Nearly 1,200 events attended by over 40,000 people, more than 90 innovative services, 215 new products and tools: these numbers are a testimony to the shift of attitude of the renewed Lithuanian libraries towards their visitors and the community. All these changes were partially a result of the three-year Libraries for Innovation 2 project initiated by the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania.
Representatives of public libraries and local self-governments of Lithuania, cultural policy makers, and partners from foreign libraries gathered in the Libraries for Innovation 2 project closing conference held in the National Library, where they were greeted by the robot Zoras. It was happy to be among people, especially to interact with such a creative and knowledge-sharing community.
Many speakers of the conference pointed out the changes in the public libraries and their importance for communities in the three years of Libraries for Innovation 2 implementation, while the guests from foreign libraries shared their best practices. The visitors were also introduced to a unique virtual reality service Time Portal based on innovative technologies.
According to Eugenijus Stratilatovas, the Manager of Libraries for Innovation 2, this innovation project served as a great catalyst and will encourage the libraries to continue developing and adapting to the changing needs of society even after the end of the project.
“For three years libraries were developing new services reaching far beyond the traditional concept of a library and continuously improved the competences of their staff: learning to prepare projects, looking for additional funding to implement them, attracting new partners, communicating effectively and involving local communities into library activities, and ultimately sharing the experience and learning from each other. Over 1,000 public libraries in Lithuania are now shaping a new understanding about the developing functions of a library and its mission in the society,” said Mr. Stratilatovas.
Dr. Arūnas Gelūnas, member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, spoke of the role of a library in the cultural life of the country: “We have a vast network of libraries and speaking of regional culture, we have all preconditions to start a very substantial network of institutions employing professional and intelligent people. We heard today that they had also acquired additional competencies: computer literacy as well as working with communities, politicians, and partners. These completely new functions make their role even stronger.”
The libraries of today are no longer mere centres of knowledge and book depositories. They are constantly and systematically organising a variety of activities: creative workshops, meetings, classes of creating movies, comics, and music as well as training in programming, engineering, and robotics. They organize various types of training and refresher courses for students, adults, and seniors.
During the project implementation period, trainings organized in 37 libraries were attended by over 13,000 people who acquired new skills in the fields of information and communication technology, vocation, entrepreneurship, and creative industries. Educational activities were attended by more than 20,000 visitors over the past two years.
Within the framework of the Libraries for Innovation 2 project, around 1,190 events were organised in the libraries, including presentations of new services, exhibitions, tours, creative workshops, quizzes, competitions, meetings with people, movie watching sessions, etc. The above events were attended by over 40,000 people.
The project provided an opportunity for public libraries to create or improve over 90 services, including psychological help for children via computer communication tools, virtual learning services, interactive language courses, mobile labs and IT centres, sound recording studios, etc. The visitors of public libraries can now use leisure and learning spaces, engage in photography, create video and audio materials, and use the infrastructure and technologies available in the libraries (e.g. 3D modelling software, 3D printers).
In 2015–2016, 45 public libraries implementing the Libraries for Innovation 2 project attracted support and additional funding totalling over EUR 380,000. Although the public sector and local self-government authorities remain the main partners of libraries, 25 libraries managed to attract around EUR 54,000 from the private sector over the period of two years and to establish cooperation with the business sector.
“This year, 45 public libraries of Lithuania successfully completed the implementation of projects within the framework of Libraries for Innovation 2, which were co-funded by the Ministry of Culture and aimed at improving the quality of life of local communities. These projects enable libraries to continue expanding the supply of services, strengthening partnerships with businesses, local self-government authorities, NGOs, and other libraries. In total, financing of the projects amounted to EUR 1,200,000,” said Mr. Stratilatovas.
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