On 30 May 2012, a regional thematic meeting organized jointly with the Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program took place at Petko R. Slaveykov District Library in Veliko Tarnovo. The meeting topic “The Modern Glob@l Library: New Opportunities” focused on innovation in target library activities and its effect on local communities.
Meeting participants included 100 library specialists from target libraries in Veliko Tarnovo district, representatives of local authorities, cultural institutions, education establishments, associations and NGOs with which the libraries in the district have established successful partnerships. The Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program Management Unit was represented by the Regional Managers Nikolay Markov and Krasimira Kaneva.
The district thematic meeting was opened by Ivan Alexandrov, Director of Petko Rachev Slaveykov District Library and GLB District Coordinator for Veliko Tarnovo district. In his welcome address, Mr. Alexandrov shared that the Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program has set the model of working for transforming libraries into modern information centers where books correspond successfully to modern information technology. The interest of municipalities and local mayor’s administrations was actively mobilized and they participated with financial support for technical equipment and adaptation of premises. He also expressed his confidence that the sustainability of the program is about looking for opportunities and creating optimal conditions for libraries to be attractive places for the general readers’ public by implementing the “Libraries without Borders” mission – a portal to knowledge and center of attraction for people with diverse interests. The program has provided the opportunity and the challenge for librarians even in the smallest public libraries to utilize actively, together with readers, modern information and communication technology.
The event was also attended by the Deputy Mayor of Veliko Tarnovo Municipality Mr. Gancho Karabadzhakov who said: “Today’s world communicates new messages and new challenges to all of us: to create proper conditions for modernizing and streamlining library processes. This mission of ours demands that we take active part in good European practices and implement the stages of the Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program. Enhancing librarians’ competence and responding to readers’ demands are our common cause and I believe that our joint efforts will be instrumental for the successful implementation of the program”.
Nikolay Markov, Regional Manager at the Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program Management Unit, highlighted four factors for the accomplishment and implementation of the “modern glob@l library” concept: i) avenues for influencing local authorities; ii) active library advocacy campaigns; iii) media outreach; iv) success stories of Bulgaria’s global library.
In partnership with local media, professors and students of journalism at Sts. Cyril and Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo created documentaries on program activities and benefits for the public. Highlights of glob@l library activities featured in the documentaries include:
Thematic meeting participants included Dr. Angel Manchev, professor at St. Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, and Diana Boycheva who presented opportunities for free-of-charge acquisition of e-books. Eng. Snezhana Hinova, manager of the company which provided technical assistance to libraries, elucidated the issue of e-book readers.
The Chief Secretary of the Regional Public Health Inspectorate Eng. Violina Eneva presented the opportunities for provision of electronic administrative health services through the library network.
Group-work activities attracted the active attention of participants who were assigned the task of focusing on important issues related to library services. Participants were divided into four groups – three of them focused on developing new library services and the fourth group worked on advocacy. The group work aimed to provoke participants’ innovative and creative thinking and ideas, in an entertaining and enjoyable manner, to be used as a foundation for specific new services that librarians and their libraries can provide.
Target groups and new services identified as a result of work group include as follows:
The group that worked on library advocacy proposed an interesting idea for an advocacy campaign – The Library in a New Building. The campaign idea and target groups – policymakers, were clearly identified. Partners in the accomplishment of this objective include government and local authorities, business, NGOs, media, cultural institutions and many others. The effect: a modern library providing access to all types of users; new and diverse services; improved quality of life in the local community.
The group work showed that the library is a valuable partner for various target groups and has the necessary capacity to respond to citizens’ needs.
Each target library committed to launching the active provision of one service (according to the specific features of the respective settlement). Petko R. Slaveykov District Library in Veliko Tarnovo undertook the task of monitoring and assisting the adoption of the new services.
At the end of the meeting, all participants filled in feedback questionnaires. Feedback results show that participants feel considerably satisfied with the conducted meeting. The selected topic, its value for their further activities, the documentaries and the organization of the meeting were highly evaluated by participants.
The work-group activities and the generated new ideas, the opportunity for exchange of opinions on new library services, the shared good practices are among the most frequently stated “helpful things” learned by participants. They also stated their willingness to take part in more such meetings attended also by representatives of organizations who can be potential library partners.