The Global Libraries - Bulgaria Foundation continues the ideas and mission of the Glob@l Libraries - Bulgaria Programme, a joint initiative of the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture, the United Nations Development Programme, the Bulgarian Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications, the National Association of Municipalities in Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Library and Information Association supported by a USD 15 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Glob@l Libraries - Bulgaria is designed to facilitate access to information, knowledge, communication, e-contents and community services through Bulgaria's public libraries network. Within five years (2009-2013), the program increased library usage throughout the country and helped Bulgarian citizens integrate into the global information society. Public libraries working under the program are still expanding their reach and activities, becoming more attractive places for visitors and playing an increasingly important local development role. The program supported fund-raising and advocacy to help public libraries gain recognition as agents of change and knowledge resource centers.
Glob@l Libraries - Bulgaria relies on the joint efforts of central government, the local authorities and the non-governmental sector for successful implementation and sustained results.
The indicative total program budget is USD 48 million, which includes the foundation grant, a USD 18 million software donation from Microsoft Corp., and a matching contribution of USD 15 million from central and local government agencies.
Glob@l Libraries - Bulgaria ensures free information and communications technology (ICT) equipment and Internet use for the public in 960 public libraries in towns and villages across the country. Over 3,000 library workers from 1,600+ libraries were trained in IT skills, provision of modern library services and library management. The program had a balanced geographic spread to help bridge the socio-economic disparities within and between regions in Bulgaria.
As a result of the combined efforts of local communities and the key program partners, the program helped modernize Bulgaria's public libraries and established in the public space the image of the new library - one that provides an innovative package of services including computers and access to the Internet for users, on-line information, local e-content, computer and information literacy training for library visitors, implementation of community projects, space for community work and events, response to specific user needs (children, unemployed people, entrepreneurs); as well as a welcoming environment and client-oriented librarians.
The full support through foundation funding for a target of 960 libraries includes: ICT equipment for visitors, a comprehensive training program for library staff, and participation of the library in advocacy, networking, public relations and promotion activities. The software needed for the ICT equipment is donated by Microsoft.
The Global Libraries Initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is working to open the world of knowledge, information, and opportunity to many more people. Part of the Global Development Program, Global Libraries works with select countries that demonstrate a need and a readiness to help public libraries provide free access to computers and the Internet, and training on how to make full use of these tools. Microsoft is a partner of Global Libraries and donates software to partners who request it. The initiative is working to transform public libraries into vital resources that can help improve the lives of millions of people.