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Two of the nine countries, which are in the process of implementing a Global Libraries country grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will participate in the Leaders and Innovators Training Program, which will take place in the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs. This program is supported by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Participating librarians will have the opportunity to study the best practices of leading public libraries as well as policies, services, and funding sources needed to fully support a library system that is responsive to the needs of the community and proactive in addressing the information needs of its users. The training will be customized according to the national specifics and profile of the participants and will focus on providing relevant library services in times of great changes, such as the rapid expansion of information and communication technology.

In December 2009 the Glob@l Libraries - Bulgaria team started working intensively on the preparation of the Bulgarian application and coordination with the Bulgarian Library and Information Association. The application package should be submitted by January 29, 2010 and will be followed by a telephone interview during 1-5 February, 2010.

If Bulgaria is selected as a grantee, representatives of the Mortenson Center will visit the country to get acquainted with the country specifics and discuss how participants can expand the impact of public libraries and their ability to provide innovative services to the public. Through these discussions with the national team of the Glob@l Libraries initiative and the other library stakeholders the needs of the Bulgarian librarians will be defined and a training curriculum will be developed.

If selected as a grantee, Glob@l Libraries - Bulgaria will nominate a group of 12 to 15 individuals to represent the Bulgarian library community in the training program. The Mortenson Center staff, in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will make the final participant selection.

The selected participants will undergo a three-week training program in the Morteson Center of the University of Illinois in United States, followed by a week-long visit to another country with innovative libraries (most likely in the same geographic region as the selected GL country). The Mortenson Center will provide interpreters during the training program therefore English language capacity or other foreign language capacity is not a requirement for participation in the program.

Having completed the training, the participants will be asked to develop a project that will have a positive impact on the public libraries. This project will be implemented within one year of the return of the participants to their home country with the assistance of national GL grantee teams and Mortenson Center experts. Participants will be eligible to apply for small grants to support the implementation of the projects. More information about the grants will be provided once the countries are selected.

Through January 2010 the team of Glob@l Libraries - Bulgaria will work actively to prepare the Bulgarian application. Discussions will be held with the 28 district coordinators of the Bulgarian program, the Bulgarian Library and Information Association as well as with other partners of the program.

Let's hope that the New Year 2010 will bring us success with this initiative!