Mihalaki Georgiev District Library in Vidin hosted a regional development district meeting on the topic “E-services and Partnerships in Support of the Local Community”. One of the main purposes of the meeting was to share ideas and experience for improving services and opportunities provided by libraries to make sure they meet users’ information needs as adequately as possible. Forum participants included 31 representatives of the 27 target libraries in Vidin district, local authorities, the Labor Office Directorate in Vidin and the National Revenue Agency in Vidin.
The meeting was opened by Desislava Ivanova, Director of Mihalaki Georgiev District Library in Vidin, who presented the official guests to the event. In her opening speech, Desislava Ivanova talked about the importance of modern libraries in the community, the need of adopting innovative services meeting adequately modern users’ requirements and highlighted librarians’ role for establishing partnerships through which libraries can become modern information centers.
The first meeting session included three presentations and two lectures. The actual forum started with a presentation on the topic “Partnerships in the Development and Provision of E-services” delivered by Desislava Ivanova and Gergana Panova from Mihalaki Georgiev District Library in Vidin. Next, Lidia Vekova, Librarian at the district library, delivered a lecture on e-services currently provided at the library. Milcho Tsokov, Head of Intermediary Services Department of the LOD in Vidin, delivered a comprehensive presentation on the topic “E-services of the Employment Agency”. The meeting continued with a presentation prepared by Milena Borisova, Chief Expert at the Analyses and Planning Department of the NRA territorial unit in Vidin, on the topic “E-services and Electronic Data Exchange”. Tatiana Lyubenova, Librarian at the chitalishte library in the village of Kutovo, presented the ICT based services provided by the library to the people in the local community. The first forum session ended with a lecture by Tsvetelina Markova, Librarian at the chitalishte library in the town of Kula, on the activities and importance of the library.
The second forum session included workshops for ideas. Participants were divided in groups and developed innovative partnership based e-services in the areas of e-employment and e-government. Representatives of each group presented the summarized ideas on the identified topics. An informal discussion with participants from the two groups took place. They elaborated on their ideas and discussed opportunities for their practical implementation. The group working on the e-employment topic, in order to be as useful as possible to unemployed people in their community, united around the idea of designing separate sections in libraries’ websites to include various materials and articles on concrete solutions to potential challenges to unemployed people in the job search process, links to the Employment Agency website. Group members agreed that the websites should offer an online communication option through which librarians will be able to help users who find it difficult to design a CV or a motivation letter. Participants also discussed the idea of organizing webinars for job seekers where Labor Office Directorate specialists will provide consultations and answer different questions on finding jobs, career development, retraining opportunities, etc.
The second group worked on the e-health service and united around the idea of designing an e-health map with information about health institutions and practitioners in the municipalities and producing various health prevention aids.
The e-government topic was discussed. The option of creating a web portal of several chitalishte libraries was also part of their work. This portal, in a separate section, will feature links to the e-services provided by the municipalities where the libraries are located. The participants in this group considered the option of creating auxiliary lists of links that could facilitate the access to e-government services.
Librarians participating in both groups also focused on the opportunities for potential partnerships that could make their ideas possible.
Based on the analysis of the 20 filled in feedback forms, we can conclude that the regional development meeting held in Vidin was successful. 100% of respondents think that the meeting topic was current and would be helpful in their future work; delivered presentations corresponded to the topic; the duration of the meeting was well planned; they were satisfied with meeting organization and conditions. 100% of respondents answered the question “What is your general satisfaction with the meeting?” with “completely satisfied”. The most useful things related to the meeting identified by meeting participants that they would use in their future activities include: good practices from other libraries, using the Employment Agency website effectively in support of unemployed people, new ideas of e-services, opportunities provided by the NRA website, designing auxiliary materials with links. Participants did not identify any flaws of the meeting and in the comments, opinions and recommendations section they expressed gratitude for the invitation and expectations that such meetings for exchange of experience and ideas will continue to be organized.