Digital age a new role and new opportunities for public libraries
200 delegates from over 27 countries taking part at the ECEI10 meeting held in Brussels, came to the conclusion that the role of the librarian will not longer be a mere book collector, but instead a guide through Internet. They also suggest that public libraries communicate more about the added value they can offer.
The European Congress on e-inclusion (ECEI10) “Delivering a digital Europe in public libraries", an official conference organised by the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, took place on 20 and 21 September in the Flemish Parliament in Brussels. ECEI10 Congress has been organised within the framework of the European Year of Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion as well as in the context of the new Digital Agenda for Europe, as high on the agenda of both of these policies is to look at and respond to the challenges and opportunities brought about by an increasingly digital age and what social, cultural and economic benefits they bring.
The programme looked at a range of areas including the opportunities public libraries have to bridge the digital divide, the role they can play to increase accessibility of services and information as well as their role in supporting digital literacy programmes. In this task, the participants came to the following conclusions:
- The public library offers major added value and this should be made clear to the outside world.
- The librarian will be given a new role as a guide who makes users familiar with the internet and how they can use the web to learn new skills. The users and their questions are the focal point.
- The public library should look beyond its borders and enter into partnerships in which everyone can contribute their own knowledge and skills.
E-inclusion Conference was also the occasion for the award of the international Jodi Awards to the most accessible site, which this year went to Berlin für Blinde, an innovative and extremely accessible website that offers the visually impaired new ways of visiting Berlin.