Good morning ! My name is Mihaela Andonova and I work as a librarian under the Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Program at the library and information center at Svetlina 1896 Public Chitalishte in the village of Gara Bov . I applied for participation and I was approved to be part of the Bulgarian group which took part in the International Young Librarians Academy that took place on 27-30 August 2012 in Latvia .
The International Academy was funded entirely by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, following the successful implementation of a series of local youth academies in individual GL countries. It aimed to create a network of young professionals as the future of the librarian profession, introduce them to the latest library trends and exchange experience and good practices among young librarians from Europe , North and South America, Africa, Asia.
The event took place in the city of Ventspils (a Baltic Sea port city) . Eligibility requirements for all participants included: aged up to 35 years , employed by a GL target library, very good command of English . Applicants approved to participate in the Academy included 45 young librarians from Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Ukraine, Poland, Botswana, Vietnam, Columbia and Bulgaria .
This is the group of Bulgarian representatives. Right to left: me, Stanislava Toncheva from Sofia City Library, Teodora Ivanova from the Children’s Dept. of the library in Burgas, Desislava Marinova, Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria PR Specialist, Nina Yankova from the library in Yambol, Radoslav Yorgov from the library in Razgrad and Silvina Furnadzhieva, Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Portal Specialist !
For four days, our trainers included ten representatives of the different countries participants who had given their voluntary consent to take share their experience in working with users , creating presentations, preparing advocacy campaigns, etc. Silvina Furnadzhieva from the GLB team was also part of the trainers’ team and presented to the audience the opportunities for utilizing social networks and blogs as part of library presentation and promotion activities in the different countries .
The four-day training modules included topics like : provision of new library services, preparation of advocacy campaigns, promotion opportunities through multimedia presentations and photo movies.
Lively discussions were initiated on topics of current interest like: improving library image among local communities, building partnerships and beneficial cooperation with governments and civil society , building library organizational culture .
The shared common library problematic areas and the joint search of solutions by participants resulted in the systematization of seven initiatives that could contribute to sorting out key pressing library issues : drafting an international library manifesto , “Libraries on the Map ” (library promotion among the public) , “ Top Three Services ” provided by libraries (or identifying the three most demanded library services and maximizing them for the purposes of the individual library) , “ Cycling Librarian” – the initiative aims to promote reading among teenagers , advocacy campaigns for improving library working conditions , exchange of experience locally by academy participants ; “ Being Librarians ” (or how to make young people engage in library studies) .
The visits to three regional libraries were informative and valuable for our stay in Latvia. These were the City Library in Ventspils which hosted the training sessions, its branch Parventa, and the library in the city of Kuldiga .
The library in the city of Ventspils was established in the central part of the Baltic city in 1937, partly renovated in 1998 and reconstructed completely in 2005. This project was implemented by local authorities through a co-financing contribution under the EU Funds . It has five structural units: main library, youth center, university department located in the local college, and two branches in the city .
The library offers more than 206 , 000 volumes of literature , subscription to more than 100 periodicals , more than 8 , 000 audio-visual items . It also provides free internet access to all users, its own digital center, a conference room and two training centers . In addition, it implements numerous bookmobile initiatives.
One of the branches of the main Ventspils city library is “ Parventa ”. The building stands out for its modern architecture. It was built in 2008 by four of the country’s most famous architects , again within a project of the city administration co-funded by the EU.
This modern library meets entirely the standards for accessible environment for senior and disabled people , implements educational library initiatives for children and offers premises ideally suited to host cultural events for the local community.
The first library in the city of Kuldiga was established in 1920 and to date has changed its location six times. One of the city’s NGOs applied with a project proposal to the European Regional Development Fund and in 2010 a project for overall reconstruction and expansion of the existing synagogue totaling USD 1,600,000 was launched.
The new library was opened in the summer of 2011 and in one year’s time the number of its patrons grew by more than 3 , 500 people . The library’s children department is very cozy and attractive. Adjacent to the main building is the library’s two-storey exhibition hall which is used as a public events venue.
We visited yet another renovated building in Ventspils bearing a strong resemblance to our chitalishte institution. Local citizens call it a youth center. Built in 1912 and renovated in 2010, this center has its own concert hall, a racing hall (where children can assemble racing cars from wooden modules and use the runway) , a sound recording studio, a robotics room , a crafts room, an antiquarian museum, etc.
The International Young Librarians Academy hosted talks, exchanged ideas, established contacts ... built capacity ! One of the main conclusions we all made at the end of the training is that the key mission of modern libraries is being part of communities’ active lives by providing access to a maximum number of information sources.
At the end of the training, we all reached the conclusion that librarians are ... ”living and original search engines ”, “ walking encyclopedias ” and “ local Googles ”! Did you see yourselves here ?
Mihaela Andonova, Librarian at Svetlina 1896 Public Chitalishte in the village of Gara Bov
InternationalYoung Librarians Academy 27-30 August 2012, Ventspils, Latvia
THE ACADEMY... Funded entirely byBill & Melinda Gates Foundation and aiming to: Create a network of young professionals Present the latest library trends Exchange experience and good practices among young librarians from five continents.
THE TRAINING... Provision of new library services Preparation of advocacy campaigns Promotion opportunities through multimedia presentations and photo movies.
THE TRAINING... Improve library image among local communities Build partnerships and beneficial cooperation withgovernments and civil society Build organizational culture.
THE TRAINING... International manifesto “Libraries on the Map” “Top Three Services” “Cycling Librarian” Advocacy campaigns forimproving library workingconditions Experience exchange amongacademy participants “Being Librarians”