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"Libraries with Future" National Forum

The Glob@l Libraries - Bulgaria Program (GLB) organized the "Libraries with Future" National Forum which was held on 4 December 2013 in Sofia.
The forum presented the results achieved during GLB, as well as the proposed development of the GLB initiative post-grant.
Representatives of national and local governments, the library community, chitalishte and partner entities discussed the role of public libraries in the process of digital inclusion, social integration and providing equal access to information to everyone. Other focal items were the potential of public libraries to actively participate in carrying out sector policies and the achieving of Bulgaria's national goals under the Europe 2020 strategy in employment, education and social inclusion.
The forum was also attended by representatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other countries where the Global Libraries (GL) initiative is implemented.

Trendafil Meretev, GLB Program Manager, opened the forum. The event was initiated with official greetings to the program team and Bulgarian libraries by the official guests: Petar Stoyanovich, Bulgarian minister of culture; Melissa Pailthorp, Senior Program Officer at BMGF; Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, Counselor for Public Affairs at the Embassy of the United States in Bulgaria; and Maria Zlatareva, head of the UNDP office in Bulgaria.

The event continued with a presentation of the results achieved by GLB over the past four years. They became clear after the final impact assessment study carried out by the ESTAT sociological agency. The presentation appealed to the audience's hearts and minds alike, starting with a fun video showing the effect of the program, followed by the details of the effect and the numbers that testify for them.

After the presentation by the ESTAT representative Yana Spasova, a discussion between representatives of various entities working with libraries was held. They talked about their views on libraries' future. Vasil Vasilev, deputy minister of culture, Stoyan Tsonev, director of the "Structural Funds and International Educational Programs" Directorate in the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science, Donka Mihaylova, mayor of Troyan municipality, Gencho Genchev, mayor of Tsarevets village, Prof. Stoyan Denchev, dean of the Bulgarian Iniversity for library science, Prof. Anastas Gerdzhikov, deputy chairman of the National Union of Bulgarian Chitalishte management board and Spaska Tarandova, deputy director of the Sofia City Library took part in the discussion.

The second part of the forum was dedicated to librarians who presented successful projects implemented under the GLB small grants programme. The following projects were presented:

Integration through Information and Communication Technology (ICT) - the Library Supports Children with Special Educational Needs
presented by Sofia Peycheva, Director of "Emanuil Popdimitrov" District Library (DL), Kyustendil

Supporting Social Inclusion and Communication by Facilitating the Access of Hearing Impaired People to the Electronic Resources and Services of Ivan Vazov District Public Library - Plovdiv
presented by:
Ekaterina Polyakova, librarian in "Ivan Vazov" National Library, Plovdiv
Mariana Nikolova, "Humanitarian Initiatives for Partnership Development in Bulgaria", Plovdiv, project partner

Virtual Medical School
presented by Tsetsa Krasteva, secretary librarian, Probuda 126“ Chitalishte, Zgorigrad village, Vratsa District

Financial Services in Modern Libraries
presented by Valentina Karadzhova, Lyuben Karavelov District Library, Ruse

Tradition Online
presented by Anelia Mladenova, secretary, “St. P. Hilendarski – 1926” chitalishte library in the village of Inovo, Vidin District
Project description
Project visualization

Improving the Knowledge and Skills of Mayors and Technical Assistants from Mayors’ Offices in Samokov Municipality
presented by Albena Ihtimanska, Paisii Hilendarski Municipal Library, Samokov

Citizens of Provadia – Informed, Motivated and Able on the Labor Market
Eng. Georgi Petrov, “Modern Chitalishte” Association, Sofia, project partner

The forum also saw presentations from Romania and Turkey - two countries where GL is implemented as well as in Bulgaria. Scott Andersen, deputy manager of the Biblionet Romania program, talked about the program's achievements over its implementation period.

Ahmet Çelik, Advocacy Expert in the GL Turkey program, told the forum attendees how the pilot phase's initiation was prepared.

As conclusion, the newly established Global Libraries - Bulgaria Foundation was presented. Forum participants discussed the foundation's future and ways in which Bulgarian public libraries and the new entity can continue and build upon the results achieved under the GLB program.

The forum was broadcasted live online. A recording (in Bulgarian language) can be watched below.