The last week of October, Ramune Petuchovaite (EIFL PLIP Programme Manager) and Monika Elbert (Senior Policy Advisor) will travel to Addis Ababa to meet the main stakeholders (Addis Ababa city and federal authorities and library community), and discuss the possibilities of implementing innovative pilot projects in public libraries in the city.
Previous discussions with representatives of Addis Ababa and Mekele departments of culture and tourism, as well as library professionals during a recent visit by Monika Elbert, which were aimed at getting to know and understand the situation and development plans for public libraries in Ethiopia, came to the conclusion that there is potential for mutual synergy:
- youth employment is one of the challenges faced by Addis Ababa city;
- public funding bodies in Addis Ababa are interested in modernising public library infrastructure to enable them to play a part in the development of communities;
- the library profession is ready to embrace the digital technologies that are revolutionising access to information;
- EIFL PLIP has expertise and experience in developing new library services to address youth needs and unemployment issues, and the resources to co-fund public library pilot initiatives in Ethiopia.
During the visit, EIFL PLIP will explore engagement with those Addis Ababa city departments that are responsible for public libraries, youth employment, and public access to ICT and information and are ready to partner in 2-3 pilot projects in Addis Ababa. The aim of these pilots will be to develop new services to test and demonstrate how innovative public libraries can contribute to government policies and meet community needs, by preparing young people for the future and enhancing their employable skills. Based on the EIFL experience in other African countries, pilots can be easily scaled up and replicated in other public libraries in Ethiopia.