From creating online magazines for youth to holding group exercise classes using Wii video game consoles, libraries around the world are harnessing technology to develop innovative programs for their communities.
EIFL recently announced the winners of its Innovation Awards for libraries with new and innovative technology programs in six different areas, including open government, health, and social inclusion. Biblioteca Publica San Javier-La Loma was one of six libraries to win an EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme award for Creative Use of ICT in Public Libraries. The library is a branch of the Public Library System of Medellin, a Beyond Access Member.
The community of San Javier-La Loma, located outside Medellin, has a population of around 25,000, and yet it has not been represented on any map for more than 40 years. Not wanting to remain invisible, the local library initiated a community mapping project that set out to map the entire town using open source mapping software. As part of the program, community members attached cameras to balloons to gather aerial images of the community. More than 400 people participated, and the map of San Javier-La Loma is now more detailed than any part of Medellin. It is available for access and editing online.
Five other libraries also won in this award category:
- The Rijeka City Library in Croatia publishes an online magazine written by local youth to foster creativity in young people and help them connect to one another.
- The Tallinn Central Library in Estonia has established an e-lending center with hundreds of books in the Estonian language. Users can access the books on computers, tablets, smartphones, and e-readers.
- The Buruburu branch of the National Library Service in Kenya connects students from rural schools in Kenya to students in Uganda using the mobile phone network. The Kisumu branch brings e-books to children who would normally not have access to them, such as children in hospitals and daycare centers. The Kenya National Library Service also participates on a Beyond Access Member Team with Maria’s Libraries and Busia Community Library.
- The Olsztyn Municipal Public Library in Poland has an ICT lab where users can work with design software to do everything from compose music to build robots. The library works with many disabled youth to take advantage of the lab.
- The Pietrari Local Public Library in Romania uses Wii fitness consoles to hold exercise classes in the library and help users create their own fitness program.