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Representatives of EIFL’s 14 new Public Library Innovation Programme (PLIP) services arrived safely in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in January for their first meeting, despite snowstorms that swept across Europe, grounding aircraft and interrupting road and rail traffic.
The library representatives came from very different continents and climates: sunny Africa and Latin America, and icy Europe. Each library sent two representatives to report on progress since the launch of their new services in November 2011, to share learning and ideas, and to undergo training in communication and advocacy.
Participants valued the opportunity to share experiences highly: ‘I learned from the experiences of other grantees, especially concerning communication, financial reporting and getting results.’ ‘I learnt that good ideas, positive energy and co-operation can empower!’ they commented.
The 14 libraries are replicating successful services implemented by EIFL-PLIP’s first 12 grantees, in the areas of health, agriculture, support for vulnerable children and youth and employment. A key session, on the power of successful advocacy, was presented by delegates from EIFL-PLIP’s past grantee libraries: Amela Hodzic, director of Zavidovici Public Library (Bosnia and Herzegovina); Jelena Rajić, librarian at Public Library "Radislav Nikčević" in Jagodina (Serbia) and Ivanka Sokolova, librarian at Public Library "Braka Miladinovci" in Radoviš (Macedonia).
The participants – who are all using information and communication technology (ICT) in innovative ways to implement their library services – also heard presentations from experts. The international ICT advisor, Edmond Gaible, gave valuable insights into how to use technology successfully, and health sector knowledge management for development expert Farai Matsika advised librarians about effective health information services.
The busy four-day seminar included visits to three Slovenian public libraries: Ljubljana City Library, Kranj City Library and Radovlija Public Library. It ended with an excursion to Lake Bled, one of Slovenia’s most popular tourist destinations.
After a week, the representatives began the long journey home – once again, braving blizzards and freezing weather. Everyone arrived safely.
‘I send you greetings from cold and snowy Zagreb,’ wrote Sanja Bunic, of Zagreb City Libraries (Croatia). ‘From our meeting I brought home many good impressions and inspiration for further work.’
‘We are safely back home – back in temperatures in the plus-30’s.Thank you for an unforgettable time together. Sometimes we feel far from the rest of the world, so it was good to share similar experiences and challenges. We loved getting to know you all, share stories and learn,’ wrote Susan Alexander and Zoe Mann, who represented Masiphumelele Public Library in sunny Cape Town (South Africa).