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The Public Library Innovation Programme – or PLIP – supports public libraries to implement community development projects that use technology to improve lives and livelihoods.
We provide support and small grants to public libraries so that they can provide innovative services for their communities. These services are for people of all ages, in areas such as health, education, employment, livelihoods and agriculture.
We encourage the sharing of experiences and best practice so that successful projects can be replicated in other libraries.
Public libraries can change lives and build strong communities because they are uniquely positioned within communities. They are gateways to knowledge and information and have the advantages of public trust, public funding and skilled staff. With limited additional resources, libraries can extend their services to hard-to-reach and marginalised communities.
In developing and transition countries where the need is greatest, public libraries are under-resourced. Many struggle to integrate ICT into their services. Obstacles include lack of knowledge and skills, outdated hardware, poor infrastructure, the high cost of commercial software applications and scarcity of funds.
Innovative library services using ICT can make a difference to the quality of people’s lives. Everyone should be able to reap the benefits of technology and the digital age.
We work in developing and transition countries.
EIFL-PLIP has given funding support to 39 services in 23 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.
Africa: Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia.
Asia: Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal.
Europe: Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Serbia.
Latin America: Chile, Colombia, Mexico.
Public libraries can play – and are playing – a vital role in community development and in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Information is essential to development, and libraries are a crucial information service. Libraries are also providing a wide range of training and support services that are helping people find jobs, build small businesses, increase productivity and communicate. These services are benefiting young people, women, health workers, students, people living with disability, farmers and many others. Libraries also provide space and opportunities for people to meet and share knowledge and experience. They are a vital link between communities in need, service providers and experts.
Library services supported by EIFL-PLIP in 23 countries show that through their public libraries, people can learn new skills, find jobs, build small businesses, improve at school, modernize their farming methods and increase produce sales, discover history and culture, understand current affairs, improve their health, meet other people and connect to new sources of knowledge and information.
We fund a range of services that aim to encourage libraries to use technology creatively to improve people’s lives. For example, EIFL-PLIP supported the Kenyan National Library service to set up e-health corners in Eldoret and Kisumu. Health workers are now able to access important information relating to their profession and community health.
In Macedonia, the Braka Miladinovci Public Library in Radoviš addresses unemployment, especially among women. The library has installed computers and is training jobseekers to use the Internet to find and apply for jobs. The library has also created a website that links jobseekers to employers, with space for advertising skills and vacancies, and online application processes.
In Chile, Panguipulli Public Library No 269 takes computers to farmers in remote areas of the Andean mountains and builds farmers’ ICT capacity. The farmers have set up a social network to exchange information and to market their produce.
In Tamale, Ghana, the Northern Regional Library builds young people’s leadership and ICT skills, improving their chances in life and employment potential.
Replication means drawing on the vision, experience and practice of other projects or services and creating and implementing a similar project or service in your community. It does not mean the exact copying of a project or service.
EIFL-PLIP encourages development of innovative projects and services whose model, approaches or practices can be replicated by other public libraries. We want to test how ideas travel, how services can be replicated in different geographical and cultural environments, and how public libraries can be innovative in meeting their users’ needs.
One way in which we encourage replication is by inviting public libraries to apply for grants to replicate innovative services that other libraries are providing. For example, in 2011, we invited public libraries to apply for small grants to replicate innovative services developed in 2010 by our first group of 12 grantees.
We also gather and share stories and case studies about innovative public library services. We are always keen to hear about innovative services that can be replicated. If you know of such services, we would be happy to hear from you. Please let us know by contacting plip [at] eifl.net.
EIFL-PLIP invites public libraries to apply for grants. We only accept applications in response to our calls or invitations.
We publicize our grant invitations as widely as possible, using media, our contacts, our website and social networks. Watch our website for announcements and/or link to our networks for alerts.
EIFL-PLIP’s Innovation Awards programme invites public and community libraries that offer innovative community development services to compete for awards. We are especially seeking services that promote and improve community economic wellbeing, community health, social inclusion and open government.
Public and community libraries may enter the competition.
A public library is a library that is open to the general public, and which makes all kinds of knowledge and information available. The main source of funding is local/regional/national government.
A community library is a library which is primarily supported by community contributions, and which makes all kinds of knowledge and information available to the community.
ICT – Information and Communication Technology – refers to all kinds of digital technology used for communication and / or to collect, store and dissemination information. Examples include personal computers and laptops, cell phones and Smart phones, tablets like iPads, web portals, multi-media applications including audio, film, video, games etc., VOIP communication systems like Skype and e-mail, social networking tools like Facebook and twitter, and media like radio and TV.
EIFL is an international not-for-profit organisation dedcated to enabling access to knowledge through libraries in more than 60 developing and transition countries in Africa, Asia and Europe. PLIP is a programme implemented by EIFL that promotes the use of technology to improve people’s lives and sparks innovative ideas for public library services.
Yes. PLIP and EIFL carry out advocacy at international and national policy levels. We also encourage our grantees to carry out policy advocacy in their own countries. We use evidence about what works well from the new services we support in our advocacy. We especially want to ensure that policy-makers hear the voices of librarians from developing and transition countries, so that they understand libraries' potential and needs, and can provide appropriate, development-oriented support.