Posts Tagged ‘Bibliomist’

IT programming is one of the most rapidly growing professions in Ukraine and in the world. Recognizing this reality, a patron of the Hersta Central Raion Library has offered free IT lessons to schoolchildren. The initiative, led by retired IT teacher Illya Avasyloae, seeks to create an IT school at the library where children can learn PHP, HTML, and CSS program coding.

The initiative started in September 2012, when Avasyloae volunteered to start offering free basic software lessons at the library on the weekends. Since then, the classes have become one of the most popular services of the Hersta Library.

Illya recognized the potential of the library as a place to host the IT school. After discussions with Olena Myhai, the library director, he received her full support for the project. “This project gave us an opportunity to convene school kids for fun and learning during their out-of-school time,” said Olena.

The courses are offered free of charge to the community and there are no prerequisites or required readings. The course it is aimed to attract children that are interested in learning PHP programming and provide them with a solid foundation in the PHP language through theory and practice.



“We wanted to and get the children to the library to show them that computers are not just toys, but that they can create with them. Since the computers already have all the necessary software, the only thing that you really need is someone that tells them how to use them,” said Avasyloae.

Avasyloae and Myhai have great plans for the IT school. Along with the students, they plan to create a web portal for the town of Hertsa to feature content on local history, notable residents, and art. “My plan is to reach out to local authorities to gather support for the initiative. We can provide them the website for free if they support the IT school in other ways,” he mentioned.

IT skills are becoming increasing important in the era of digitalization and technology. Initiatives such as the Hertsa IT School are one of the many ways in which libraries are helping citizens develop valuable skills for the future.


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Modern libraries in Ukraine strive to provide services and workshops that address essential community needs, from increasing electoral literacy to promoting healthy lifestyles. Many of the most successful of these initiatives are those implemented in partnerships with NGOs. In October, Bibliomist held a forum in Kherson with librarians and NGO professionals to create a platform to share these experiences and best practices, and promote increasing and ongoing partnerships between libraries and NGOs.

Many libraries in Ukraine are unaware of the existing opportunities to collaborate with NGOs, and others lack the experience to develop new projects through out-of-sector partnerships. Similarly, NGOs acknowledge that they have not sufficiently reached out to libraries as an ally for promoting their causes and sharing information with the public.

More than 50 civil society representatives, including librarians, participated in the event. During the forum, libraries and NGO professionals came to understand how they can partner effectively to provide valuable services and information to the public. For example, the Mediation Group, an NGO committed to promoting peaceful interactions and reducing conflict sparked the interest of several libraries that hope to host workshops on conflict resolution techniques for children from orphanages and vulnerable groups. Several libraries were also inspired by the environmental promotion work of Kherson’s Yednannia Foundation and health promotion work of Mykolaiv’s Indigo Foundation, and have already initiated plans to host information and outreach activities in their communities.

Librarians from Mykolaiv, Kherson, Kirovograd, and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts were inspired by the NGO Ukrainian House and the book donation and exchange campaigns that it has held with other libraries, and hope to replicate the partnership in their communities. “In villages and towns, libraries are becoming the only cultural center; they need a lot of input from different organizations,” concluded H. Dolnyk, director of Ukrainian House.

Ms. Petrenko, from the NGO Youth Center for Regional Development has partnered with libraries to promote hum


an rights awareness, and she reflected on the valuable role that libraries play in supporting her Center’s work: “We are using libraries’ technical resources and facilities for educational trainings on human rights. We are now stocking the library with legal literature to hold regular trainings for youth.”  Petrenko added: “We are always open to new partnerships and we will be happy to support initiatives of librarians because they know what needs to be done in their community.

The forum proved that libraries and NGOs are eager to work together to launch common projects and initiatives. As these partnerships continue, the Bilbiomist program will continue to share success stories to inspire the development of similar partnerships in other regions of Ukraine.


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Library space design has been a challenge for many Ukrainian libraries. Often hosted in old buildings with uncomfortable furniture and no heat in winter, many libraries do not come across as cozy and welcoming spaces to their users. Frequently an open layout of shelves and tables is overlooked, which contributes to the “unwelcome” look of libraries filled with stacks of books instead of  space for users to socialize, hold meetings and serve as a “third space.” These issues are key factors affecting library visitation in Ukraine.

The librarians visited the new Philological Library at the Free University in Berlin.

Fortunately, many Ukrainian librarians recognize the importance of modern library space design, and Vinnytsia Regional Scientific Library is leading an initiative to address these challenges. The Designing for Harmony and Success project  (http://bit.ly/H5TO1G) is focused on the modernization of the library’s space through researching best international and Ukrainian practices, compiling the findings into a handbook, and offering training for Ukrainian librarians. To do this, the library has already forged partnerships with local designers, as well as the city public library in Berlin, Germany.

I had an opportunity to accompany a Learning Library project team headed by library director Natalya Morozova on a study trip to Germany on March 13-15, 2012. Taking advantage of the existing partnership with the Central City and Regional Library in Berlin (also known as ZLB, http://bit.ly/HfPmKu), the Ukrainian librarians traveled to Berlin to learn more about German libraries and their design, meet with leading library interior designers and architects to collect information and gain even more inspiration to implement innovative library space design methods back home and transform Ukrainian libraries into more vibrant, welcoming spaces for users.

Over three working days the group visited nine German libraries, including eight in the city of Berlin and one outside the city, in Eastern Germany, in a small town called Luckenwalde, where the library is located on the premises of a redesigned railway station: http://bit.ly/GGdjz7

Project team in Berlin Library

The Humboldt Box, part of the Humboldt Forum project, which brings together museums, Humboldt University, and the Central and Regional Library in Berlin.

One of the many highlights of the trip was visiting the public library in Adalbertstrasse in Berlin: http://bit.ly/GLq49W, which is located in a neighborhood populated by recent immigrants who often do not yet speak the language and need substantial support accessing information and overcoming a range of social challenges. The library has been recently renovated, and the architect who was responsible for this project, Ralf Fleckenstein, accompanied the group on the tour and shared design ideas, including materials, color scheme, furniture, and layout aimed at creating a welcoming space. The library served as an example of a multicultural center open for everyone, and showed us how it effectively responds to its users’ needs by providing a print collection in different languages, offering homework assistance, and holding a variety of community events. The team found this library especially interesting not only in terms of its design, but also in the services provided to the diverse local community.

The newly equipped public library in Adalbertstrasse in Berlin.

The Learning Library project team returned to Ukraine after brainstorming and identifying ways to adapt the experience to the Ukrainian context, and materials about German libraries will be included into their handbook  and training materials. One idea was to use mats on wide windowsills on the library’s top floor to attract more users with laptops to sit there and enjoy wi-fi access. Next, the team will look into changing the library floorplan to provide more space for social activities. The library will share its expertise with their colleagues at the Libraries and Community Development Fair, which will be held by Bibliomist and its partners on May 21-22, 2012 in Kyiv: http://bit.ly/GKz1wL More photos from the study trip are available on the Bibliomist Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/GLiz4e

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This is the second post about our new reporting tool in Ukraine, which uses Frontline SMS and GoogleDocs to track information that our regional representatives collect in the field.

Here is the link to Part 1

You can download the completed and documented script here.

I will now walk through the code itself and describe the purpose of each piece.  Unfortunately our blog can not currently imbed inline code, so I will just post images for the time being.  This is going to get into some basic computer code; just a warning.  If this sort of thing is new to you, these resources may be a simpler and more basic introduction to the same sort of tool that I built (first and second).  To get this tool running you will need to download a few things.  Thankfully they are all free.

  1. Download and install the latest version of Frontline:SMS
  2. Make sure you have the latest version of Python installed.  We will be working with the Google Data Python Library.  Follow the instructions found here to get things running.  You will need to have both Python and the Google Data Library.
  3. I recommend making sure that you can get a simple Python script to communicate with a Google Spreadsheet by following the hello world example, or by running some of the example programs that come with the Google Data Python Library.
  4. I also recommend making sure that you can install Frontline:SMS on your computer and get it sending and receiving text messages with your GSM modem before moving on.

Now that Frontline:SMS is up and running and you can get a Python script to connect to the Google Spreadsheet API, lets work on coding something that links the two together.  This code represents just one way to accomplish this, and is by no means perfect or optimized.  However, it does get the job done.  Open up my script (found here) with your favorite editor and lets walk through the different portions.


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Bibliomist is excited to bring together more than 450 librarians and government officials from across Ukraine on April 11 for a Library Innovation and E-governance Fair. The event aims to create an environment where librarians can share experiences about the innovative services they offer and showcase to the government and the public how libraries improve communities and better the lives of their patrons. The fair will include an exposition of more than 50 booths from libraries highlighting their innovative services, as well as organizations offering services to libraries, publishers of electronic resources and technology firms. During the exhibition, a jury of members of parliament and government officials will select a number of the most innovative services to be recognized at the closing event of the fair.  Visitors to the fair will also have a chance to vote for their favorite booth to receive the “people’s choice award”. Along with the exposition, the fair will offer a series of presentations, panels and trainings. Sessions include:

  • Libraries as Community Centers;
  • Libraries and Strategies for Cooperation with the Government;
  • Funding and Partnership Opportunities for Libraries ;
  • Sources of Electronic Government Information;
  • Ministry of Education Presentation on its Electronic System of Admission to Universities;
  • New Library Information and Outreach Channels;
  • Web 2.0 and its Uses in Libraries;
  • Library Outreach: Working with the Media;
  • Electronic Books, a Library Resource; and
  • Library Innovations Next Door: Experiences from Polish, Romanian and Lithuanian Libraries.

The event will be opened by Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, Minister of Culture Mykhailo Kulyniak, Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Libraries Initiative Deborah Jacobs and IREX President W. Robert Pearson and is co-organized with the Ukrainian Library Association, the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy and the Parliamentary Development Program.  Bibliomist is also happy to host international delegations of librarians and Global Libraries staff from Poland, Romania and Lithuania. For those that can’t make it, but would like to follow the event virtually, updates from the fair will be broadcast on twitter at #libexpoua.  The opening of the event and segments of sessions will also be broadcast online at http://gurt.org.ua/libexpo/ .

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