On 26 April 2012, a district thematic meeting jointly organized by the Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program and Dora Gabe District Library in Dobrich took place in Dobrich. The library forum was held in the Park Hotel Izida’s conference room.
The topic of the meeting was “New Modern Library Service and Initiatives” and its purpose was to discuss questions posed by the challenges facing contemporary libraries.
The meeting was attended by 60 participants, among whom librarians from all target libraries located in Dobrich district, representatives of local authorities (municipality, district governor’s office), education institutions, partners. The Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program Management Unit was represented by the Regional Managers Nikolay Markov and Krasimir Hristov.
The event was also attended by Mr. Todor Georgiev, Deputy District Governor, and Ms. Detelina Nikolova, Mayor of Dobrich, who welcomed all participants by saying: “The involvement of libraries from Dobrich district in the Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program is important both for their development and for the local communities. This program facilitates the access to information, knowledge, communication, e-content and services and enables citizens to become part of the global information society. We are satisfied that our public libraries expand their scope and activities, become more attractive and establish themselves as centers of change and knowledge.”
The district thematic meeting was opened by Penka Hristova, Director of Dora Gabe District Library and GLB District Coordinator for Dobrich district. She welcomed the participants and presented the reasons for the organization of the event and the expected results. She shared her opinion that the adoption of modern innovative library services, targeted at the needs of various groups of users and communities, requires an analysis of provided library services and a discussion on their expansion. Penka Hristova stated her confidence that the work meeting will provoke ideas and opinions on the adoption of innovations in pursuance of the successful library model and its establishment as an institution, which could change people’s lives in local communities.
The topics discussed at the meeting presented different viewpoints on the new services that public libraries can provide to their users.
Nikolay Markov, Regional Manager at the Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program Management Unit, presented Global Libraries Program Innovative Service Practices from Other Countries. The presentation showed the experience of other libraries from different countries and allowed participants to compare it to the activities and services they offer in their libraries. Nikolay Markov shared his confidence that Bulgarian libraries work actively and strive for an improved level of services and service expansion for local communities.
Zhivka Nenova from Dora Gabe District Library in Dobrich delivered the presentation Innovative ICT Based Library Services. She started the presentation by defining the concept “innovation” and the different types of innovations. Library innovations were discussed as a successful adoption of something new and helpful, for example: a new process, method, practice, technique, product or service. The question “What is an innovative service?” was answered. Next, the presentation focused on the use of ICT in libraries and the innovative library services (ICT based and e-services). The new audience of users demanding a 24/7 remote servicing brings about renovation and development of virtual reference services. Next, the experience of Dora Gabe District Library was presented and the innovative services provided by the library with the support of the ICT equipment delivered under the Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program were highlighted: access to the internet, e-mail, Skype, computer literacy training of citizens, “Ask the Librarian” virtual reference service, etc. The library website and online forms for various services were demonstrated. In conclusion, some ideas on new library services, new partnerships and outreach to different target groups were proposed.
Galya Marinova from Dora Gabe District Library in Dobrich talked about libraries in support of education and lifelong learning. She referred to the IFLA guidelines for public libraries and European Commission directives as specified in Europe 2020 Strategy for intelligent growth by establishing a knowledge based and innovation based economy. She also presented the goals and objectives of public libraries in support of formal and informal education, self-education at all levels, and the steps that need to be followed for effective inclusion in the global process of individual and community development. Galya Marinova pointed out the different groups of library users and the types of services applicable in today’s library conditions and shared the extensive experience of Dora Gabe District Library in supporting education and lifelong learning of citizens from Dobrich and the district. A special focus was placed on effective cooperation methods and opportunities for public libraries to develop innovative services in partnerships with other institutions and organizations. The speaker highlighted that the district library’s involvement in the Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program allowed its establishment as a training center both for librarians from Dobrich district and for all library users.
Maria Nesheva from Dora Gabe District Library in Dobrich presented different methods for Identification of Target Groups and Library Services. She highlighted the need of providing an equal access to library services regardless of age, race, gender, religion, nationality, language or social status and presented to participants some elements of effective library services through key services provided by modern public libraries. The presentation wrapped up with user policies targeted at achieving a positive effect and improvement of community life as a whole.
The meeting agenda included an interactive game called “A World Café”. It aimed to provoke among participants, in an entertaining and enjoyable manner, innovative and creative thinking and ideas about specific new services to be implemented by libraries.
The workgroup provoked particular interest among participants whose task was to focus on important questions on library services. Each group was given different materials – paper, markers, a paper napkin, a coffee cup mat, coffee beans, candies, stickers, etc. and scribbling on the tablecloths was allowed. Participants introduced themselves by sharing the three things about them they find most important.
The group discussions enabled participants to develop their own ideas and views on new modern library services, share experience and look for opportunities for adoption of applicable new services for the benefit of communities. They played, painted, drew, showed creativity, had fun and united around an idea of a new service which they visualized on a sheet of paper. In addition, each group had to offer methods for presentation of the new service before readers and the public.
After the game, each group presented their idea before the audience.
Ideas about new services that participants find applicable in a modern library were created as follows:
In view of new library service promotion, participants highlighted the idea of using advertising T-shirts with the quote: “I love the library because it loves me back”.
During the work session, all participants took an active part and showed commitment. Despite the little time they had, they were successful in developing and presenting diverse and interesting ideas about new modern library service provision to be further developed and proposed for implementation until end-May. The event grew into a place for discussions and design of creative plans on innovative service provision to readers. The “World Café” format provoked the creation of resourceful solutions originated by library representatives – the people who face library work challenges on a daily basis.
At the end of the meeting, all participants filled in feedback questionnaires showing that participants are satisfied to a high degree with the conducted meeting. The choice of topic, its usefulness for future activities and the delivered presentations were highly evaluated.
The workgroup and the generated new ideas, the opportunity for exchange of opinions on new library services, the shared good practices are among the most “helpful things” learned and indicated by participants.
The conclusions from such work forums are that they are useful and effective. They are valuable to both librarians and all library service users.