Posts Tagged ‘development’
Back from sunny Crimea to rainy Kyiv now, but with great impressions of the Young Library Leaders’ School.
The last day of the School was dedicated to trainings on strategic planning / advocacy and monitoring and evaluation of library work. The librarians practiced their skills creating strategies for library development in small and large groups. One important point was defining advocacy targets: being very specific and not addressing a Ministry, for instance, with a particular request if decision makers of that concrete issue are regional or local politicians.
Topics discussed at the monitoring training were differences between monitoring and evaluation, criteria of efficient library work (combination of qualitative and quantitate indicators), and the importance of clear understanding of an evaluation scale.
At the closing session the librarians expressed their gratitude and stated that they were full of ideas and eagerness to start designing and implementing projects upon returning to their libraries. The first step will be holding a similar training on leadership, proposal writing, strategic planning, and advocacy in their respective libraries. Yaroslava Tytarenko, Bibliomist Capacity Development Coordinator, suggested to practice proposal writing skills and apply for Bibliomist Public Access Contest and Community Development Contest (CPC) and to keep in touch with the help of social networks.
And one of the long-term strategic goals defined by this group was to meet again at the next Young Library Leaders’ School. As we know, when leaders set a goal, they never give up!
The ICTworks blog is hosting a discussion about how telecenters are not sustainable. We agree.
IREX has been working with public access to information / telecenters for more than 15 years. In that time we’ve encountered many of the difficulties that are described. How do the telecenters continue operation after outside funding dries up? How do you embed the telecenter into the community? As our thinking on this topic has evolved over the years, we’ve begun focusing our efforts on the one existing public institution that is owned by the local community and can provide a variety of information services: the public library.
Several years back, we began implementing the Global Libraries programs in Ukraine and Romania and what we’ve discovered is that public libraries get at the sustainability question in a way that no other institution we’ve worked with has. It’s taken some time for people to move past the notion of libraries as just museums for books, but what we’ve found is that libraries are, by an appreciable margin, often the best partner for community access to information projects.
Libraries are an inherently sustainable community civic institution. They have existing relationships with local governments and typically have public funding mechanisms. Libraries are naturally accessible as they offer information access to any community member, regardless of ability to pay or social status. They belong to networks located throughout a country, often even in the smallest villages. At their best, effective public libraries are essentially local in that they respond immediately to specific, identified community needs. And most importantly, for a variety of reasons, they are already on the ground – they don’t require building something new from scratch. Despite these factors, we’ve found that many in the development field are simply uninformed of how libraries can support their projects.
Some argue that there aren’t established public library systems in many countries that are the focus of development work. We aren’t suggesting that the solution is to build libraries where there are none, but libraries are more widespread than many realize. Take a look at the IFLA World Report. You can see, for example, that Algeria has 83 community libraries and 326 reading rooms, and that Cote d’Ivoire has more than 83 public libraries. And right now there are significant access to information through public libraries projects being implemented in countries as diverse as Chile, Botswana, and Vietnam.
Even in countries where there are fewer libraries – that doesn’t mean existing libraries aren’t valuable partners for development efforts. Take a look at what can be achieved on a smaller scale when libraries are given the opportunity to address socio-economic issues. These projects are in Cambodia, Zambia, and Kenya, among others.
Big thanks to Wayan Vota and the folks who support the Technology Salon series for this morning’s event focusing on private sector partnerships. Rob Schneider, Senior Alliance Advisor, Office of Development Partners at USAID offered some of the background on the GDA strategy toward PPPs and his own take on (sometimes difficult) questions on how implementers and donors alike can approach these opportunities.
At IREX, we’re always trying to figure out better ways to purposefully connect people with the technology they need, so we have an interest in building successful partnerships with both multinationals and also local companies (for example, we recently reached a deal with MTS, a mobile provider in Ukraine to provide free 3G broadband connections for up to a year to public libraries in which wired infrastructure does not exist (read about it here).
But where I think this conversation get’s really interesting is when we talk not just about broad development strategy of negotiating the partnerships, but how these partnerships can function as an ongoing part of program implementation strategy. Implementers need to think seriously not just about how to strike a deal with their business peers, but about what type of partnerships make sense for their particular program goals. It’s a different way of thinking about the partnerships because the focus is less on just getting the capital or being able stick brand X’s logo on the website. It’s about figuring out why these relationships make sense for ongoing project sustainability.
To circle back to the MTS agreement I mentioned earlier–this is a relationship that makes a lot of sense for all sides–not just for increased market share and burnished CSR credentials in a one-off deal, but because libraries will increasingly allow service providers access to new markets and connect companies with the important kinds of information they need to better serve existing and potential customers.