One of the most important events in the library public is 79th IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) General Conference and Assembly, held annually in a country with developed library and information system. Since the previous 78th IFLA conference was held in Europe, in Helsinki, Finland, this year the host of the 79th IFLA Conference was Singapore, the city-state in the southern part of Asia. The Congress lasted from 17-23 August and there were more than 3,000 library workers
from all over the world (librarians, university professors, representatives of library institutions and associations, directors of national and other libraries, delegates, exhibitors and participants who attended 223 sessions, government representatives, business representatives…) The theme of IFLA Conference was Future Libraries: Infinite Possibilities.
The project of the village agricultural libraries network (AgroLib Ja) by the Jagodina Public Library was presented more than once at the 79th IFLA Congress. Also, it attracted a lot of attention at the session Marketing and Management: Marketing on a shoe string, as well as the attention of the delegates and visitors at the Poster Session.
At the 86th Session Marketing and Management-Marketing on a shoe string,
Suzana Tanasijevic, a librarian at the Jagodina Public Library presented the paper New model of library marketing for farmers and promotional creativity in action. The visitors of the session were particularly interested in how the Jagodina Library managed to attract farmers to come to the libraries and what the cooperation with the local authorities was like.
At the Poster Sessions 104 and 135 Vesna Crnkovic, the director of the library and Jelena Rajic, a librarian at the Jagodina Public Library, presented the poster Project AgroLib Ja-Fostering Cooperation between the Library and the Local Community. The poster was noticed by the delegates, librarians and government representatives from around the world. A lot of librarians, not only from the transition countries, but also from the developed ones talked about the problems of the library and information system in rural areas in their countries and asked for promotional material in order to present the example of good practice of the Jagodina Public Library to their local communities.
Also, the representatives of the ministries and authorities from countries around the world were interested to get in touch with one of the representatives of the Jagodina Library so as they could find out more about the AgroLib service and possible application of such model adapted to the needs of different local communities.
For example, Mr Hamidreza Mokhtari Aksi, working in Higher Education Center of Agriculture in Iran, was particularly interested in education of farmers in village libraries and online marketplace for farmers’ produce.
Ms Ugne Lipeikaite, EIFL-PLIP Impact Manager (EIFL, Rome, Italy) at the Session 141: Education and training for agricultural library and information professionals: an international perspective – Agricultural Libraries Special Interest Group presented the
paper Agriculture, libraries and human development: case studies of Europe, Africa and Latin America and talked about agricultural projects funded by EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries). Ms Lipeikaite highlighted the project of agricultural libraries by the Jagodina Library as the excellent one.
Ms Vilma Jovanova, a senior librarian at the National and University Library Goce Delcev in Stip, Macedonia at the Session 141 Education and training for agricultural library and information professionals: an international perspective – Agricultural Libraries Special Interest Group presented the paper The Library on Wheels, Infobus - A Library at the Will of the Farmers. She talked about the cooperation with the Jagodina Library during the replication of the project AgroLib Ja and adaptation of the services for farmers to their local community.
Beyond Access initiative from the USA invited library professionals, interested in strengthening relationships and services with international partners, to the pilot workshop. The workshop was led by Ms Zola Madisson from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ms. Susan Schnur from the Illinois University and Mr Ari Katz from IREX (International Research and Exchanges Board). During his presentation of Beyond Access dedicated to the idea that modern public libraries could help economic and social development of the community, Mr. Katz mentioned the Jagodina Public Library as an example of a library that that abandoned the traditional model of work and with the project AgroLib Ja achieved excellent results in economic development. Public libraries in cooperation with governments and non-governmental organizations, according to the program staff of Beyond Access, could contribute to the development of the communities in areas such as: economic development, health, digital inclusion, education and civic engagement.
Agricultural Libraries in Jagodina, Serbia(The Flyer used to promote poster AgroLib-Ja Fostering Cooperation between the Library and Local Community at IFLA Poster Session)
- With the Articles of Association – the decree by King Peter on 27th April 1909 – the Public Library in Jagodina (Serbia) was established. The Jagodina Public Library is a modern institution with a long tradition of working with books, nurturing and satisfying cultural and educational needs of the citizens. It is the parent library for the Pomoravski district and it is the hub of library and information system of the region. The Library has won prestigious awards including Surep’s award ( in the eighties of the 20th century), the highest award in Serbian librarianship and also three international awards for the AgroLib Ja project-by American organization Beyond Access for its originality and innovation, WSIS 2013 Project Prize for excellence and the ERSTE Foundation Honorary Award for Social Integration 2013. It is a member of Beyond Access organization, based in Washington DC, whose tagline is We believe libraries can power social and economic development.
- In addition to determination to improve library services and expand the range of users, the Library made attempts and succeeded at imposing itself as a center of the local community, a sort of information hub. The project AgroLib Ja (Agricultural Libraries in Jagodina) offers entirely new access to revitalization of the rural libraries network and the use of new information technologies. The project AgroLib Ja was launched by the Public Library in Jagodina in April 2010 thanks to the support from the international organization EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries).
- The Jagodina City Council plays key role in the successful development of the project by supporting it. The project partners are the Rural Development Support Network and the Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises and Registered Agricultural Households which provide different trainings for farmers, agricultural expertise and information.
Now, in five villages there are functional libraries with free Internet access.Libraries equipped with modern information and communication technology increase access to information and participate in the development of communities.
- Key outputs
Over 900 farmers, today, regularly visit the village libraries and use the AgroLib-Ja services.
1. Agricultural lectures
2. Sharing best practices
3. Agricultural magazines and literature
4. AgroLib Market
5. Internet access and ICT training
- In three years about 200 farmers were trained to use the Internet– and 87% of farmers say they use the Internet at the library to look for agricultural information. Farmers’ ICT literacy increases through using computers and Internet in the libraries.
- In just three years, over 1.000 farmers attended panel discussions and lecturers. Their agricultural production is enhanced by applying what they read in agricultural magazines and books and hear in agricultural lectures in the libraries; their awareness to available government subsidies and incentives increases with the help of the librarians and the project partners;
- Now, farmers have the opportunity to share best practices in their rural libraries and through the online portal http://www.agrolib.rs/ .
- The AgroLib Ja project and projects by other libraries with similar ideas show that rural libraries should be given a new role in modern librarianship. Rural libraries should become educational, informational, communication and cultural hubs in their local communities.
Rural libraries trigger huge social and economic changes in communities and beyond.
Text by: Vesna Crnković
Translated by: Jelena Rajić
Designed by: Ognjen Stevanović
Printed by: Papir Komerc Jagodina