BULGARIAN LIBRARIES – ACCESS POINTS TO INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION FOR ALL
Sofia, 28 May 2009. The Ministry of Culture and the United Nations Development Programme announced today the nationwide Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria Programme supported by a USD 15 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria is designed to facilitate access to information, knowledge, communication, e-contents and community services through Bulgaria’s public libraries network. Within five years, the program aims to increase library usage throughout the country and help Bulgarian citizens integrate into the global information society. Public libraries are expected to expand their reach and activities, becoming more attractive places for visitors and playing an increasingly important local development role. The program will support fund-raising and advocacy to help public libraries gain recognition as agents of change and knowledge resource centers.
Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria will rely on the joint efforts of central government, the local authorities and the non-governmental sector for successful implementation and sustained results. The Ministry of Culture is the lead organization for the program. Other key program partners are the State Agency for Information Technology and Communications, the Bulgarian Library and Information Association, and the National Association of Municipalities. UNDP will act as the program implementing agency.
The planned total program budget is USD 50 million, which includes the foundation grant, an estimated USD 6 million software donation from Microsoft Corp., and a matching contribution of USD 29 million from central and local government agencies.
Glob@l Libraries – Bulgaria will ensure free information and communications technology (ICT) equipment and Internet use for the public in 900 public libraries in towns and villages across the country, and will strive to additionally mobilize resources for ICT equipment for 700 more libraries. Approximately 3,000 library workers from 1,600+ libraries will be trained in IT skills, provision of modern library services and library management. The program shall have a balanced geographic spread to help bridge the socio-economic disparities within and between regions in Bulgaria.
As a result of the combined efforts of local communities and the key program partners, the program shall help modernize Bulgaria’s public libraries striving to establish in the public space the image of the new library – one that provides a free package of services including computers and access to the Internet for users, on-line information, local e-content, computer and information literacy training for library visitors, implementation of community projects, space for community work and events, response to specific user needs (children, unemployed people, entrepreneurs); as well as a welcoming environment and client-oriented librarians.
The full support through foundation funding for a planned target of 900 libraries will include: ICT equipment for visitors, a comprehensive training program for library staff, and participation of the library in advocacy, networking, public relations and promotion activities. The software needed for the ICT equipment will be donated by Microsoft.
The partial support through foundation funding for 700 more public libraries will entail: inclusion in the training program and participation in the program’s advocacy, networking, public relations and promotion activities. The program team and the program board will continuously monitor the availability of national and international funding sources that could be used to supplement the grant provided by the foundation and the respective matching cost-sharing from central and local government budgets.
The Global Libraries Initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is working to open the world of knowledge, information, and opportunity to many more people. Part of the Global Development Program, Global Libraries works with select countries that demonstrate a need and a readiness to help public libraries provide free access to computers and the Internet, and training on how to make full use of these tools. Microsoft is a partner of Global Libraries and donates software to partners who request it. The initiative is working to transform public libraries into vital resources that can help improve the lives of millions of people.
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The Bulgarian Ministry of Culture assumes responsibility for the organization, coordination and methodological guidance of public libraries in Bulgaria. Among the activities of the Ministry are also the coordination of the state policy for the Chitalishte network and amateur art development, art and culture high schools and the cultural integration of the minorities.
The State Agency for Information Technology and Communications (SAITC) spearheads the state policy in the sphere of information technologies, telecommunications and the information society in Bulgaria. The agency expànds the national system of public access points to the global net and safeguards information security.
The Bulgarian Library and Information Association (BLIA) is a non-governmental organization founded in 1990. The organization has 1211 individual members, 82 collective members and 17 regional units. Among its priorities is to design and defend the position of the members on the development and implementation of the national library and information policy.
The National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria (NAMRB) is a non-profit organization established in 1996. The association strengthens the role of municipalities in local governance and their representation at national level. The NAMRB holds a variety of trainings and consultations to municipalities, and itself develops projects under different programs.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the UN’s global development network with presence in 166 countries around the world. The UNDP Country Office in Bulgaria was established in 1992 and has implemented more than 70 projects for close to USD 200 million. UNDP Bulgaria is committed to advancing social inclusion and reducing poverty, raising the quality of life and promoting good governance – all enabling the country to meet the development challenges facing a member state of the European Union.
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For further information and more details:
Ministry of Culture:
Mr. Ventsislav Velev, Director, Regional Cultural Activities Directorate
tel. (+359 2) 94 00 933
United Nations Development Programme:
Ms. Maya Nyagolova, Director Public Communications
tel. (+359 2) 96 96 167
Programme Management Unit:
Mr. Trendafil Meretev, Programme Manager
tel. (+359 2) 98 99 088