EIFL Public Library Innovation Award 14

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Public libraries improving people’s lives

Winners have been announced. The award is currently closed. submissions no longer accepted!

The award is open to all public and community libraries in developing and transition countries that use information and communication technology (ICT) to improve lives in their communities by addressing issues that are included in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Public and community library services across the world have been halted or disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, we have added another award category, for new ICT-based library services introduced especially to address issues affecting communities as a result of COVID-19.

Tell us your story and enter a competition to win a prize of US$1,500!


The award recognizes public libraries that are improving people’s lives by offering innovative services using ICT to contribute to any of the following issues:

  • Community economic wellbeing and employment;
  • Supporting farmers;
  • Community health and hygiene;
  • Digital inclusion;
  • Gender equality and empowerment of women and girls;
  • Education for all;
  • Climate change and any other issues affecting the environment;
  • Responding to COVID-19 - new services launched specifically in relation to the pandemic.

You can apply for any innovative service started after January 2018 that addresses one of the issues listed above.

The deadline for applications is Monday, 16 November 2020.

We are accepting applications in English, French, Russian and Spanish.


Note - the list below includes just a few ideas and examples of libraries using ICT to address development issues. Please do not be limited by this list.

Economic wellbeing and employment

  • Use ICT to help people create income-earning opportunities; provide employment-seeking and digital skills to enable people to apply for jobs online; build entrepreneurship capacity and connect people to sources of financial support like investments and loans; build financial literacy understandings and skills; enable unemployed people to use ICT to connect to government support and services.

Supporting farmers

  • Combining information services with ICT and e-literacy training to improve farmers’ access to agricultural subsidies, and helping farmers to apply for subsidies online; develop farmers’ e-literacy skills so that they can research the internet for information about market prices, the weather, agricultural equipment, farming methods, etc; help farmers find and connect to agricultural experts; compile and disseminate useful information related to farming in local languages.

Health and hygiene

  • Support communities to protect themselves against illness; compile health information and disseminate it to hard-to-reach people; use online communications technology (Skype, WhatsApp, email, etc) to help connect patients with doctors and other health experts; increase health workers’ access to information and knowledge that will improve their ability to treat their patients; build partnerships with government or non-governmental agencies to extend and improve health services.

Digital inclusion

  • Services that improve the lives of people excluded from the benefits of being online, for example, poor or long-term unemployed people, the homeless, people living with disability or stigmatized health problems like HIV/AIDS; the elderly; services that empower citizens to know their rights, take part in civic affairs and use e-government services, and services seeking to develop a broad range of digital literacy skills, from basic computer and mobile information literacy to media literacy, and digital content creation, safety and problem solving.

Gender equality and empowerment of women and girls

  • Using ICT in information, empowerment and skills programmes focused on issues affecting women and girls for example, employment, education, sexual and reproductive health, finance for small businesses, support for survivors of rape, domestic violence and other kinds of sexual abuse, vocational training and women’s rights, etc.

Education for all

  • Library services that use ICT to create or promote educational opportunities for children, youth and adults and that reduce school and course drop-out rates; increasing people’s literacy and numeracy skills.

Climate change and other issues affecting the environment

  • Using ICT to raise awareness about environmental issues and how they affect our lives; mobilizing positive action to protect the environment and reduce and reverse environmental degradation.

Responding to COVID-19

  • Using ICT in new services created to help communities continue working or learning during the pandemic; health services that help people to understand the coronavirus and protect themselves and others; connecting people affected by COVID-19 to sources of help and support; enabling community members to use the library’s technology outside the library.

Who may enter?

To enter the competition, you must meet all of the following criteria:

  • You must be a public or community library.
  • The library must be in a transition or developing economy country [pdf].
  • The service you are submitting must use digital information and communication technology (ICT).
  • The service should have started after January 2018. If the service is not operational, or is only partly operational, as a result of restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, please explain this clearly in the application form.
  • New services addressing issues related to COVID-19 should have started during the pandemic lockdown period, and be operational at the time of application.
  • You must provide evidence of positive results of the service or impact in the community, including statistics of service usage, numbers of people who benefited, stories by service users about how the service helped improve their lives.
  • Only one service can be presented by each applicant. Additional services or projects presented in the application will not be considered.


  1. We expect applicants to demonstrate innovative uses of technology and positive results (impact) of the services in their communities, showing how the service improves lives / contributes to overcoming the development need/s addressed.
  2. We will not accept applications seeking funding to start new services.

When can you enter?

This call is now open. The deadline for submitting applications is Monday, 16 November 2020.

What will you win?

  • Each winner will receive US$1,500; and
  • International publicity – EIFL will share your innovative service story widely through its publicity channels.

Number of awards

There will be more than one award – the number of award-winners will depend on the quality and diversity of applications received.

Further details about this award and how to apply