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Napredak 1895 Public Chitalishte in the Town of Radomir: a Success Story

Читалището в Радомир

There is an active person or group of people behind every success story. People who are not afraid of change. People in search of novelties and willing to experiment.   

Behind the successful work of Napredak 1895 Public Chitalishte in Radomir, there is a team which enjoys new technology and works actively to enhance the knowledge and active participation of the local community.  

The town of Radomir is situated in the Radomir valley, in the foot of the Golo Bardo Mountain. It was a medieval town built above a prehistoric ancient settlement and necropolis. Its population has demonstrated an active public and national spirit over the centuries. Today, Radomir is a modern town with its own face, economic infrastructure, natural landmarks and cultural institutes.

One of these cultural institutes is Napredak Public Chitalishte established in 1895. The chitalishte is equipped with an internet center created in 2002 under the Chitalishte Project. In 2010, the library at the chitalishte received computers and peripherals under the Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program (ICT Package 2). A training facility for librarians and citizens was established in the library.  
“The new equipment posed the big question: what shall we do with it and where shall we focus our efforts in order to be useful and ensure maximum usage of the new computers? We did not feel like providing computer access mainly for entertainment purposes.” (Nelly Petkova, Chief Librarian)
The town’s population is 14,494 people, of whom 1,397 school goers living and studying in the town and 4,116 people aged 55+. The majority of the adult and the elderly population have never used computers or known how to work with them and the internet. People aged 55+ experience a strong need to learn about new methods of communication. The internet access enables them to feel connected to their families and friends who do not live in the small town, receive and provide information. 
“We decided to launch computer literacy courses for people aged 55+. We announced them through broad promotion in local and regional press and electronic media. In just one week, 45 people enrolled. On 9 January 2012, three groups started their classes”.

What did we achieve?

  1. People overcame their fear of accessing technology.
  2. We managed to motivate them to continue learning after the end of the training by receiving day-to-day consultancy and assistance from librarians.
  3. We taught them basic internet usage skills: they created e-mail and Skype accounts; we printed the addresses of the most popular websites where they can search information, etc.

“This training changed my life…although I did not expect such a thing since I am more than 60 years old. I am glad that the library is so active and persistent in organizing various events. I also enrolled in the women’s club “Let’s Cross Together”. We gather once a week, several women, all of us already trained in basic computer skills within the training for readers. We sit in front of the computers and search for new gobelin tapestry models, information about other women’s clubs and discuss new events; for example, in May, we will organize a “Gobelins and Flowers” exhibition. The library is a spiritual place where we, the kindred souls, can gather and discuss nice things.” (Emilia, training participant, 63 years old)
On 30 January 2012, the library continued its successful work by launching three new computer training courses for readers. There are more people willing to take part. The trainings for people aged 55+ will continue in the autumn and the library’s team feels inspired by its accomplishments and is ready to implement new ideas.