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Easier access to education, information and work - modern offer of the Georgian libraries

The planned activities are a response to the difficult situation of libraries in two regions of western Georgia – Guria and Imereti. The main goal of the project is to modernise the underfunded and ill-equipped libraries of the region through the implementation of an ICT system and by developing the skills of librarians. Expanding the modernised offer of libraries to include activities addressed to socially disadvantaged groups, particularly children and young people as well as adults from rural areas, will make it possible to effectively identify and respond to the educational needs of residents. The project is carried out in partnership with the Information Society Development Foundation and the Ilia Chavchavadze National Scientific Library of Kutaisi. The project is a continuation of activities for the benefit of the Imereti region that were carried out in 2010.

Librarians are highly respected in their communities due to their traditional position as persons of public trust and their educational background in comparison with other occupational groups. The offering of libraries, however, is of a basic standard and is not adjusted to the requirements and problems of the community. Nonetheless, libraries remain the only local, free cultural institutions that are accessible to all for the purposes of education, information, knowledge and culture.

Easier access to education, information and work - modern offer of the Georgian libraries

The CAL Local Activity Support Centre carried out this project in partnership with the Information Society Development Foundation and the Ilia Chavchavadze National Scientific Library of Kutaisi from 1 April to 31 December 2013. This was a continuation of the activities carried out in 2010 under the project “Personal development and raising the qualifications of librarians as a tool to integrate the local community and improve living conditions in selected municipalities of the Imereti region”.

The project aimed to improve the social welfare of residents of the Guria and Imereti regions in western Georgia through increased access to modern information and educational services provided by local libraries. In the two regions, 15 public libraries received computers (PCs, laptops, multimedia projectors with screens, cameras and sound systems) and internet access, and nearly 50 librarians were trained in the basics of library development planning geared toward activation of residents and in the field of information and communications technology.

The project allowed for the modernisation of local libraries through the installation of IT equipment as well as the acquisition of knowledge by librarians on how to use such equipment in the performance of their duties. Learning about modern methods for working with residents on the basis of Polish experiences enabled library staff to more effectively identify and respond to the needs of residents. The implementation of mini-projects initiated by libraries in 15 towns contributed to social and occupational activation of disadvantaged groups. In all, about 300 people were engaged in the mini-projects.

The librarians showed amazing ingenuity in planning and implementing the projects. They successfully used the tools and forms presented during training, e.g. the methods for researching the needs of the local community and enhancing local cooperation. They also made use of the received IT equipment.