Our Bulgarian grantee launches "Libraries - Inspiration and Lifelong Learning for All"

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 - 11:30

Today, we would like to introduce the Bulgarian Library and Information Association (BLIA), our third grantee, and their project "Libraries – Inspiration and Lifelong Learning for All". With this initiative, BLIA aims at highlighting to politicians and decision-makers the crucial role that libraries play in Lifelong Learning (LLL), thereby creating a better environment for libraries in Bulgaria. Please find below their essay on the project - have fun reading it and get inspired!

“Libraries – Inspiration and Lifelong Learning for All”

An advocacy project for implementation of the 10th National Library Week (NLW) in May 2015

Ten years ago, the American-Bulgarian Library Exchange project gave us the opportunity to participate in the National Library Week (NLW) of the American Library Association and gain first-hand experience in its organisation. We realised that such an advocacy campaign would be very appropriate for Bulgaria: it would help us further promote the vital role of public libraries in the information society and attract the attention of government and society. The first NLW was organised in 2006. Since then, every year in May we have been focusing on specific aspects of the role of libraries and the challenges they face. A significant outcome of the first years of our systematic advocacy was the adoption of the Public Library Act in 2009.

The 2015 NLW aims to build up an understanding among politicians and decision-makers of the role of libraries in Lifelong Learning (LLL) that will lead to recognition of that role in strategic documents, improved policies and practices, and better funding for libraries. Our target groups include various stakeholders, from the Parliament (Committee on Culture and Media; Committee on Education) and the Presidency to local authorities, NGOs and communities.

Why did we choose the LLL topic? Public libraries are included in the National Strategy for Lifelong Learning as participants in the process. Funding will be provided year by year, in correspondence with the Action Plans to accompany the Strategy. BLIA is working with decision-makers in order to have libraries be well-covered in those plans.

The National Library Week is a nationwide campaign – different events will take place in villages and cities across the country. The main event and official launch of the 2015 campaign will be in Sofia and will feature a keynote speaker presentation and the BLIA Awards ceremony (for Best Librarian, Best Library and Support for Libraries Award). A National Round Table entitled "How we can support libraries to develop as LLL Centres: Let’s unite our efforts" will bring together representatives of stakeholders at national level. Local events on the same topic will be organised in at least 10 cities.

We will continue the tradition to organise hearings at the relevant parliamentary Committees and will present the potential of libraries as active players in LLL. With high-level officials of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Education and Science. we will negotiate specific tasks for libraries in the annual Action Plans of the National Strategy for LLL.

New for this year will be the use of social media for promoting the NLW. That will help us reach out to larger audiences and to promote our cause in an innovative way. The community engagement is essential for our cause. Last year, we established our "Ambassadors for Libraries" movement to involve influential and respected public figures as champions for libraries. The 2015 campaign will employ their potential to voice out citizens’ needs for strong and modern libraries.

The expected result of our campaign is adequate inclusion of libraries in the Strategy’s Action Plans for the next couple of years. The bottom line is increased funding for libraries which will empower them as vital community centres for Lifelong Learning.

The National Library Week is an initiative with a future.