Award 6: Creative use of ICT in public libraries

Meet the winners!

Colombia – Biblioteca Publica San Javier-La Loma’s mapping project makes their community visible online.

Croatia  Rijeka City Library’s interactive online magazine inspires young writers and artists.

Estonia – Tallinn Central Library which has developed and pioneered an e-book lending service in Estonia. 

Kenya  kenya national library service: two public library children's programmes use ICT to support education in remote areas. 

Poland – Olsztyn Municipal Public Library’s ICT laboratory enables people to compose music, produce movies, make moving robots, and much more.

Romania – Pietrari Local Public Library helps overweight members of their community get back in shape.

Colombia - Biblioteca Publica San Javier-La Loma

Public library puts their community on the map

For a demonstration of balloon mapping and a great view of San Javier-La Loma, watch the library’s video. 

Our community is somewhere between Medellin and the rural area, and perhaps this is why we are not included in the maps. If we are not on the map, we are invisible! We do not exist!’ – Viviana Álvarez, community member.

San Javier-La Loma is a mixed working class and farming neighbourhood of about 25,000 people on the outskirts of Medellin. Homes are close together, roads are narrow and some places are only accessible on foot.

Biblioteca Publica San Javier-La Loma, a branch of the Medellin public library network, was eager to offer the community services focused on their needs. But they ran into a problem – there was no recent map of the area. The last official map was dated 1971. Modern San Javier-La Loma was invisible to Colombia and the world.

So librarians initiated a community mapping project. Over 400 community members are involved, bringing memory, photos and stories about their day-to-day experience to the mapping project. The new maps are online, and the members of the community can constantly update them to reflect changes in their location and lives.

San Javier-La Loma is now mapped in more detail than any other part of Medellin. Access roads and footpaths, markets and businesses, statistics, farms and factories, historical, religious and cultural sites, schools and social services are all included in their living online maps.

‘The mapping process built community identity. Our project brought positive change to people’s way of life by strengthening values like tolerance and emphasizing the idea that responsibility for the community is shared by individuals and public institutions.’ – Gabriel Jaime Vanegas Montoya, librarian and coordinator of the community mapping project.

Creative use of ICT

The mapping process uses computers and the internet, digital cameras and voice recorders. The library engaged experts in free Open Source mapping software to teach members of the community to create maps. Click the links to take a look: OpenStreetMap; MapOSMatic; Crowdmap.The library also uses ‘balloon mapping’. This involves filling balloons with helium, suspending a digital camera from the balloons and allowing the balloons to drift over the chosen area. The digital camera is programmed to take photos, and the balloons are attached to a string. When the camera has taken enough photos, a participant reels in the balloons.

For further information contact Gabriel Jaime Vanegas Montoya at coordinacion.blaloma(at)

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Croatia - Rijeka City Library

Public library’s lively online magazine provides outlet for young writers and artists

Young contributors can create content and read GKR Magazin on desktop, laptop, tablet computers and smartphones.

‘GKR Magazin is the only publication on the local literary scene following modern, forward-looking issues.’ – Writer and local artist using the pen-name “Skarlet_P”.

Rijeka City Library draws on the creativity of students and young unemployed people in Rijeka to publish an exciting online magazine that tackles serious issues and challenges shallow and sensationalist local media.

GKR Magazin has led to an explosion of creativity in Rijeka, a city of 128,000 people. Since its launch in June 2013, the magazine has published over 500 articles; built up a team of eight volunteer editors, designers and proofreaders, and has 68 regular contributors – mostly aged under 30 – who provide a steady stream of short stories, news, essays, features, poetry, reviews, photographs and film. Watch out local media – GKR Magazin already has over 2,000 visitors a day!

‘As an amateur writer I find GKR Magazin incredibly useful for developing writing skills, meeting people of similar interest, and sharing experiences. More importantly, writing for GKR Magazin is fun!’ - Tamara Crnko, young author.

Creative use of ICT

The library publishes GKR Magazin (Rijeka City Library Magazine) using an interactive Open-source Content Management System (CMS) that enables users to create, publish and view text and images from desktop, laptop and tablet computers, and smartphones.

GKR Magazin's interface is user-friendly and exciting, with interactive tools. The magazine has become a space for connecting young and established authors and supporting creative people.' -  Katarina Lovrečić, GKR Magazin author and editor.

For further information, contact Kristian Benic, marketing, public relations and project management associate at Rijeka City Library: kristian.benic(at)

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Estonia - Tallinn Central Library

Public library pioneers online e-book lending service

A librarian shows a user how to borrow books online.

‘Our e-book lending programme has led to discussion on the future of e-books and has highlighted the need for copyright law reform in Estonia - Ms Triinu Seppam, Director of Library Services at Tallinn Central Library.

Tallinn Central Library has developed and is pioneering an online lending service that gives Estonians across the globe round-the-clock electronic access to modern Estonian literature in formats that are compatible with computers, tablets, smart phones and e-readers.

Estonian is the official language of Estonia’s population of about 1.3 million, and it is also spoken by Estonian communities living in many other countries.

Through the e-book service, known as ELLU (E-raamatute laenamis- ja lugemiskeskkond – in English, 'e-book lending and reading environment’), registered users of Tallinn Central Library can go online at any time and read Estonian literature.

In just two years, the library has built up a collection of over 680 Estonian e-book titles. Since the launch of the service early in 2012, over 2,700 registered library users in Estonia and living in the US, Europe, China and Taiwan have used the service. The books have been borrowed nearly 16,000 times.

Right now, Tallinn Central Library is the only public library in Estonia lending modern e-books in Estonian. Other public libraries have expressed keen interest, and the library is looking at ways of integrating them into the service.

Creative use of ICT

With funding from the city of Tallinn and the Ministry of Culture, the library developed streaming software for the online e-books lending service.

Users access the service through the library’s website and online catalogue. To log in, users need a library card, an identity card or they can create an identity and log in using their mobile phone number.

Users can borrow three books at a time, for up to 21 days. The books can be streamed to a desktop computer, laptop, or tablet, a smartphone or an e-reader that supports html5 and Javascript (computer language that supports graphics and illustrations).

For further information, contact Triinu Seppam – Triinu.Seppam(at)

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Kenya national library service - Buruburu and Kisumu branch libraries

Kisumu: Library’s video conferencing project connects rural schools
Video conference in action: Kisumu High School pupils connect to Lions High School and Nakuru library, 200 km away. When large groups of children take part, schools use projectors to magnify images and speakers to amplify sound

‘This has opened up a new chapter in my teaching career! I have never seen such technology before!’ – Ms Rosemary Mutakha, English teacher at Shikalakala primary school.

Schools hundreds of kilometres apart in remote areas of western Kenya and across the border in Uganda are engaging in lively interschool debates, quizzes and spelling competitions through this public library smartphone, laptop and video conferencing project.

Few rural schools have internet connections, and so the library researched ways of connecting through the mobile phone network. The library provides technology training for teachers who use laptops and mobile phone connections to log in and join the fun.

The programme has opened the eyes of teachers and pupils to the power of digital technology.

‘We are revolutionizing the operations of the library, and getting pupils from an early age to embrace new technology and understand its benefits for their own lives and economic development of their countries.’ - Mr Julius Ambala, head of the Kisumu public library.

Creative use of ICT

For the project to work, the library must connect to the schools over the internet. But most rural schools do not have broadband connections, and so must they connect through mobile phone service providers. To do this, they either plug a mobile phone modem into a laptop through a USB port, or they convert a smartphone into a WiFi hotspot using a process known as ‘tethering’. The tethering process involves enabling the hotpspot option on the phone, creating a wireless network by configuring wireless security, and then connecting the laptop to the new wireless network, just as you would with any hotspot.

Once the connections have been set up, free video conferencing software - VSee or ooVoo - enables teachers and pupils to see and hear each other.

For further information, contact Mr Moses I. Mwandihi at knls Kisumu branch library - moses.imbayi(a)

Buruburu: Mobile digital librarian goes online to bring stories to children

‘It is so good being able to read a book with more than 80 children at the same time. It is as though each of them had their own copy of the book!’ – child minder at a care centre.

Buruburu public library’s mobile digital librarian brings the magic of e-books to hospitals, young offenders’ institutions, child care centres and schools, reaching hundreds of children who do not have access to books and would otherwise not hear the stories.

The mobile digital librarian travels with a laptop, a modem, an LCD projector and speakers. The librarian downloads the stories from a variety of digital libraries, which provide free e-books and educational resources for children, for example, Curious George, Starfall-Learn to Read, the International Children’s Digital Library; Storyplace, and Oxford Owl. Enlarged text is projected to a screen, and the librarian guides the children through the stories.

Creative use of ICT

Through the internet, children gain access to a magic world of free online story books.

Using the modem, the librarian connects to the internet and downloads the free e-books to a laptop. The projector is used to enlarge the text and pictures, which are shown on an LCD screen.

The librarian or a teacher then reads with the children, guiding them through the stories. The speakers amplify the sound for bigger groups, and when there is no librarian or teacher to read with the children, pre-recorded stories are broadcast through the speakers.

After each story, children ask questions and discuss content.

For further information, contact Millicent Awuor Mlanga, head of Buruburu Branch Library at millicent.mlanga(a)

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Poland - Olsztyn Municipal Public Library

There’s something for everyone at the library’s ICT laboratory

Young composers make music in the MultiCentre.

The library’s ICT laboratory is well known in Olsztyn as the MultiCentre. Its doors are open to people with all kinds of needs and interests, and of all ages – the youngest user is three and the oldest is over 80.

In the MultiCentre people compose music, draw caricatures, produce media like movies, animation and posters, and build robots. Skills courses are divided into four modules: MultiArt, MultiMusic, MultiScience and MultiTech.

An especially keen group is young people living with disability, who come to the centre to learn skills and have fun as part of the library’s ‘Yes They Can!’ programme. Since ‘Yes They Can!’ began in 2010, the library has worked with 750 disabled children and young adults.

A favourite is the MultiTech module, in which the children build toys, like aeroplanes, fire engines and carousels, and learn digital robotics to make the models move.

‘When I tell the children we are going to the MultiCentre, they simply cannot wait!’ – Mrs Anna Werra-Swiątecka, teacher at a school for children with special needs.

Creative use of ICT

People who come to the MultiCentre will find computers loaded with music, art, graphic design and problem solving software. MultiCentre users can try drawing on graphics tablets, which wirelessly transmit images to computer screens, and use audio mixers to mix music and play it back through speakers.

To make robots, children use K’NEX blocks,especially designed with moving parts. Working on computers, children create simple computer programming language, which is transmitted to tiny electric engines that make the robots move.

For further information contact Mrs Ilona Sekścińska, project manager, at ilona(a)

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Romania - Pietrari Local Public Library

Kilos roll away as public library helps community get back in shape

Before and After: Ms Ileana Nitu, who lost 22kg through the library’s programme.

'I look different, feel different, and my husband and child appreciate the difference! Without Pietrari Local Public Library I would not have succeeded!’ – Ms Ileana Nitu, aged 32, who lost 22kg.

Brave librarians are using technology to confront obesity in their community head on – and the kilos are rolling away as library users now regularly work out in the reading room.

In Pietrari, a village of about 3,000 people, inactive lifestyles, poor diet and lack of information about nutrition means that over 25% of people are overweight. Concerned librarians decided to help the community get back in shape.

They launched Be Fit Not Fat in October 2012. Outreach through schools drew an enthusiastic response: 180 attended exercise classes in the library, using Wii fitness consoles, and 43 seriously overweight teenagers and mothers joined an intensive programme. To make sure weight loss is lasting and safe, the library works closely with fitness specialists, doctors and nutritionists.

‘The doctor was amazed at how much weight I have lost. She warned me for years to lose weight, but I failed until I joined the library’s programme.’ – Ms Alina Tapusi, aged 28, who lost 17 kg.

Creative use of ICT

Children use the exercise console for a work out in the library.

Be Fit Not Fat combines action with interaction. During physical exercise classes in the library, participants use a Wii Fit Plus console. This is a video gaming console programmed for fitness training. The console transmits a moving image of a fitness trainer to a television screen. Exercisers then create their own exercise programme by using a remote control device to manipulate the image of the trainer.

Participants in the intensive fitness and nutrition programme have created a Facebook page and a lively blog, for sharing experiences, giving encouragement and celebrating weight loss. Using library computers, they consult nutritionists in the capital city, Bucharest, many kilometres away, via the online communication tool, Skype.

For further information, contact Crina Popescu, head of the library at bibliotecapietrari(a)

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