB libraries.

Local identity is also strengthened by documenting local events, development and publishing of books (and other publications) about local history and traditions. In addition, the libraries collect local knowledge resources (archives, memorial books, Our branch specializes in social life etc.). Moreover, actions are undertaken by libraries which docs and it’s probably the only such allow for promotion of the municipality outside. library, which collects documents of At least one activity of the group the benefits related social life and so we consciously try to to the social integration is mentioned by more than play the role of the library as a half of users (55%). Communicating concerns in fact repository of knowledge about the local region*. all users, regardless of age and sex (i.e., the

*Opinion of a librarian

percentage of women engaged in these activities is similar to the percentage of women in the library at all), while local identity concerns in somewhat greater degree elderly people.

Expert comment P r o f .

A n n a

G i z a - P o l e s z c z u k ,


s o c i o l o g i s t

Changing world Technology has accelerated as never before: the world becomes global, people have in their possession increasingly more powerful tools to access knowledge and information, as well as opportunities to create and engage themselves in life of various communities. But exactly this is simultaneously becoming a source of new and growing inequalities. In a world of dynamic changes and information chaos you need most of all: competence, allies and safe place where everyone could find his or her way to wisdom and opportunity.

Importance of the libraries Such a place becomes in Poland - again - a library. Many Poles remember the role played in their lives once by books and the library itself: they owe them their own personal development, achieving of bold goals, moving beyond the constraints of their own environment. Then the magic of libraries somewhat faded, overwhelmed by the challenges of transformation in Poland and the fascination with new technologies which moved the books into the shadow. Polish libraries needed a new impetus and new tools to be able to play in the new world their eternal role: provide distant worlds, inspire people, promote their selfrealization.

“Factories of social capital� After years of oblivion, libraries begin to revive: they open up to people, actively identify their needs and enrich the repertoire of their services. Today's library carries a wide variety of activities: cares about early education of young children, supports mothers, organizes activities for seniors, helps to find job, makes available new technologies. In most rural areas in Poland it is the only friendly, accessible to all and selfless space. Changes that libraries cause in their communities require further care and support. We can already see that the libraries form a new quality of life "far from the main road." Rural areas are no longer a desert, where nothing happens, and after the collapse of the old neighboring communities people live alone. The library becomes a place of meetings and activities which practice the habits of cooperation and which recover values of the community: a sense of local identity and pride. Scholars would call this process creation of social capital. The more important, however, is that we simply have much more acceptance, respect and trust in each other.




ivic participation

The last but one benefit from the group of vertical benefits are those related to civic participation. The library can improve the functioning of the community, so it starts to solve its problems by itself. In addition, the library facilitates contacts with municipal authorities and urge local communities to take similar grassroots initiatives. Thus they contribute, though still in a limited way, to increase the level of involvement of citizens in local issues.

Civic participation can be broadly defined as a process during which citizens gain influence, and indirectly also control, over the decisions of public authorities, where these decisions have a direct or indirect impact on their own interests14. Libraries can assist in this process. Thanks to libraries residents can watch local politics whether by reading local newspapers (10%) or looking for information about the politics on the Internet (3%). Interestingly, only slightly more people look for information about national politics (4%). The library also has some – although still not too big - importance in the election process: 2% of respondents look in the library for information about local candidates, 5% took Were it not for the library, the residents would not have taken part in the Grand Charity Orchestra*.

Ladies from the library sometimes help me to prepare material – by contacting me with various people from the community as they know very well the people and the environment, while I am not from here but from another municipality*.

*Opinion of an about 40 year old editor of local newspaper (they publish news related to the community and the life of residents)

part in library-run electoral meetings, and 7% checked here the polls. Sometimes respondents get acquainted in the library with public documents (6%).

*Opinion of an adult user


See: Długosz Dagmir, Wygnański Jan Jakub (2005), Obywatele współdecydują, Przewodnik po partycypacji społecznej (Citizens decide. A guide of social participation), Warsaw: Stowarzyszenie na rzecz Forum Inicjatyw Pozarządowych (Association for the Forum of Non-Governmental Initiatives), p. 22.


Chart 7, Activities related to civic participation. Users of PRB libraries

Also the contact with municipal authorities is not very intense in libraries, although residents participate in meetings with representatives of such institutions (5%), look for information on their websites (2%), look for a contact to them (3%) or even contact them via the Internet (2 %). it appears that the role of libraries in the development of civic participation is in fact something more. The active and efficient libraries hire persons to whom you can turn to for support in local actions. Libraries provide their premises for meetings (of the Third Age University, Rural Housewives Circles), support (the funding of) talented people, help in obtaining funds (e.g. for new outfits for Rural Housewives Circles), help in writing proposals and share resources (space, equipment). Libraries also support local leaders, help them to believe in themselves, take actions and do something for the community.

39 Libraries support local organizations in the institutionalization and professionalization of their actions. Such situation is described by a librarian:

Close collaboration was formed between us and a leader of one of the local associations. Together we created the Volunteer Club and together we seek extra funding for its activities. In addition, jointly we organize educational activities in rural community centers, as well as exhibitions. In a joint initiative, as well as under the nationwide project Let’s Decide Together! a Civic CafÊ was set up, which is located in the library and brings together local leaders.


Expert comment E w a

S t o k ł u s k a , C i v i c P a r t i c i p a t i o n L a b o r a t o r y

Libraries’ potential Libraries are still strongly associated with the function of cultural institutions, but rarely with a place that can promote or even animate the processes of inclusion of citizens in co-deciding on the shape of their communities and public policies. Meanwhile, the institutions have, as it seems, a lot of potential in terms of encouraging people to get themselves involved in matters concerning development of their communities, including the processes of participation in public decisions. Libraries can themselves initiate and run such processes, for instance by participating in such action as "Your Voice, Your Choice”, organized by the Stefan Batory Foundation and the School of Leaders Association. Every year NGOs, local media, informal groups of residents as well as local institutions, such as community centers or libraries, engage themselves under the action in tasks that promote cooperation of residents with local authorities, by introducing mechanisms for sharing knowledge about the decisions of the municipal council, monitoring expenditure of funds from the “cork fund”, organization of village funds or preparation of social ideas for development of a certain part of public space. Librarians can become the leaders of such activities and encourage residents to participate in them.

Libraries as a natural partner It seems that libraries could also successfully be a natural partner of local authorities in the implementation of participatory processes. The place in which they are promoted, but also where local public consultation is organized – i.e. open consultation meetings, or also places for gathering feedback on plans for development of local space. You can then provide such plan in the library to the public, place its model there, place a case to collect the residents’ opinions or ask the planner to be present in the library and ready to open to residents’ questions in certain fixed hours. Residents could be more interested in such consultations, as then they could participate in them sort of "accidentally", i.e. when dropping in the library for other purposes, which for them would be easier than going to the office of the municipality.

“Participation incubators” Another idea for making libraries "incubators of participation" could be an attempt on their part to take into account participatory elements in planning and implementing their own activities, if only by inviting library users to co-decide on purchases of library materials (in form of e.g. a survey on the titles of books and newspapers, they would like to have access to in the library) or submitting proposals of activities to be held in the library. These relatively simple measures would help libraries to better address the needs of users, and yet they would have a great educational potential - the library in this way would show the residents that they can have some impact on public institutions.



rofessional sphere The last of the benefits is related to professional life. The library becomes still another place visited by job seekers. It is in the library, where they look for ads, write CVs and cover letters, use the help of librarians. The library helps you to search for, and sometimes even find your career path.

The library in many ways helps you to realize yourself in the professional sphere. For volunteers and/or interns it is a place to acquire first work experience and search for their career path. Sometimes it is in the library when they discovered their calling. I once looked for a job using On the other hand, for self-employed people the library is often the the library Internet. I wrote a place of work, where they can handle some of the office and cover letter, CV, I downloaded administrative work. Even though this is still very rare, the library is a sample and then started occasionally used for conducting business (1%), and to search for sending it. I accessed a website information useful in it (1%); sometimes too librarians with job ads in the coastal are consulted on issues related to running one’s own region and I kept looking for a company (1%). There are however very few people in job on the seaside! *. the libraries who run their own businesses. *Opinion of a library branch volunteer

Male 50+ years old, owner of a transport company, participant in library-run workshops. Gained skills in the use of IT equipment, which affected the ergonomics of working time in his company. He was able to plan and print in the library a route for particular trucks.

Library are also visited by job seekers. With the use of a computer with the Internet access they view ads, write CVs and cover letters, send the applications. Throughout this whole process, librarians assist job seekers, offering advice and assistance. Approximately 5% of the residents looked for a job with help off the library: preparing their CVs (3%), finding a job offer (1%) or finally finding a job (1%). In the library they also sought professional courses (3%) or participated in vocational training (2%). These percentage figures translate into 80 thousand of job seekers and 26 thousand of people who say they have found it.15


More on this in Hubert Borowski’s report „Co robimy na komputerach w bibliotece i co z tego mamy?” (How we use computers in libraries and with what benefits).


She was active, open, she worked for many years in Italy. Since coming back to Poland she could not find a job. Since we started running in the library computer courses, she took part in them. Step by step she mastered basic rules of using computer and the Internet. During the course sample CVs and cover letters were also created, which were then distributed to potential employers by email. The course participants systematically examined job offers provided on the website of the Labor Office. From 5 months now the above mentioned woman works in her profession as a technician trader.

The library is also a place where you can work: look for the information needed for your work (5%), use the advice of a librarian (3%), or just work in a quiet place (2%) or at a desk with a computer (1%). In the library you can also meet someone in a professional capacity (1%). 30 year old woman who lost her job and founded her own business, based on the Internet sale. She accessed the Internet in the library every day, because in the village, where he lives, there is no Internet access. In the library she had also the ability to print. She took a new challenge and now she gains more and more customers. She has money and satisfaction.

Persons involved in farming got their additional education and develop professionally in the library, achieve better and better qualifications by: looking for information mainly on growing crops (4%), breeding livestock (3%) and farming machinery (2%, while 1% say that they buy the machines over the Internet accessed in the library) and about the subsidies for farmers (2%).


Chart 8, Activities related to professional sphere. PRB library users


Benefits in a nutshell The new library becomes a natural social place for its users, a place that is supportive, safe and friendly. It is always open for all. The library is a place, where everyone can benefit from modern technology. In the library you can always find a variety of personal development tools as well as access to knowledge and information. The library is a tool box and an instructor. In the library you can learn new things that are useful in the modern world. The library serves an important educational function, thus equalizing the life chances (socialization in different situations, learning to be in a group). To a lesser extent than, say, school the library reproduces social inequalities among children. With libraries, people have a reason to leave the house. Leisure time is used now in a more interesting way. The library provides a variety of leisure activities leading to self-realization in various spheres of life. The library makes people more proud and more connected to their own village or town and local community. Library adds value to the sense of belonging. In the library old and new friends meet each other. A microcosm is being created there of people from different generations, interests and skills. The library is building social networks. The library is a shared resource, providing support in activities that build and strengthen the local community in the implementation of pro-social goals. The library has a subsidiary nature.



HANGES IN LIBRARIES The benefits that people get through libraries, emerged or increased their intensity through changes that happened in libraries in the past few years. These changes can be seen in four main dimensions:

›› Changes in the library offer ›› Changes in space ›› Changes in library workers ›› Changes in the way of functioning and organization of libraries More than half of the PRB library users PRB concluded that their libraries have changed, while 18% believe that they changed a lot, and 35% that the changes were not large. Chart 9, Did you notice any changes taking place in your library within the last 12 months?

46 What was the nature of the changes according to the respondents? First of all, the users say about a change in the space of the library: renovated interior (32%), new furniture (14%), more space (12%) or simply that the library is nicer (12%). Almost all of those answers more often are reported in relation to the libraries covered by the PRB program. Respondents notice more books (40%), but also new computers. Chart 10, What was the nature of the changes observed in your library?

The changes that users notice probably would not have happened or their scale would have been much smaller if not for a number of programs and projects/campaigns aimed at improving the situation of libraries. Among the most important are: ›› Library Development Program implemented by the Information Society Development Foundation, which since 2009 is trying to strengthen the capacity of public libraries in small towns. Through the program modern and active libraries help people participate fully in social and economic life, providing places of access to knowledge, information and education, as well as space for meetings and events involving the local community. Activities under the program include equipping libraries with computer hardware, a series of practical training for librarians, strengthening library environment and promotion of libraries. More on: programie/o _programie.

47 ›› Library Plus – a multi-annual program of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage, which has been prepared and implemented by the Book Institute. The strategic aim of it is to transform municipal libraries into modern centers of access to knowledge, as well as centers of culture and social life, and introducing a certification system for libraries. Under the program a MAK + catalog system is being created, training of librarians in the new competence is run, and a program of financial support for modernization and expansion of municipal libraries is also launched. More ›› Orange Academy for Libraries, which aims to support the development of information society by increasing access to new communications technologies and promote their use. Subsidies distributed under this program help to cover the annual cost of Internet access (on the basis of the agreement signed in August 2009 between the TP Group and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, Ministry of Interior and Administration and FRSI), and also to organize additional activities. More



The offer Librarians slowly are moving away from thinking about the library only as a place for reading (though it is still crucial for them), resulting in the fact that the institution they run provides its users with benefits not only related to reading books.

So they enrich the library offer by adding to it activities related to advanced technologies and social animation. They believe that through their activities they will attract new readers and encourage them to read books. With this additional offer the library becomes especially attractive to groups of people who are not "obvious" users of libraries and who are more difficult to be reached with the standard offer. Our library is trendy. It is clear that the identified benefits provided by the libraries People feel that coming are linked to the expanding library offer. The data show that the to the library and activity of libraries participating in the PRB has significantly borrowing books is a increased. These libraries more and more undertake diverse cool thing*. activities that are not only related to reading. With a rich list of different activities that can be run by libraries, only 10% of the libraries being a subject of this research indicated 5 and less, and more than half of the libraries organized in the last twelve months more than 10 different events. *Opinion of a librarian with a 30 year long library work experience

49 Chart 11, Percentage of libraries organizing various events in 2009 and 2012


* - In the year 2009 respondents were not asked separately about excursions organized for children and adults. For 2012, responses about excursions for children and adults were combined, ** - In 2009 respondents were not asked separately about courses and hobbyrelated activities. For 2012, responses about hobby-related activities and additional training courses were combined.

50 In comparison with 2009 we can notice an increased activity of libraries in almost all areas. Especially noticeable changes occurred in the organization of activities related to hobbies or interests and additional training courses for adults. A significant increase in the offer for adults can be explained in two ways. On the one hand it may indicate that the librarians have noticed that a group that so far rarely visited the library are the adults - and hence the initiative to prepare activities directed to them. On the other hand, it is possible that the respondents included courses for seniors into a group of courses for adults. Out of the libraries surveyed in 2009, this type of activities was organized by 18% of the libraries. In 2012, such courses were offered by as many as 63% of the libraries. Similarly large changes can be observed in the case of courses for preschool children. In 2009, only 26% of the libraries carried out activities of this type. In 2012, the percentage of libraries offering courses for preschool-aged children increased to 82%. The sharp increase in the offer for young children is a result of the programs implemented by the Komenski Foundation17. Smaller differences are visible in extracurricular activities for students. Previously, such activities were offered by about a quarter of the libraries and currently they are in the offer of about half of the libraries. You can also observe significant changes in the percentage of libraries that organize discussions about movies or books, as well as taking part in the picnics organized by the municipality. Directors of libraries in preparing a new offer have paid also an extra attention to the seniors and their needs. A good example here is the activity of one of the libraries, which initiated meetings of the senior I have created a little children's club, where about 40 people meet each month to talk, corner here and I have noticed that but also to spend time in a nice way – playing puns and it worked out, as before children did telling jokes. In the near future the director of the not want to come here at all, and library intends to organize for them a 4.5-month long now, when they see a toy car, they series of workshops under the banner "We connect just don’t want to leave this place generations", where a group of about 40 seniors and without the toy when their mothers children aged 12-15 years old would jointly take part in want to go home*. art, music and relaxation workshops. The director hopes that the presence of young people will help overcome resistance of the seniors involved in the *Opinion of a project. As the director says, the group of children will library worker be “hired from the art workshop”.


Inter alia, the project "Safe classes for kids and parents" run within PRB.


For two years, usually during the winter holidays, the library organizes the so-called bat night in the library, i.e. watching horror movies by children and adolescents. From evening until late night in the village hall children watch a few movies and then sleep together. Organization of this event is supported by the Village Council and its representatives play the role of the carers. The event usually starts at 8 p.m. Children gather in the hall, there are some integration activities and a dinner. And then blankets are spread on the floor and watching of horror movies starts.

The following scheme shows the relationship between the offer of libraries and the actions taken by them and their benefits. You can see that the actions implemented by libraries produce several benefits simultaneously. Arranging a film show is something more than just spending leisure time. It's also a chance to meet friends, meet new people, develop or acquire new interests. And conducting courses for small children translates into not only their greater socialization and the growth of their intellectual capital, but it also helps the mothers with dealing with their daily affairs - libraries are becoming places where you can leave your child in good care and gain some time for yourself.

Our library helped to organize an outdoor gym for the youth. Young people themselves came to the director, as no one wanted to help them and the director came up with an idea how the library could be associated with sports and how to create the gym in a neighboring village ... The very title of the campaign was quite emphatic: "Fit not only intellectually". We managed to find the arguments and the gym was created. As the director says: "It's nice that it came from me. This was their idea, and that so much sought to have it. It was a good idea that they came up to me with it. It was their idea and they very much wanted to have it. They knew that they could come to the library, share with their ideas and look for solutions together. They knew that no one would throw them out when they ask whether the library would not assist in arranging the gym". And so the library engaged itself into the gym project, but - according to the style of acting of the director - the young people themselves had to take care of all the arrangements, i.e. with the school, municipal and town authorities. The only problem was how to convince the funders that an outdoor gym serves the needs of the library. So the project was called "Fit not only intellectually" and it explains – going a bit round the thing but successfully - the relationship between the library and the gym. Thanks to the project the young people not only began going to the gym, but now they are beginning to appear in the library too.

Graph 1, Map of activities undertaken by libraries and their benefits


53 | Page


pace Libraries are changing also visually. They renovate their interior, paint the walls in colors. New features can be seen also in the equipment, such as footstools, pillows, children's furniture, electronic equipment, overhead projectors. Thanks to that the libraries begin to move away from the stereotype of a grim, silent and solemn place with a rigid discipline. The library atmosphere becomes friendly library and family-like and it is not without reason that the library is often referred to as a second home, a safe haven to which you can always come.

One of the libraries has been described by the researchers in these words: You do not walk here on the tiptoes. You can hear music being played here (though not too loud), from the media library room come sounds of boys playing computer games, and the door opens quite often which makes little wind bells hanging there ring. The interior is nice and, you can see the carpets on the floors and orange walls. It is like this everywhere with the exception of the children's corner – here you quickly notice colored stools, I come to the library to relax as well as cards, drawings and crayons left on a low yellow after work. I like to sit here, table. The shelves here are of children's size and on the walls drink tea. It’s such a nice place yellow wallpaper was put with little bears painted on it, for me, like home, very warm which clearly indicates what purpose this place is for. The one – these colors really shelves were hand-made by the director and it was him who attract me*. put the wallpaper on the wall. Housing conditions have been positively evaluated in 82% of the libraries. The evaluation of aesthetics and interior design in the PRB-covered libraries appears to be on the same level in 2012 and 2008. However, if we compare the results for the libraries not belonging to the PRB, we can notice a decrease of this element of as much as 9%. The aesthetics and interior design in 2008 seemed satisfactory to 84% of the users of PRB-covered libraries and to the same percentage of users of the libraries not covered by the Program. In the current assessment the percentage of satisfied users in the PRB-covered libraries remained at a similar level (81%), but in other libraries it decreased to 74%. Bearing in mind that libraries that participate in the program and others in most respects are very similar, it can be concluded that the PRB libraries managed to prevent a decline in the level satisfaction of their users with the aesthetics of the interior, which was not the case of other libraries. *Opinion of a resident and a frequent visitor in the library

Satisfaction with the library atmosphere can be seen in the data of the quantitative survey - 93% of the respondents rated it as positive. This satisfaction can be noticed also in associations that people have with the library. Such terms second home, fun, calm, pleasant atmosphere, the desire to return were often mentioned by the respondents during group interviews. It is clear that the library became a friendly and warm place. A place that we willingly visit and to which w would gladly come back.

54 | Page

55 | Page


eople The change in the libraries would not be possible if there have been no changes in people working in the libraries. Because it is them who decides on what the library is to look like. Librarians are becoming more open, independent and creative. They are more willing than in the past to undertake new challenges. They slowly get used to the idea that in order to have readers you must fight for them, and that books cannot be the only attraction of a library.

Library staff are one of the strongest resources of the library. The respondents of the quantitative study highly rated polite behavior of librarians (96% positive answers), competent staff (96%) and involvement of the librarians in their work (92%). Library staff can be seen as agents of the library change. Their role in the process can be perceived taking into account several dimensions: motivation to work and conduct activities, competencies (related to the provision of specific services, team working/team management, cooperation with partners/advocacy, planning and design/strategic thinking), openness to residents and their needs Ladies from the library used to as well as professional training and development. look like a hounded fox. Always Although the study did not aim to examine the change that earned little and lacked money to occurred in the approach of librarians to their work and the role to buy or do something, renovate be played by the library, still in conversations with the users some house (...) And now they believe in comments spontaneously appeared showing that people saw a themselves! It’s such an incredibly revolution in the organization of work in the library and in the valuable asset*. approach of the staff to the role to be played by the library in local communities. *Opinion of a reader who

It appears that the library staff - despite the fact that still the most just loves to read. She has important for them is the book and the main goal which they seek several thousand books at is an increase in readership - are no longer afraid to introduce new home but she still often comes to the library elements to the library offer, they are no longer reluctant to actions, which are not always directly related to the books. It seems that librarians started to treat other actions (such as computer The ladies understood that they classes, children's corner, etc.) as a good way to attract people to the must be active in order to, partly at library and encourage them to become the readers. Librarians can least, justify their existence. They encourage to reading those who came to the library with a completely understood that in today’s world different purpose. So we can see the changes in motivation to work, nothing is certain and it’s no longer as well as in willingness to take new actions and activities. certain that the library will be here The changes which occurred in the management of teams and the forever in the current shape*. principles related to the cooperation are well-presented by the researchers describing one of the libraries: *Opinion of a village head

As she pointed out, the team is very important to her and actually you can see that the workers are integrated, they can work together. The account shows that this is the main merit of the program - the director has repeatedly mentioned that the biggest benefit of joining the PRB was the possibility of joint trips to the Library Congress in Warsaw (the whole team went there) and to take part in the training.

56 | Page

Thanks to that, after many years of cooperation, they managed to create a really great team of employees who believe in the animation function of the library, which is no longer a director's whim, but a standard element of actions. You do not need to persuade them to take extracurricular activities, they themselves started to come up with their own initiatives. The team, in addition to those who take care of various reading rooms and lending books (four people), there is also a fulltime employed computer scientist, who, in addition to performing current IT services in the library, conducts computer classes for seniors. Studies also show the changes in the computer competence of library staff. Clearly the percentage of libraries, where workers are able to help you set up a website or a blog has increased. As the data show, computer and Internet skills of library staff are constantly growing. Helping the users with basic offline tasks, such as writing, as well as online ones, like creating a profile on a social network, has never been a problem for most libraries. Now even more complex tasks, requiring greater level of IT skills, more and more often are not a problem – a significant increase has been observed among the library staff in their competence in the use of spreadsheets as well as websites and blogs. A percentage of libraries capable of helping their users to set up a website or blog clearly increased too. Chart 12, Percentage of libraries, the workers of which were able to help the users to‌

57 | Page


ctions Clearly visible are big changes in organization of work and functioning of small libraries. You can see a clear increase in the budgets of libraries, although libraries still do not actively raise funds, do not undertake on a large scale attempts to write proposals, projects and raise funds from other sources. Libraries are increasingly more eager to acquire new partners. In recent years they more and more willingly co-operate with senior clubs, rural housewives meetings and volunteer fire brigades. Also noteworthy is here the increase in the number/percentage of the libraries cooperating with the local press. More than half of the libraries also use the help of volunteers. That's a lot, but it could be even more.

Almost all libraries that responded to the question about sources of funding, reported receiving subsidies to purchase new books from the Ministry of Culture and the organizer. The vast majority of libraries have also received support from the Orange Foundation. Libraries still do not actively raise funds, do not take on a large scale attempts to write proposals, projects and raise funds from other sources. We cannot talk about diversifying sources of income and the emergence of significant sources of money. Encouragement of libraries and persuading them to actively seek money still remains a challenge18. Among the institutions with which libraries co-operate, the respondents most often indicated schools - almost all the libraries co-operate with them - 96%. A little less often libraries collaborate with kindergartens - 86%. Much of the libraries also collaborated with local parishes, town centers of culture and the local press - respectively 70% and 64% of all libraries. From other institutions and organizations the libraries co-operated significantly less often - usually about 30% -35%. The smallest number of libraries cooperated with the Tax Office - only 5% of the surveyed libraries.


More details in Tomasz Zając’s report „Biblioteki po PRB oczami dyrektorów” (Post-PRB libraries as viewed by their directors)..

58 | Page

Chart 13, Library partners

There has been a clear increase in the percentage of libraries cooperating with communal social assistance centers, rural housewives clubs, volunteer fire brigades, senior citizens’ clubs and parishes. More than half of the libraries co-operate with local NGOs. Most often the partners of the libraries are NGOs supporting local development. Less often the respondents indicated organizations operating in the area of culture, older citizens and supporting people with disabilities. The help of volunteers is used by half of the libraries. So we can say that the percentage of volunteers engaging themselves in the library work is high. By working with volunteers library receive support for their employees; volunteers relieve librarians in their work, but first of all bring new ideas, energy and freshness to the facility. The help of volunteers is less often used by libraries from rural than from urban or town-rural municipalities, although it seems that there is a greater need for volunteers in smaller, rural libraries, but the practice of engaging volunteers is not as yet widespread in these areas, and sometimes the librarians in such areas are not even aware that such solutions can be available.

59 | Page







Let's start with the obvious – the libraries are important, because reading books and the access to them are important. Not everything can be found on the Internet yet, and still not all use the net as of now. There is also an ever presence material value of the book itself its weight, smell, physical nature, tangibility, countability, etc.

Not everyone can afford to have all the books he would like to read, or those which they sometimes have to read. However, even if it were so, a book from the library has a different value consisting precisely in the fact that it is common in the literal sense, and each such book carries the traces (sometimes annoying) of the hands of its previous readers. In a world that surrounds us it is for many people one of the few tangible "proofs of the existence" of the things in common. No less important and (unfortunately) no less rare is here the experience and training of the reader into an agreed way of making the things in common "circulate" - the rules of doing this and respecting common good. This flow: the fact that I'm waiting for the book from YOU, and YOU wait for the book from ME creates the basic form of "social conjugation". And we do not have too many opportunities to exercise it. The library is also a special place - more than just a warehouse of books. In the late 80's a notion of the "third place" started to be used in urban sociology, meaning the territory that is neither home nor workplace (a lot of parallels can be found in the concept of the third sector). The existence of such a space is (and rightly) considered to be one of the most important conditions (even necessary ones) to create a social community. Such functions can be played by many places (parks, coffee shops, playing fields, local shops, parishes and even - though this is rather an evidence of their deficit – bus stops or gas stations). A special place in this respect is the library, which, especially in smaller towns and villages, is a kind of oasis of public space. Very instructive in this regard is, for example, the role of libraries in the United States, where for many years the libraries provided a space for local assemblies and constituted sort of a setting for the functioning of some kind of local agora. The library, or rather libraries, are so important because they create a dense and everywherereaching network of institutions. They are a natural part of the local landscape. Working with them creates a giant (in the Polish conditions) "rent of diversity". All good (but also all bad) ideas can be "multiplied" in the hundreds and thousands – which is a great opportunity but also a great responsibility. Libraries, which at the present time often try to be something more than they used to be, are a huge "splitter". It is worthwhile to take advantage of this opportunity. Kuba Wygnański Chairman of the Unit for Social Innovation and Research – Shipyard

60 | Page



The study was prepared by a team of the Unit for Social Innovation and Research – Shipyard, composed of: 

Anna Giza-Poleszczuk, Ph.D. – technical supervision

Cezary Trutkowski, Ph.D. – critical friend of the project

Łucja Krzyżanowska – coordination and preparing of the final report

Katarzyna Julia Olesińska – coordination and preparing of the final report

Hubert Borowski – author of reports on two quantitative studies titled “What we do in libraries and what we gain by it” and “What we use computers for and what are the benefits of it”

Tomasz Zając – author of the report on quantitative study titled “Biblioteki po PRB w oczach dyrektorów” (Post-PRB libraries as viewed by their directors)

Field research was performed by a team of qualitative researchers cooperating with the Unit for Social Innovation and Research – Shipyard

REPORT: Why Poles need libraries?  

Report on the three year experience of the Library Development Program. Since March 2012 a study was conducted, focused on the type of benef...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you