The overall objective of the project was to facilitate socio-economic activity of local inhabitants in Ludza, Rokiškis and Jēkabpils municipalities thus contributing to improvement of living conditions in the border region of Latvia and Lithuania.
By realising the project activities, the partners (Ludza Municipality (Lead partner), Juozas Keliuotis Rokiškis District Municipal Public Library (Project partner 2) and Jēkabpils Municipality (Project partner 3)) wished to create conditions that would increase social and economic activity of families in 3 deprived communities Ludza (Latvia), Rokiškis (Lithuania) and Jēkabpils (Latvia) municipalities. Different families would receive practical information about various spheres of life; they would learn new things about organisation of the society in their municipalities. The partners believed that in such a way they could increase local inhabitants’ interest and in educational, in social activities taking place in their municipalities, thus creating the basis for their socio-economic development, improving living conditions in a part of the Programme’s area in the future.
In reality, as it had also been planned, the largest part of the realised project activities was focused on families with children living in Ludza (Latvia), Rokiškis (Lithuania) and Jēkabpils (Latvia). In total, 122 activities or events were carried out by the partners’ libraries for local families, two of them being joint ones, i.e., with participation of some families from all three partners’ areas. Those activities were entertaining and educating at once and related to different topics, which are important in our life: literature, music, sport, health, family, cartoons, films, business, active leisure and so on. In total, the partners’ libraries involved 1722 persons into the project activities, organised in form of lectures, master-classes, visits to companies and organisations, meetings with interesting and popular people, games, competitions, quests, practical workshops in painting, cooking, etc.
Project specific objective “Creation of family-friendly libraries”
The libraries, which wanted to become family-friendly, were Ludza Library, Juozas Keliuotis Rokiškis District Municipal Public Library (further in the text – Rokiškis Library) and Jēkabpils City Library. In order to achieve the given specific objective these libraries organised activities named “Family Time”. The libraries chose topics themselves and made a poster inviting anyone interested (but especially families with children) to come on a specific day and to spend time learning, doing something together, playing games. It had been planned that each partner would organise 38 Family Times (in total, 114), but in reality, there were 120 Family Times. As it was mentioned before, topics of these activities were very different. There were on-line meetings, workshops, quests in parks, activities related to some holidays. One of the unique Family Times was a camp for single parents “Two is a Family” organised by Jēkabpils Library.
In addition to the Family Times, 2 joint events for families were carried out – 2 large family festivals “HOME” were organised by Ludza Library and Rokiškis Library): one in Ludza and one in Rokiškis. About 30 persons (parents/grandparents with children) representing each partner took part in each festival. During the festivals, the participants played games, danced, watched puppet-theatre performances, took part in concerts, flashmobs and experiments (e.g., painted on the water). For some children, that was their first trip abroad.
The libraries have improved their premises and acquired new equipment to create more comfortable conditions for families, especially for young mothers with small children. It is believed that people only come to the library to borrow a book or to give it back, when it is read. But in reality, the library is something much larger and can become more significant. Young mothers can come to the library with their babies, and while a baby or a larger child is playing with toys, his/ her mother can communicate with other mothers. Or, sometimes parents come with two children, and while the larger one is choosing books for reading, the smaller child can play with the parents. For such everyday situations, premises in Rokiškis Municipal Public Library were repaired, IT and other equipment, furniture, toys and games were bought for all the partners’ libraries. Air-conditioning was improved in Ludza Library. Ludza Municipality and Jēkabpils municipality purchased baby changing stations for their libraries taking part in the project. After the project implementation, the libraries offer comfortable and pleasant conditions for families will be a place of socialisation and communication, where people can feel equal.
With help of the new furniture, baby care equipment it became possible to offer such a thing as GAME hours – parents can come with their small children and spend time in the library.
Intensification of cooperation between the partners’ librarians and development of their capacity
As it was written in the project application, “Sharing experience and continuous education and qualification improvement are essential in any work. Modern libraries resemble more reference or information centres and leisure time clubs, where people can come for advice, information, data or to spend time with friends using modern IT. In order to conform to inhabitants’ requirements, librarians should constantly improve their qualification acquiring new skills”. In order to organise improvement of the partners’ librarians’ qualification and to intensify cooperation between them, 3 seminars and a study trip to Finland were organised during the project. Joint or collaborative learning ensures more efficient results – when learning together, people communicate, discuss the same problems and issues, they share their impressions and opinion at these activities.
The topics of the seminars were: “X, Y, Z and A generations: challenges for employers, parents and pedagogues”, “Digital addiction” and “Digital communication”.
At the final period of the project, partners’ librarians and some municipal employees took part in the study trip to Helsinki, Finland.
In total, 83 specialists (mostly, librarians of Ludza municipality, Rokiškis district and Jēkabpils municipality) participated in qualification improvement activities of the project.
Raising awareness of local inhabitants with help of a gaming platform
During the project, the librarians collected information for creation of a game platform HOME. It includes data on organisations, services, institutions in the partners’ towns, information about the historical and cultural sites. Later, software was developed and now it is available for usage in touchscreen displays in the partners’ libraries. This platform is accessible to anyone who visits the library, and will be used by librarians in organising activities for local children.