Friday, October 17, 2014

How New Information Hubs are Advancing Agriculture in Serbia

Increased agricultural productivity is key to boosting incomes and creating jobs in rural Serbia. And for farmers to increase their productivity, they need access to agricultural information and training, along with access to markets and financial opportunities.
In Jagodina, a rural town in central Serbia, the local public library partnered with the farming community to develop the AgroLib-Ja project, which transformed local libraries into information hubs. The Jagodina Public Library has revitalized five rural libraries through the Beyond Access-supportedLibraries for Development grant and close partnerships with the local city council and media outlets. Library staff have added agriculture-focused research materials to the library’s resources, hosted agricultural trainings, and implemented children’s education programs.
Perhaps just as important, the AgroLib-Ja project has improved Internet access for rural Jagodinans. Farmers can visit their community libraries to access the Internet and participate in technology training, where they learn new skills to access government services or obtain small business loans. Farmers and other small business owners can also access the AgroLib-Ja online marketplace, where they can reach new local, regional, and national markets to sell their goods.
Read the Jagodina Library’s case study to learn more about the AgroLib-Ja project, or contact us You can also take a look at EIFL’s write-up of the project, or visit the Jagodina Library’s blog.
This post was written by Nolen Deibert, a Program Associate working mainly with the Beyond Access initiative in Africa. It originally appeared on Beyond Access.
An initiative of IREX and partner organizations, Beyond Access is a movement of people and organizations committed to the idea that modern public libraries help drive economic and social development.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Jagodina Library at IFLA Conference 2014

The Jagodina Library was represented at IFLA World Library and Information Congress
by Suzana Tanasijević. On 19 August in the room: Auditorium Lumière of the Lyon Convention Centre, she had a remarkable presentation of her paper Public Library - the important link between rural libraries.

It was a first presentation at session 140- Role of information literacy in agricultural productivity and food security: An international perspective — Agricultural Libraries Special Interest Group. The Jagodina Library has been participating in this special interest group since the beginning of the project AgroLib Ja.

18 authors from Serbia, Italy, Sri Lanka, India, Netherlands, Nigeria and the USA gave their contribution to the session. They talked about access to information, development of information literacy, role of libraries in education of farmers, increase of productivity, ecology and the quality of produce.

Session 140 — Role of information literacy in agricultural productivity and food security: An international perspective — Agricultural Libraries Special Interest Group
19 August 2014 13:45 - 15:45 | Room: Auditorium Lumière | SI
·         Public Library - the important link between rural libraries
SUZANA TANASIJEVIĆ (Public Library “Radislav Nikčević", Jagodina, Serbia)
·         Libraries as activators of farmer’s learning
RAMUNE PETUCHOVAITE and UGNE LIPEIKAITE (EIFL - Electronic Information for Libraries, Rome, Italy)
·         Influence of Information Literacy skills of paddy farmers of Sri Lanka in accessing agricultural information
MOHAMED MAJEED MASHROOFA and WATHMANEL SENEWIRATHNE (South Eastern University of Sri Lanka, Oluvil, Sri Lanka)
·         Attaining Information Literacy : An assessment of Indian Agricultural Universities approach
NEENA SINGH (G B Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar, India)
·         Green information chain: “Groen Kennisnet” brings agricultural knowledge from research to the classroom, farm and business
ROB VAN GENDEREN and JACQUELIJN RINGERSMA (Wageningen UR Library, Wageningen, Netherlands)
·         Farmers information literacy and awareness towards agricultural produce and food security
·         Embedding Information Literacy into the Agriculture Curriculum in Liberia: A Model Approach for Developing Countries
MARTIN KESSELMAN (Rutgers University, New Brunswick, United States)
·         Role of AGRIS in providing global agricultural information to boost productivity and food security
·         Agricultural Information Literacy Instruction Focusing on Four Ds Model of Agricultural Information Transfer: An Overview
DEVA ESWARA REDDY and AJAY PRATAP SINGH (Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, United States)

Text and photos by:
Goran Trailović
Librarian advisor
Head of the Bibliography and Publishing Department
of the Pančevo City Library
Editor-in-chief of Čitalište

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Jagodina Library among the winners of the 2014 ALA President's Citation for Innovative International Library Projects

Las Vegas, July 1 2014 – The Jagodina Public Library was awarded for its innovative library project at the American Library Association annual conference in Las Vegas, USA.

The president of ALA, the oldest and biggest library association in the world, Barbara Stripling handed out the award to Vesna Crnković, the director and the initiator of the awarded project.

This multi-award winning project of renovating and developing rural libraries was initiated in 2010 so that rural residents in the Jagodina municipality, who are predominantly engaged in agricultural production, can have access to information important for the improvement of production, increase of their income and better life in rural areas, and has had a significant success.

The Jagodina Public Library and its five village library identified community needs and developed creative programs to help community development“, as said by ALA. Other awarded libraries were:  the Public Library Fran Galovic,’Koprivnica in Croatia; the ZLB Library, Berlin in Germany and State Library of Queensland in Australia.

This award is the culmination of the success of the project and we hope that in the future, it will be an example to other librarians how to adapt this project services to the needs of residents in their rural communities. Once more, I thank the International Relations Round Table (IRRT) for recognizing the values of the project Agricultural Libraries in Jagodina, all librarians in the Jagodina Public Library, partners, volunteers, farmers who have built  and implemented the project Agricultural Libraries in Jagodina with a lot of love and enthusiasm“, said  Vesna Crnković, the director of the Jagodina Library.

The idea of village agricultural libraries from Jagodina reached Lithuania, Latonia, Macedonia, where the project services have been offered to farmers to sell their produce through the Internet, find information about current subsidies and opportunities for cooperation, and sharing experiences with other farmers and experts.

The project was awarded for social integration by ERSTE in 2013, by American organization Beyond Access for Innovation and for availability of knowledge and information at the World Summit on Information Society in Geneva last year.

American Library Association was founded in 1876 u Philadelphia. It encourages development, promotion and improvement of libraries and library profession. The ALA Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects was established in 2008 by the past president of ALA Dr. Lorraine Roy for projects outside the United States that emphasize uniqueness and sustainability and improve library services, serving as a model for other libraries worldwide.

Text by:
Dušan Lopušina, Executive Group, PR agencija; +381 60 707 1085

Monday, May 19, 2014

She Took Farmers to the Library

In an article about successful women leaders in Serbia in a magazine Blic Zena, the director of the Jagodina Library says that being a director does not just involve purchasing books and moaning about not having enough money to buy some more. Vesna is a director who introduced computers and the Internet in village libraries and ICT training for more than 200 farmers.
"When I became a director eight years ago, village libraries in our municipality were in very poor condition. Even people, who worked there, did not get their salaries."
She decided that it was a time for changes and figured out how to do it.
“”The local government could not help us with starting the project, but I heard about EIFL and their call for innovative projects proposals and I knew that the right thing was to apply for the $30,000 award. And we won it.
When we started the project and organized first ICT training, nobody showed up because people were watching an important football match and simply didn’t want to miss it. That was a defeat for us, but we didn’t give up.
We managed to bring distinguished university professors to talk about blueberries, strawberries, cherries…Farmers who visited the lectures, recommended to each other certain fruit or vegetable varieties and that is how Rade Damjanovic, agricultural engineer, suggested us to organize a lecture where he would talk about paulownia.
With the support from Beyond Access, the project is supposed to be expanded to 17 more libraries in Kragujevac, Jagodina, Vranje, Aleksinac and Leskovac.
Vesna says that she is proud of and its section online marketplace where farmers can buy and sell. There are nearly 300 members who regularly sell their produce.

"Working on big projects, such as Agrolib involves a lot of overtime work, even from home, but I manage to be successful in it due to my family’s support, "concludes Vesna.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Letter of Appreciation to the Jagodina Library

On Sunday, 13th April the Beekeepers Association Bagrdan from the village of Bagrdan marked the 20th anniversary.  On that occasion, the library hosted an agricultural lecture Fast development of bees for acacia grazing. The speaker was Miljko Sljivic, whose lectures are always well-presented and interesting. Also, friends, associates, sponsors and donors of the Beekeepers Association received Letters of Appreciation as a symbol of cooperation and mutual respect.

The Jagodina Library has had cooperation with the Association since the opening of the Bagrdan library in 2010. They are beneficiaries of the services of both the village library and the town library. The Letter of Appreciation they gave to the Jagodina Library is a confirmation of the success of the Agricultural libraries project.

The president of the Beekeepers Association, Branko Milanovic, addressed the audience and expressed his satisfaction regarding the cooperation with other beekeepers associations, donors and sponsors and to the Jagodina Library on whose support the existence of the Association depended at some points in the past.

Milija Brajkovic, a beekeeper from the village of Lovci, talked about the history of their Association which was founded in 1994. The members are not only beekeepers from Bagrdan, but also from neighboring villages, i.e. the entire municipality. This Association is the only village beekeepers association who is a member of The Serbian Federation of Beekeeping Organizations.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Agricultural Libraries in Serbia

Beyond Access, local governments of Kragujevac, Vranje, Rekovac, Aleksinac and Jagodina and Serbian Ministry of Culture and Information are interested in supporting the project Agricultural Libraries in Serbia. The project would be developed according to the model of the project that has been implemented in the village libraries in the municipality of Jagodina for more than three years.

The project Agricultural Libraries includes modern village libraries available to all residents in rural areas.
 Megan Volk, the deputy director of IREX's Bibliomist program, visited the Jagodina Library as a representative of Beyond Access.
She visited the City Council of Jagodina, which has been a partner of this organization for more than two years. Ratko Stevanic, the Major of Jagodina, met with the Jagodina Library director and Megan Volk. He expressed his satisfaction with the idea that organization such as Beyond Access is a partner to the City Council. Megan Volk praised this cooperation and the project by the Jagodina Library and expressed readiness to continue the cooperation.

„Beyond Access is an initiative that believes libraries can be a good partner for economical and social development of the community. It brings together libraries, governments and civic societies from 30 countries around the world and Agricultural Libraries is one of the most impressive projects. I am here to explore what local communities and partners can contribute to the implementation of the project and on the other hand what our contribution could be. Our aim is to develop resources, share experiences from other countries and work together on the project, so we can improve lives in the communities”, said Megan during her visit to the City Council of Kragujevac.

The meeting was hosted by Dobrica Milovanovic, the member of the City Council in charge of international cooperation, Slavica Djordjevic, Assistant to the Major for cultural heritage protection and urban planning. Mirko Demic, director of the Kragujevac library, Vesna Crnkovic, director of the Jagodina library and Jelena Rajic, the project coordinator attended the meeting.
Afterwards, Megan Volk had the opportunity to visit two rural libraries in the Kragujevac municipality, Cumic and Stragari, which will be included in the project.

On the same day, the Jagodina Library hosted a meeting for director s of libraries and representatives of local governments that will be future project participants. The discussion was focused on the needs on local communities and what kind of support local governments could offer.
„I saw that a good work was done in the libraries I visited. This project is one of the best in the world, said Megan Volk for RTS, national TV station.
On the next day, Megan Volk visited one of the rural libraries in the Jagodina municipality. It was the library in Bagrdan where she was warmly welcomed by farmers and other users of this library.

The most important meeting for the realization of the project in other Serbian libraries took place at the Ministry of Culture and Information where possible future cooperation of Beyond Access and the Ministry of Culture was discussed.

Dejan Risitc, a state secretary expressed his satisfaction and readiness to start a partnership and told Megan Volk and the director of the Jagodina Library that it would be very important to start the activities for the realization of this cooperation.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Two agricultural lectures on modern cultivation of strawberries and cherries delivered at the central library and a rural library

On Saturday, 15 February, hosted by the jagodina Public Library and within the award-winning project of the development of rural agricultural libraries, there were two lectures on modern cultivation of strawberries and cherries. The speaker was Dr Mihailo Nikolic, a professor of fruit growing at the Agricultural Faculty in Belgrade.

The first lecture was hosted at the central library and the participants were strawberry growers and people interesting in this business. The audience was very attentive and took active participation in the discussion with the speaker. The lecturer highlighted that the region where Jagodina is situated- Pomoravlje is very suitable for strawberry growing and encouraged farmers to continue with their production, or to increase it, but also to connect with other producers so they can jointly offer their produce to fruit wholesalers.

After the lecture in the town, the Bunar library hosted a lecture on modern cultivation on cherries, for cherries growers from Bunar and neighboring villages, who had the opportunity to hear the prominent speaker talking about planting, growing, harvesting in modernized ways. The reading room of the Bunar library was too small to accept all farmers who were interested in this topic.

 Both lectures were very useful for fruit growers in  the Jagodina municipality,  because of  the open discussions after the lectures where the attendees could consult with the lecturer, hear good advise, examples, recommendations, etc.

Some of the participants in the lectures pointed out how they would never have a chance to talk to great experts directly if it weren't for the library.

 The aim of such lectures is to encourage farmers to start agribusiness or to improve their own farming methods.

Friday, February 14, 2014

In the Spotlight, a radio program & Agricultural Libraries in Jagodina

In the Spotlight is a program at the national radio station Radio Beograd 1 from Belgrade that, by selecting speakers and topics, contributes to the affirmation of a positive way of thinking, encourages people to have a creative attitude towards reality, helps those in need. It is in line with current social events and challenges. Every day, there is a discussion with exerts, leaders, participants related to important issues.
Modern agricultural production involves the use of technology in order to make farming much easier and profitable. However, in Serbia production is performed in exactly the same way as three or four decades ago. In this week's program, on 13 February, the focus is on helping farmers acquire the necessary knowledge-economic, technological, scientific and practical.

The guests in the studio were Advisor for Agriculture to the President in Serbian Chamber of Commerce-Vojislav Stankovic ; Director of the Institute of Agricultural Economics-Drago Cvijanovic and the Editor of the website Gosnjic. The Director of the Jagodina Library was telephoned and broadcast live.

She discussed ICT training for farmers conducted at the village libraries and possibilities for farmers to find necessary information available on the Internet.

The creators of the program wanted Mrs Crnkovic to be a part of the discussion because the services at the modern agricultural villages in the Jagodina municipality serve as an example of good practice.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Computer training for farmers continues

The computer training for farmers continues in 2014. This time, at the Glavinci Library for seven farmers.
This model of training was encouraged by the idea of integrating rural residents into social and economic life of the community. The interest at the village libraries in acquiring basic computer skills is very big and the ICT lecturer Bojan Novcic highlights that this group of farmers is eager to learn how to use computers independently. Therefore, they come to the library between the lectures, so they revise what they learned.

Farmers' expectations are not very high when it comes to ICT technologies in general, but as soon as they start learning how to type, use an email, browse the Internet, copy and save documents, photos,etc, they realize how ICT can contribute to their well-being and change their lives.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

With a Computer in a Field - a newspaper article

The media interest in the project Agricultural Libraries by the Jagodina Public Library does not cease.

This time, the daily newspaper Politika published an article With a Computer in a Field with the aim to introduce the situation in rural areas and how farmers benefit from agricultural services at the village libraries.

They write about three AgroLib online marketplace users: Ljiljana Vulic, who sells all her handicraft produce through the Library’s marketplace to customers from other towns in Serbia; Rade Damjanovic, who is an agricultural engineer, and started using the AgroLib services and is now engaged in fruit growing and gives advice to other growers online and Milija Brajkovic, who uses Internet to sell his honey with great success and passes on important information he extracts on the Internet to his fellow beekeepers.

According to the statistical data there are 326 village libraries in Serbia, out of which 132 have computers. Only 18 village libraries have Internet access and it is almost unbelievable that only 12 of them provide Internet access to their users. Majority of rural residents are ICT illiterate and in numerous villages it is impossible to set up Internet.

As for the Jagodina Library, it was very unusual that until the project started in 2010, there used to be no farmers who were the Library beneficiaries. Today, farmers in five villages are regular at the libraries. They either use computers to search for information online, or to read agricultural newspapers, or simply to gather at the libraries.