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Regional Meeting “e-Employment and e-Education at the Library” in the Village of Chavdar, Sofia District

On 8 July 2013, the village of Chavdar, Sofia district, hosted a work meeting on the topic “e-Employment and e-Education at the Library”. Meeting participants included 60 library specialists, partners and guests from the city of Sofia and Sofia district. 
The meeting was opened by Ms. Galina Tomova, Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program District Coordinator for Sofia district. Ms. Tomova presented the purpose and agenda of the meeting and placed a special focus on the importance of the new e-services: e-employment and e-education provided by libraries to meet local communities’ information needs by using online based resources. She highlighted that by using actively the ICT equipment provided under the Global Libraries – Bulgaria Program librarians provide information about job vacancies; consultations and assistance to job seekers; organize training for unemployed people; implement e-education initiatives for their users of any age.
Ms. Tomova presented the official guests of the meeting: Mr. Pencho Gerov, Mayor of Chavdar Municipality, municipal administration employees and municipal council members; Mr. Petar Zahariev, Chief Inspector at the NRA in Sofia district, Mr. Dimitar Neshkov, Chair of Nadezhda 1900 Public Chitalishte in the village of Chavdar.
The Mayor of Chavdar Pencho Gerov delivered a welcome address to meeting participants. He thanked for the opportunity to host the event and talked briefly about the history of the village. He also proudly presented the achievements made over the last years and the transformation of the village into a cozy and good place for living. In his words, the success achieved by the municipality is due to the united and efficient team of employees. A welcome address was also delivered by Dimitar Neshkov, Chair of Nadezhda Chitalishte. He thanked for the provided opportunity and wished participants successful and fruitful work.

The first meeting session started with a presentation by Petar Zahariev, Chief Inspector at the NRA, on the activities of the NRA in Sofia district. He talked about the major initiatives of the NRA reaching to the general public with the support of the Ministry of Education and the Global Libraries Program. He highlighted two of the most important initiatives: the first one targeted at school age youth and aiming to clarify some basics of the taxation system affecting this particular group of citizens; the second initiative aims to inform the public about the implementation of tax and insurance legislation. According to Mr. Zahariev, the initiatives are linked to both meetings on the topic with young people and school goers and specialized meetings with accountants locally. Mr. Zahariev also provided information materials and was ready to answer participants’ questions.   
A representative of the Labor Office in the town of Pirdop presented to meeting participants the activities of the Employment Agency and its structures and the opportunities for e-services that libraries could provide to their unemployed users.   
The meeting included presentations on e-services and opportunities for e-services provided by the local libraries in the Sredna Gora region. The presentation on the topic “e-Education for Adults: a Chance and New Opportunities” delivered by Zaharinka Bodurova, Librarian at Napredak 1869 Public Chitalishte in Pirdop, stirred great interest.
The discussion on the topics of e-employment and e-education at the library stimulated participants to share success stories from their daily work on the provision of these services. This discussion provided a good start for the second meeting session moderated by Galina Rasheeva, GLB District Coordinator for the city of Sofia, and including two presentations on e-employment and e-education.
Antoaneta Stoichkova, Librarian at Svetlina Kremikovtsi 1906 Public Chitalishte in Sofia, presented some very helpful information about the “e-Education Services at the Libraries in Kremikovtsi Region: New Opportunities and Goals” focusing on daily library activities.
Meeting participants were very pleased with the opportunity to receive information about “The Experience in the Provision of Innovative e-Employment Library Services” of Hristo Smirnenski 1889 Public Chitalishte in the town of Zlatitsa. The presentation was delivered by Chief Librarian Dimitar Ovcharov who shared some particularly valuable for librarians practical advice on the provision of the e-employment library service.
During the last meeting session, participants were organized into workshops and divided into four groups by Emilia Atanasova, Chief Librarian at Sluntse 1879 Public Chitalishte in the town of Ihtiman.
Two of the groups developed ideas for new e-employment services. Their presentation within the big group and the subsequent discussion led to new ideas on joint activities with the Labor Offices locally. One of the groups presented the opportunities provided by the Employment Agency to chitalishte and libraries as potential employers.
The other two groups developed ideas for new e-education services and also identified a new idea which will make the work of librarians in small settlements easier: the idea includes that the district library organizes webinars with representatives of the Social Assistance Agency who will train users in filling in social assistance documents and the libraries from the respective region will invite users and with the help of the ICT equipment provided by the Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program the information will reach to the inhabitants of the smallest villages.
At the end of the meeting, all participants filled in feedback forms. The analysis of feedback forms shows that the meeting was helpful and its topics were current and applicable to librarians’ daily work. Some colleagues share the opinion that this type of meetings is particularly important and valuable to them. The key recommendation is to make them two-day meetings. The most useful things about the meeting include the exchange of experience, group work activities and the presence of partners.

All participants’ expectations relate to the extension of the program over the years to come.