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Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

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.

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“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

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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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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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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!

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We are happy to greet you from the sunny Crimea! This is where Young Library Leaders School is taking place. The event was organized as part of a cooperative agreement between Bibliomist-Crimea and Bibliomist-Lviv.

The event opening took place in the Crimea Republican I.Franko Universal Scientific Library, Simrefopol and then the librarians moved to Alushta, where the main part of the Leaders School is taking place. The librarians participated in a series of trainings on leadership, strategic planning, advocacy, grant proposal writing, assessment of community needs, effective presentations and social media held by Bibliomist staff, a Ukrainian Library Association (ULA) representative, and invited trainers.

At the training on leadership the participants practised “sincere listening” to colleagues in order to correctly interpret messages, avoid bias, and get rid of a “nothing depends on me” position. At the grant proposal writing session the participants learned about the main elements of a proposal, learned to understand a donor’s specific requirements, define a problem, set a goal, objectives, and methods of solving the problem.

Problems identified by librarians are lack of funding for non-librarians working at libraries (IT specialists, sociologists, psychologists) under current legislation, introduction of paid services, lack of funding for library buildings renovation. At the training on advocacy and strategic planning the participants learned to define an advocacy “target,” identify partners, allies, opponents and draft an advocacy plan in order to solve the defined problems.

The librarians mentioned an interesting advocacy example of a library that, after repeated attempts to contact a politician who had promised funding for a library building renovation, posted “Deputy Promised, but Did not Fulfill” and “Think Who You Choose” posters in its hall and stated that thus the politician had lost 21 thousand votes (7,000 of library users x 3). As a result, the politician provided the necessary funding.

The bottom line defined by the participants is that many library innovations are risky, but if librarians never try to change the situation, the change will never come about.

Lviv and Crimea librarians, representatives of the West and East of Ukraine, traditionally divided by language (Ukrainian and Russian respectively) differences got along perfectly well with each other, participated in mixed groups work and effectively communicated. One of the best indicators of training success is that participants were too carried away with training activities to come up to organizers for travel reimbursements!

One more day of trainings is ahead of us and we do hope to keep the spirit up, we will keep you posted!

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Galina Konashko, Director of Molodaya Gvardia Library talks to her colleagues in Kyrgyzstan

In January, we blogged  about IREX’s work in  supporting library development through the US Embassy funded Digital Youth Dialogue project in Kyrgyzstan (Working with Kyrgyz Libraries). It has been less than five months since three libraries in southern Kyrgyzstan received their first IT trainings and were connected to the internet but they are already breaking new ground by using those skills. IREX is always trying new ways to connect people who could learn from each other. An example of this kind of a connection is a recent Skype call that took place on April 21 between libraries in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. For 11 librarians from Kyrgyzstan this was their first international video-conference experience. They were connected with the director of Molodaya Gvardialibrary, Galina Konashko. Her library is one of the Global Libraries program grantees and she is always excited and eager to share their knowledge and experience with others. The head of Library & Informational Consortium of Kyrgyzstan, Rosa Sultangazieva also joined this call. This call proved to be helpful as libraries in Kyrgyzstan started applying some of the new knowledge they gained in their work:

Librarians in Jalal-abad talk to Galina Konashko, Director of Molodaya Gvardiya library in Kiev

  •  Galina Konashko addressed questions from her colleagues during the conference call and spoke about methods and activities they use to partner with different organization in the area of education and youth as well as electronic catalogs that library uses. Kyzyl-Kia and Jalalabat libraries were very much interested in developing their own electronic catalog. Skype call with Konashko and learning about Molodaya Gvaridya’s electronic catalogs inspired them to intensify their work on this and currently Jalalabat Library is looking for funding to purchase a server for cataloging.
  • Also, after talking to Konashko libraries started revising their reporting system and are now trying to transfer their reports into more attractive form and make it more visual using Power Point presentations. For example, the Jalalabat library staff will make their division report presentations at their May staff meeting in Power Point form.
  • Participants from Kyrgyzstan were able to visit Molodaya Gvardiya’s website which was useful to them as they are currently developing their own website. After careful review of Molodaya Gvardiya’s website, the library now plans to include a blogging space into their website in order to be able to better facilitate two-way communicate with their patrons.

Thanks to the internet connection, librarians in Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine can now communicate with their colleagues abroad and continue exchanging information and resources that will help make library services better and more relevant to their patrons.

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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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