“Our aim is to improve the lives of a billion “information poor” people until 2030, positioning 320 thousand public libraries of the world, in critical communities, as actives and information providers through relevant technologies.”
The Project I’M ON THE NET is a partnership between the Relational Politics Institute, the National Public Library System and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which proposes to enhance the public libraries engagement with the community and the use of information and communication technology (ICT) by the library staff to better attend the communities needs for information.
The participative methodology will be used during the project with employees and community engagement to develop together an activity plan and a Reference Guide in order that other public libraries in the country can replicate the initiative. The project foresees the fulfillment of all its activities in 12 months and in 3 different cities (Arapiraca – AL, Belém – PA and São Paulo – SP).
Public libraries in Brazil have focused on falicitate access to books and reading incentives and not in the use of ICT’s, nor to be the information center for their communities. Young people, particularly in communities on the outskirts of large cities and small towns, lack in information, communication and access to cultural initiatives, especially on information that is relevant to their local context. Public telecentres and commercial points of digital access, Internet cafes, often meet those needs, without any guidance. The community at large does not know that there are computers with internet access and much less that they may find information in the public library. Access to ICT’s in Brazil increased, but there is still a large part of the population without digital inclusion, 69% of internet users in social classes D and E, access the internet in public points of information and communication technologies. (CGI.BR (Internet Steering Committee in Brazil), 2011, p.154).
Public libraries users mainly use the book and read access services. But there is a community demand that has not been supplied which is access to information, such as Internet access service, using computers for free to search for information on how to apply for personal documents, ID card, drivers license, schedule medical consultations, develop curriculum for job search or income generation, information on women, children and disabled protection laws and other information.
The central problem is that the staff of the Brazilian public libraries are not prepared to engage with the community in order to know in depth the information needs of citizens and their context. They also, do not have skills to use ICT’s (basic computer use, internet, social media, etc.) to meet local demands for information, using and / or integrating ICT’s in their service to the community. If librarians do not get involved with the community, they won’t have knowlledge of their needs and the public library won’t be able to exercise a new role in the use of ICTs to improve life quality of these communities.
The participative methodology will be developed throughout the project with the participation of library staff and the community, especially the youth of the community in training.
The first phase of the project will be to increase engagement capability of librarians with the Community, so that they have better understanding on the context of the Community and use the participative methodology for the establishment of partnerships (with local governments, universities, NGOs, local businesses and media etc).
We will mobilize the library staff to identify their talents and demands and community members to identify their information and communication needs. Librarians will develop a participative plan of activities with the Community to be disclosed to their users. For that they will develop the mapping of relevant needs and local partners for public libraries. As a result, we will have an increase in the number of employees able to use participative methodology with the Community.
We will establish a “learning contract“: the rules that will permeate the theoretical and practical activities, such as thematic workshops, lectures, videos, group discussions, interviews and field visits.
In the second stage of the project, it will be carried out training on the use of technology to library services. The public library will increase the capacity to integrate ICTs in their services and we’ll have librarians and users trained in ICT.
It will be created a network of the libraries in the project with other partners to facilitate communication, in order to improve the information exchange , using existing platforms to integrate municipal librarians from different regions and state coordinators libraries with SNBP (National System of Public Library) .
TECHNOLOGY & EQUIPMENT
Each library will have a space (an area) where equipments and furniture will be installed for the development of the activities on the Participative Metodology Trainnings, ICT’s and Educommunication. The Library will increase it’s capacity to manage the local information with trained librarians on management.
This space will have free access to the internet with installation of Wi-Fi routers, computers with programs as demand and need of librarians and members of community. Rules will be created for it’s use and equipment maintenance .
Library staff will select a group of young users from the community in each region for the joint training (Librarians and Community) in ICT and Educommunication to collect, classify and disseminate community information through social media campaign.
The result will be a better community perception of how the library assess their information needs.
Indicator analysis of the evaluation process of the pilot project activities will result in a document.
This document will be a recommendations guide on the use of a participative methodology with the potential to generate real change in the Library staff to improve services according to population’s demands. Thisguide will serve as a parameter for other libraries to replicate the initiative.