table of contents
Ana Bogdanić, Ph.D. candidate
Community and Criminal Justice Unit
School of Health and Applied Social Sciences


Multiculturalism in European libraries as isolated meeting islands for marginalized groups





Multiculturalism is political view on the society that is incorporating all groups and individuals in one vivid organism where justice and equality are possible. Europe of the 21st century is exploring its limits related to immigration policies and attitude towards national minorities. Riots of immigrants in Paris revealed shadow side of European politics which did not succeed to integrate marginalized groups. As contemporary neocaplitalism comes together with privatization of universities and fall of public sector the gap between poor and others is becoming larger. On the example of some European public libraries it is possible to recognize the role that these institutions are starting to take on their shoulders as social governmental aspects of help for marginalized isolated groups is not managing to reach the core of solution.



Key words: multiculturalism, European libraries, marginalized groups

Kia Mahi Tahi tatou, kia inu ai matou (Maori language)

And share the information (English language)








The aim of this analysis is to reflect on contemporary issues which are related to European politics of multiculturalism and immigration. Multiculturalism is political view on the society that is incorporating all groups and individuals in one vivid organism where justice and equality are possible. Europe of the 21st century is exploring its limits related to immigration policies and attitude towards national minorities. Riots of immigrants in Paris revealed shadow side of European politics which did not succeed to integrate marginalized groups. As contemporary neocaplitalism comes together with privatization of universities and fall of public sector the gap between poor and others is becoming larger. On the example of some European public libraries it is possible to recognize the role that these institutions are starting to take on their shoulders as social governmental aspects of help for marginalized isolated groups is not managing to reach the core of solution. This paper will focus on detailed analysis of document named PULMAN - public libraries mobilizing advanced networks, published in 2003 by European public libraries as a result of common strategy. One of the main aims of PULMAN is social inclusion. Furthermore, this paper will question the term ‘literacy’ and what does it means to be literate in the 21st century? A strong link exists between poverty and digital gap, “digital literacy” is becoming relevant for all those who are on the margins of the society.


1. Information inequality


The role and value of public libraries in the age of digital technologies is discussed in the light of central challenges of digital society. [1] Svanhild Aabo argues that public libraries have a wide social impact on both individuals and local communities (2005). Also, Aabo thinks that there is a need to strengthen the public libraries’ democratic role in the information society by promoting social inclusiveness and active citizenship.


The change has occurred as the era of digitalization brought new standards. Also, there are more and more marginalized social groups who are excluded from digital communication and even denied the rights for basic literacy. Understanding information inequality is relevant for all individuals who are involved in struggle for social change. From practical side, there are two main characteristics of the age of digital technologies that are relevant for discussion on role of public libraries and digital communication and these are: (1) the spread of personal computers  - making their use relatively easy and cheap, and (2) the development of World Wide Web – making Internet use intuitive and easy (Aabo, 2005). Public libraries have been identified as a means of helping to narrow digital divide but updating their technological base would not be enough, notes Aabo (2005).

Social inclusion is complex process. Citizenship implies a feeling of community. The paradox of today’s digital age society is although possibilities to connect with other people through the net are enormous, society is fragmented (Aabo, 2005). When we speak about citizenship rights and integration of marginalized groups it is important to realize relevance of social inclusion. Aabo addresses this issue with following words:


“Participation and involvement in community are central issues for social inclusion…Democracy presupposes meeting places where we are confronted with other values and interests than our own and accept them as legitimate” (Aaabo, 2005, p. 208).


Researcher Liangzhi Yu, who is currently teaching at the Department of Information Resource Management of Nankai University in China views relation between information and digital gap as crucial for understanding information inequality. [2] Liangzhi Yu reveals strong connection that exists between social inequality and information resource distribution. The terms which are used for the state of social division between those who are favorably placed in information resource distribution are: information inequality, information gap, information divide, information disparity, information inequity, information rich vs. information poor, etc. (Liangzhi Yu, 2006). Liangzhi Yu mentions that definitional approaches of early studies (1960s – 1980s) were primarily categorical as they classified certain socio-economic sections of society (e.g. aged, the economically poor, ethnic minority groups, disabled people and single parents) into the area of information poor. The research that followed in 1990s was more sophisticated in its elaboration and defined information poverty as not only lack of information access but also self-imposed information deprivation (e.g. unwillingness to use libraries). Furthermore, for the person to be information rich is relevant the intellectual capital for information retrieval, not only ensured information access and personal motivation.


Contemporary situation in modern libraries of the world, not only in European public libraries reveals some social issues that are being dealt as a result of consciousness and efforts of society that is trying to accept marginalized groups and individuals. For example, National Library of New Zealand brought strategy for working with Maori people. This strategy has an outcome in document named “Te Kaupapa Mahi Tahi – A Plan for Partnership 2005 – 2010”. [3] Mohl H. John and Winston, D. Roberts claim that New Zealand has a bi-cultural foundation and a multicultural population and that “it is the public libraries which provide the main lead for new services for migrant and refugee communities” (2009, p. 55). Nevertheless, National Library of New Zealand employs the staff members from most ethnic communities in New Zealand and is moving toward development of new services in response to the needs of community (Mohl H. John and Winston, D. Roberts, 2009).


In his article entitled “Indigenous knowledge and library work in Sierra Leone ” (2006) Kargbo, Abdul John analyzes the fact how indigenous knowledge as vital information is sadly diminishing at an alarming rate in Sierra Leone . [4] Also, there is a question how application of intellectual property rights to the traditional type of knowledge is acquired. Related to this issue, Kargbo writes the following:


“Information, rather than labour or capital, is becoming the key factor in production, and knowledge, during the last few decades, has become the central capital and crucial reserve of national economies in contemporary society” (2006, p. 71).



It is interesting how information as something which is not of solid material as gold or oil has gained its importance as a capital in contemporary world. There are numerous questions that are appearing while we contemplate the meaning of information as a capital. How one can measure the price of information? How one can hold property over information? Can we argue that real democracies should not have hidden information’s that are reserved only for small elite or even some individuals? When we pose these questions we are not speaking about information’s that are of private nature and are relevant for individuals or families but we are referring on information’s that are relevant for human kind and even for a Planet Earth as a complete organism (animal world, mineral world, nature, etc.).


There are four relevant types of illiteracies of the 21st century and these are: information literacy, media literacy, multicultural and visual literacy and they are directly related to basic functioning in contemporary and future societies (Stričević, 2009). Information literacy is knowledge and capability of recognition of information’s needs and efficient usage and transfer of information’s that are in different forms such as paper, CD or other. Furthermore, media literacy is capability of decoding, conducting analysis and evaluation of accomplished communication in various forms. Multicultural literacy is more complex, “it is knowledge/accepting cultures and languages” (Stričević, 2009). Visual literacy is capability of understanding meanings of picture components by knowing basic visual elements. Also, Stričević (2009) is mentioning new form of literacy and this is multimodal literacy which is composed of all previously mentioned literacies.


2. PULMAN - public libraries mobilizing advanced networks


Public libraries recognized their role of relevant factors for social inclusion of marginalized groups and individuals. Furthermore, European public libraries made strategy plan which has it outcome in paper and electronic version and is entitled – PULMAN (public libraries mobilizing advanced networks) guidelines” (2003). It is interesting that the first section of “PULMAN (public libraries mobilizing advanced networks) guidelines” (2003) which is dedicated to social policy guidelines relates to social inclusion as relevant topic for public libraries. [5] The “PULMAN” is document that refers to contemporary issues and practical problems that European public libraries are confronted with. There are two relevant issues that according to “PULMAN” European public libraries have to deal with at the digital crossroads of 21st century and these are:


a) Social challenges, represented by a high level European social agenda

b) The potential offered by developments in the Information Society technologies (IST) which have increasingly becoming available to implement new services.


In the light of these problems, the role of public libraries has changed:


“It is likely that this is a response to a variety of phenomena including access to information via the Internet, an ever-expanding quantity of cultural media forms and content (digital TV, computer-based activities etc.) and an increase in the number of people who buy rather than borrow a high proportion of the books which they read. However, public libraries retain an important role in ensuring a literate information society.” (PULMAN, 2003, p. 3).



In the next decades the questions will be raised “about the scope of the public library network, its nature as physical plant and its presence in the virtual environment, and the type of staff and skills needed to fulfill this developing role” (PULMAN, 2003, p. 3).


The new IFLA Guidelines for Public Libraries, published in 2001, cover all the topics that are currently faced with public libraries. [6] These guidelines have been framed to provide assistance to librarians in any situation to develop an effective public library service meeting the needs of their local community. So, the key users of public library are found in the local community. [7] A distinctive feature of these guidelines is the inclusion of examples of provision from around the world. They provide snapshots of what is happening in public libraries in many different countries and a glimpse of imaginative solutions to specific challenges. These guidelines are essential reading for everyone involved in the provision of public libraries. They will become an essential reference tool for public library development and planning.


At the Lisbon Council in 2000, Europe's Heads of State and Government set the objective of becoming the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-driven economy in the world. More than 190 million registered users of public libraries in 36 countries of Europe attest to the importance and impact of public libraries in society (PULMAN, 2003). To accomplish their full potential in the digital era, public libraries must be prepared to offer new and innovative digital services that empower citizens to achieve their personal goals in a changing world and to contribute to a cohesive society and a successful knowledge-based economy in Europe .


Furthermore, the e-Europe Action Plan which was drawn up as means of achieving this goal proposed a wide range of measures to attain three overarching goals (PULMAN, 2003):


·         a cheaper, faster, secure Internet;

·         investing in people and skills;

·         Stimulating the use of the Internet.


There are 60 million people in the EU today (18% of the population) who are poor or at risk of poverty. Relative poverty varies considerably across member states, from 8% in Denmark to 23% in Portugal . Children and young people, the elderly, the unemployed and one parent families have a particularly high risk of poverty. Major structural changes are taking place in society which, although positive for most people, could lead to new risks of poverty and social exclusion for particularly vulnerable groups, including:


·         changes in the labour market due to globalization and the very rapid growth of the knowledge-based society and IST;

·         demographic changes with more people living longer and falling birth rates;

·         a growing trend towards ethnic, cultural and religious diversity as a result of increased international migration and mobility within the European Union;

·         changes in household structures with growing rates of family break-up;

·         the de-institutionalization of family life;

·         The changing role of men and women.


Digital exclusion is experienced increasingly as a real barrier for people's lives. To take advantage of e-Learning and new job opportunities in the knowledge society, digital literacy is vital. Public libraries are extremely well placed to address the challenges of the digital divide by improving the delivery of services, tackling educational disadvantage and helping to deal with demographic changes. Unemployed people need information about new job possibilities; young people need stimulating meeting places; children need enrichment programs that build on skills they are learning at school; older people need a place to find out about local news; and disabled people need an organization that will treat them with dignity and accommodate their disabilities. Public libraries are admirably suited to meet these needs: they can and should become the heart of the community (PULMAN, 2003). Lifelong Learning is becoming the guiding principle for provision and participation all across the continuum of learning contexts.


There are numerous severe risk factors that increase the danger of poverty and exclusion in Europe include: long-term unemployment; low-income; poor educational qualifications; family conflict or isolation; disability; poor health; drug abuse and alcoholism; living in an area of multiple disadvantages; homelessness; and racial and sexual discrimination. People need to feel like a part of their community. Archives and museums as well as libraries can make a significant contribution to promoting social inclusion in ways that prevent disadvantage through helping to develop personal; and community identity and empowerment. Many European countries do not yet have national strategies, relating to common European policy documents, which establish the role of public libraries in promoting social inclusion.


Public libraries, museums and archives can further help combat social exclusion by (PULMAN, 2003):


·         mainstreaming social inclusion as a policy priority within all their services;

·         tailoring specific services to meet the needs of minority groups and communities;

·         consulting and involving socially excluded groups;

·         locating services where there is a demand;

·         co-locating facilities with other services provided by the local authority;

·         providing mobile services to reach all outlying areas;

·         adopting flexible opening hours;

·         redefining the role of staff to include a more socially responsive and educational role;

·         changing the image of public libraries, museums and record offices to make them more welcoming to socially excluded groups, but without alienating traditional users;

·         forming partnerships with other NGOs and learning organizations to develop and deliver services;

·         using ICT to provide services to those not reached by buildings or mobile libraries;

·         Using ICT to provide services targeted towards the needs of socially excluded groups.


Public libraries in Europe already provide services for the following groups, although provision is by no means consistent geographically or by service type or quality:


·         Disabled people

·         Children and young people at risk of social exclusion – see risk factors

·         Older people at risk of social exclusion – see risk factors

·         Unemployed people

·         Drug addicts

·         Homeless persons

·         Refugees

·         Prisoners

·         Immigrants 

·         Ethnic and cultural minorities 

·         Persons who left school early

·         People seeking information on citizens’ rights

·         Lifelong learners 

·         Rural populations

·         Poor people

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political union of 27 member states, located primarily in Europe. [8] Within the EU there is also concern with the status of minority indigenous or autochthonous languages and there is a European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages (EBLUL) (see .) About 40 million of EU citizens are estimated to speak a different language to the majority language of the state they live in and modern social conditions are hostile to the continued use and survival of minority languages


The term official language can be used in dealings with public authorities and in official documents, including commercial documents. The official and working languages of the EU are Spanish, Danish, German, Greek, English, French, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Finnish and Swedish. This means that a citizen may write to an EU institution in any of these languages and receive a reply in the same language. Theoretically they are all equal but the de facto drafting languages of the Commission are English and French. Minority indigenous languages (heritage languages) afforded some sort of recognition in Europe (not including languages which may be a minority in one state but a majority language in another state) and these are Aragonese, Asturian, Basque, Breton, Catalan, Corsican, Franco-Provençal, Frisian, Friulian, Gaelic, Gagauz, Irish, Ladin, Macedonian, Mirandese, Occitan, Saami, Sardinian, Sorbian, Vlach and Welsh (this is not an exhaustive list).


Furthermore, no protection is given to the languages of immigrants speaking non-indigenous languages (community languages) in Europe . In practice, organizations have faced a number of difficulties in creating and maintaining multi-lingual digital content and pan-European products and services for the global networks (PULMAN, 2003). Some of these difficulties are technical and some relate to the costs and difficulties of translation. In recognition of this the European Comission has created an action line under the strategically e-Content programme to address multilingual issues.






This article reflected on contemporary issues related to European politics of multiculturalism and immigration. European public libraries are starting to play important role in terms of social inclusion for marginalized groups in society. When we speak about marginality and marginalized groups in Europe then the first ones who are threatened are immigrants. Moreover, from the document named PULMAN - public libraries mobilizing advanced networks, published in 2003 by European public libraries it is visible that public libraries have theoretical and practical experience and common strategy for dealing with issue of social inclusion. Additionally, one of the main aims of PULMAN is social inclusion. If one question the term “literacy” in the 21st century she/he must notice the strong link that exists between poverty and digital gap.  In my opinion, it is positive that public libraries have common strategy for dealing with social inclusion of marginalized groups and individuals but it seems that this is not enough. Most of examples of good practice are examples how public libraries started to be places of active social work. However, for how long they will continue with these projects that are very often financed with some time limitations and by some foundations, especially in European countries that are not so wealthy?


References: 1. Aabo, Svanhild.
The role and value of public libraries in the age of digital technologies. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, Volume 37, Number 4, December 2005, pp. 205-211.


2. European Union. URL: (9 May 2009).


3. IFLA Guidelines for Public Libraries. The Public Library Service: IFLA/UNESCO Guidelines for Development. URL: (6. svibanj 2009).


4. Kargbo, Abdul John. Indigenous knowledge and library work in Sierra Leone . Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, Volume 38, Number 2, June 2006, pp. 71-78.


5. Mohl H. John I Winston, D. Roberts. Delivering a Strategy for Working with Maori, and Developing Responsiveness to an Increasingly Multicultural population: a perspective from the National Library of New Zealand. IFLA Journal, Volume 35, March 2009, No. 1, pp. 48-58.


6. The PULMAN Guidelines, Second edition, February 2003. PULMAN – public libraries mobilizing advanced networks.


7. Scandinavian Public Library Quarterly, Number 1, 2009. Theme of the issue: Interaction with the local environment.


8. Stričević, Ivanka. Lecture at Department of Library and Information Science, University of Zadar , 2009.


9. Yu, Liangzhi. Understanding information inequality: Making sense of the literature of the information and digital divides. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, Volume 38, Number 4, December 2006, pp. 229-245.




PULMAN (2003):


“Immigrants are often preoccupied by basic economic, legal and other exigencies and it is important that they realize that the library can help with these matters among others. Librarians must know their communities and their ethnic composition and in some large cities with shifting populations this may involve some systematic monitoring. It may be necessary to conduct surveys using questionnaires to ascertain in detail what the needs of a community are. Immigrant organizations can be contacted. The library may be able to provide venues for language classes and cultural events. An immigrant community can be converted into loyal supporters and useful allies of the library service if they are approached generously and tactfully. The provision of materials in immigrant languages may well present problems which will involve the appointment of specialist staff to catalogue and process them and advise readers.”


Typically the material provided will include:


·         Material which aids cultural adjustment, majority language acquisition and material about the home culture.

·         Bilingual and children’s material.

·         Information about legal matters and local services.

·         Audio-visual material.

·         Word-processing in non-Roman scripts.





Libraries should beware of the linguistic problems of the community they serve. In particular the needs of immigrants who may lack a thorough command of the majority language should be catered for by any means which seem appropriate. In some large cities with a rapidly changing population the library will need to actively monitor the linguistic needs of its users.


The services provided may include:


·         Advice services suitable for immigrants

·         Word processing facilities in immigrant’s languages.

·         Book-stock, periodicals and audio-visual material in the appropriate languages.

·         Cultural activities may be held on library premises.

·         Websites may need to be redesigned with multilingual needs in mind.

·         Dedicated libraries may be warranted to serve the needs of a linguistic minority

·         Specially recruited staff with native command of the minority languages may be needed.

·         If the library has to serve an indigenous minority the library may have to assume a role in the preservation and documentation of an endangered culture with all that entails. Such minorities are normally fully bilingual but there may be a need to acquire comprehensive collections in the minority language and compile special catalogues and answer questions from out of the area about the local culture.




·         The most obvious way for a library service to cope with a complex linguistic situation is by means of a recruitment policy. The offer of translation services to an established local minority is clearly not an adequate response. Technology-based solutions are not likely to be of much use in the foreseeable future.

·         Libraries may have to recruit staff with a command of the languages and literatures used in their communities to help with cataloguing of materials in minority languages and services to readers.

·         Speakers of minority languages will appreciate face-to-face contact with a native speaker of their language and not merely someone with a second language command however proficient.

·         Where cultural as well as linguistic differences are important only advice from a member of a minority group will ensure good relations between a library and its readers.

·         The design of publicity material, leaflets, and the library website will be much easier and cheaper if the library’s own staffs are involved.


Provision of services for indigenous linguistic minorities.


Indigenous linguistic minorities tend not present libraries with the same challenges as do immigrants. For example:


·         They are often fully bilingual and do not require instruction in the majority language or culture.

·         There is no doubt about their numbers or permanence or socio-economic circumstances.

·         The languages of linguistic minorities may however present problems for libraries. Some minority languages are fully developed languages of culture taught in schools, with established orthographies, extensive literatures and a considerable amount of publishing. Others may lack some or even all of such attributes and it may be difficult for a library service to make provision for them.


Multi-lingual Thesauri 


A thesaurus is a set of controlled terms for the detailed subject indexing of (originally) printed documents. A thesaurus will show relationships such as hierarchy and equivalence between the terms it uses. A major problem in the construction of thesauri in more than one language is that terms in one language may not cover the same semantic fields as terms in another.



·         The English term teenager covers a narrower semantic field than the French adolescent.

·         The German Schnecke normally translated snail includes slugs and snails and therefore has no exact equivalent in English.

·         The German term Berufsverbot has no English equivalent at all and has to be paraphrased e.g. loss of the right to practice one’s profession.


There are standards for the compilation of thesauri and equivalent terms across languages - see Guidelines for Forming Language Equivalents: A Model based on the Art and Architecture Thesaurus by the Getty Information Institute (see  See also ISO 5964:1985 (BS 6723:1985) Guide to Establishment and Development of Multilingual Thesauri. This standard is an adjunct to ISO 2788 which covers monolingual thesauri and so is not complete in it, many of the problems in the construction of thesauri being common to the construction of monolingual and multilingual thesauri.


Services to immigrants


The provision of services to recent immigrants presents problems to a public library service and certain factors have to be assessed in advance:


·         The size and permanence of the immigrant community and their age, sex, marital status and educational level.

·         Their knowledge of the majority language of the society.

·         Their familiarity with the concept of a public library and what it can do for them.


Recommendation: Multilingual web-sites 


Examples of good practice in European public libraries


Library as a Community Centre


By launching this call for proposals in 1999, 2000 and 2001, the Open Society Institute: Network Library Programme has stimulated public libraries in CEE countries to be aware of the important social role which they can play in a transitional society where governments have not implemented the tools for avoiding the social exclusion of the numerous groups of population affected by the collapse of social services (URL:


Croatia - Teens for teens


Rijeka Public Library service for teenagers.



Denmark - FINFO - Information for Ethnic Minorities in Denmark


The overall aim of FINFO is to provide representatives of ethnic minorities with better access to information about their rights, obligations and opportunities in the Danish society.



Mobile libraries network



Estonia - The Central Library of Võru County

Cooperates with the Social Welfare Centre of Võru County in the field of education and initiating projects. A single parent’s society, “Tulevik”, meets once a month at the library, led by the project manager of the centre Kersti Kõosaar.  In 2002 the students of the Vocational Training Centre of Võru County provided computer training for users free of charge at the Central Library of Võru County that proved to be extremely popular. The library also mediates information about the center’s adult training activities to its users.


The Central Library of Lääne County

Provides a mobile library service for the population of coastal villages of the county ( West Estonia ). (URL:


The Central Library of Lääne County


Cooperates with the Library of Haapsalu Russian Gymnasium and societies of different nations in Estonia for acquiring literature in the mother tongue of local national minorities.



Look@World Project


Thanks to this project, involving the private sector, a number of libraries have now got Internet connections. The year 2003 should see the completion of the Minister of Culture’s public libraries “internetisation” project that aims to provide access to the Internet for all interested persons. (URL:


Finland - Mobile libraries


In Finland mobile facilities are an established part of every local library system




The Muonioo municipality book mobile


Also visits municipalities in Sweden and Norway .




Neti-Nysse (Internet Book Mobile )


Tampere City Library puts the web on wheels and takes it to the users.



Helsinki City Library


Operates »The Multicultural Library«



Information Gas Station


A library where users can ask anything via anything. Information service is available both for those who visit the iGS service point and for web customers. The iGS service point is a mobile information service booth, which is taken to where the people are: to public places, e.g. railway stations or shopping centers, fairs or service blocks. Web customers are given information service through e-mail or text messages, and also in the future with a chat technique. Web customers reach the information Gas Station through the iGS web page




New mobile libraries are serving primary and secondary schools without library facilities. The programme is funded from the Ministry of Education and is intended to contribute to the development of library services across the country. Information about the project can be found on the main web site at



Veria Public Library


The first public library in Greece to experiment with offering electronic service to people living in rural areas through |Mobile Libraries. Project was funded under E.E (libraries program). Final report can be seen at





Branching Out

Report prepared by a project team specially established by the Minister for the Environment and local Government to review public library policy in Ireland . It defines two key priorities: to ensure that Ireland moves rapidly to embrace the opportunities of the information society so as to support economic and social progress as well as more participative democracy; to establish an inclusive society in which all citizens can participate fully in the social and economic life of the country.



Mobile library services


In rural areas, suburbs, medium-sized towns and farming communities.

Kerry County Library

Mayo County Library

Fingal County Libraries                  

WebSmart - Internet Residency Programme


Dublin City Public libraries employed an Internet mentor to give a series of practical lessons to those designated as late-adopters of technology. Using free public access Internet provided by all public libraries, groups of mainly retired men and women were taken through a series of basic skills to enable them to use computers and the Internet.



Storytelling Programme in County Wexford


Programme involving schools, hospitals, and residential homes and day-care centres for the elderly, travelers and ethnic minorities.





The Association of Prison Libraries

Founded in 2000 in order to support all the people who are involved, at different levels, or deal with the management of prison libraries. It is located in Milan at the State University .




CREMISI aimed to create a network of multimedia halls in twelve National Libraries, focusing on providing training courses either for librarians, workers and citizens. It ended in 2000. An extension of CREMISI, the ABSIDE project has just been approved in the framework of the EQUAL Programme. The project aims to test how new models based on training services offered by libraries, integrating training and accompanying measures, can support activities targeting discrimination and exclusion problems. The project targets both librarians and end-users.


Latvia - Bauska Central  Library


Several computers have been installed with permanent Internet connection and a user training campaign “Know! Study! Use!’’ is targeted at senior citizens, unemployed people, housewives, disabled persons, poor people, street children, professionals who wish to obtain computer skills, and also librarians from the rural libraries.


Ogre Central Library


Has a mobile library which serves people in rural areas. Besides lending books and magazines, it provides people with impaired vision with talking books and books in Braille. Famous writers, poets, journalists, and representatives of the Information Centre of the EU have travelled with the bus to meet people living in rural areas.


Latgale Central Library


Latgale Central Library in Daugavpils, with its high level of automation, an Internet reading room and rich regional studies database provides information in all locally used languages, promotes friendly co-existence and mutual integration of the population in general, and young people in particular.  However, the Russian language is dominant in Daugavpils , as are Internet resources provided mainly via Russian portals and websites.  To change the situation and help the Russian-speaking population to join the Latvian society, and understand the official language policy, special state-organized training programmes are in progress.


Lithuania - Branch library for elderly and handicapped people


Alytus city library is situated in a part of the town inhabited by socially disadvantaged groups, with an impact on the inclusion of children from disadvantaged families.


Women Information and Training Centre (WITC)


Established in Kretinga public library. Unites women of different ages, nationalities, religions and attitudes.


Macedonia - Public library "Goce Delcev" in Shtip


Regional centre for eastern Macedonia . With Soros Foundation funding they have started a bibliobus (mobile library) serving rural areas around Shtip where many cultural activities can take place.

Contact phone no. ++389 (0)32 391 247


Moldova - Information Centre for Detainees


A subdivision of the Cricova Public Library, opened during spring 2001, this operates as a mobile service. The main purpose is to acquire special informational and documentation resources to support reading, learning and recreation for detainees from two Penitentiary Institutions from Cricova Town .

In Focus Golden Age


Traditional library service with a different approach. Its main goals are: to stimulate and integrate older people into the social and cultural life of the community; to explore their experiences and intellectual potential; to attract them into the library.




The library in the multicultural neighborhood ‘Schilderswijk’, The Hague ,

Offers special courses in the morning and has computers free for homework in the afternoon, and for local organizations in the evening. Lectures and discussion are offered on various topics including Islamic law for women.


Multicultural reading circles in Flevoland libraries


In Flevoland province, public libraries have started multicultural reading circles, especially for migrant and refugee women.


Norway – Bazar


Oslo Public Library is in the process of developing a national net-based service for minorities in Norway , called Bazar.  Bazar is intended for those with an ethnic background other than Norwegian and with a different mother tongue than Norwegian.  It is meant to be a guide to rights and obligations in the Norwegian community and endeavors to compile useful information that can make day-to-day Norway easier to understand.


EPOS - floating library.


This bookboat operates along the west coast of Norway , with its fjords and its islands and is a joint service between three county libraries.


The national virtual reference desk “”


This service started as a regional Vestfold with seven libraries taking part and later state funding was provided to invite other libraries to join in. Today, there are 14 participating libraries, with a force of 60 trained librarians. The user can chat with a librarian (Ask a librarian service), ask questions that are answered with facts, recommended literature and given links to the Internet.  This national project is directed by Vestfold county library.


Poland - Local Information Database


The service ensures access to all kinds of information about Warmia i Mazury Province and allows people to look for places or people.


Every Child is Able to do Something


The Commune-Municipal Public Library in Dobre Miasto organizes regular sessions, especially for children from dysfunctional families, organized during the winter holiday.


Russia - Legal Information Public Centre


V. D. Fyodorov Kemerovo Regional Scientific Library runs a service with the help of law student volunteers.


Library - a social centre


Central City Library Rubtsovsk has created a system for giving legal, social, regional and other information to citizens, social organizations and local authorities.


Serbia - Infobus


INFOBUS provides free access to books, CD, video, internet access etc. to rural people in the region of Prijepolje. It is organized by Prijepolje public library and supported by OSI Budapest,CIDA and  Municipal of Prijepolje.


Tea, Thursdays at Six


A weekly meeting held in Jagodina Public Library for people from all social groups to meet in a non-threatening environment.


Slovakia - Informational Centre for Unemployed


Established in Hornozemplínska library in Vranov and Topľou.


Slovenia - Youth Information Centre


The service offers space for young people from 15 to 25 years of age, where they can study, find interesting information or just relax, browse through magazines and meet with friends. Volunteers are available to help with studying or homework. The Youth Information Centre is a part of the Ljubljana youth information network called L'MIT.


The Third Life-Period University


The Third Life-Period University is organized in the scope of programmes for older and disabled people and is trying to offer a productive and pleasant usage of leisure time, prevent loneliness and strengthen positive self-image.

Celje City Library

Maribor Public Library

Life Without Prejudice


Public Library Novo Mesto runs a programme to stimulate mutual respect and understanding between Roma people and the local community.


Spain – InFormar


User Training Programme of the small Local Library FGSR of Peñaranda de Bracamonde providing free public Internet access. Provides practical lessons to those designated as late-adopters of technology to reduce social discrimination and exclusion, and also to children and adults in rural areas and elderly people to enable them to use computers and the Internet.

Digital literacy for children

User training programme for adolescents

Digital Library project for students of secondary schools: general project


Multicultural library services in Andalusia


This project is included within the framework: Regional Government’s Action Plan for the Immigration in Andalusia .

Its main objective is the implementation of multicultural information services for immigrants in the public libraries of Andalusia .


Public Libraries: a place for social inclusion


Catalan Public Libraries Group in the UNESCO Network of Associated Libraries. See: Jornadas interprofesionales, Salt, 15, 16, March, 2002, “Les biblioteques publiques: espais de integració social”.


Mobile Library Services


There are 68 mobile library services operating in only 25 provinces serving rural areas, suburbs, medium-sized towns and small population clusters. This small number of mobile libraries has to serve 5113 towns and villages, with a total population of 3,400,000. Timetable information of the bus routes can be found on the web pages of the Regional Library of Murcia

and Basque Country


Mobile Library Service: guidelines.


Prepared by a specialized Work Group. A model of co-operation between regional and central government.


Volunteer Programmes of the Local Libraries Network of the town council of La Coruña


A model of citizen participation. Groups of volunteers work in school libraries and in the home delivery service. Special library services geared to the elderly, the unemployed, cultural and ethnic minorities, the mentally and physically impaired, and house-bound people are provided in co-operation with the social services centre and groups of volunteers and NGOs.


United Kingdom - Libraries for All: social inclusion in Public libraries


Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) produced a report which asserts the agenda and spells out the challenges for libraries to improve social inclusion.


Social inclusion and libraries - a resource guide


A resource intended for all public library professionals, particularly those whose role is to put policy into practice. It aims to provide an easy way-in to recent publications, research and networked resources about social inclusion that might be relevant to public libraries. Resources for Museums and Archives are also being added.


The People’s Network: a turning point for public libraries: First findings. Peter Brophy.


A report published by Resource in January 2003, which examines the effect of the installation of IST facilities in public libraries, with statistics and examples of good practice.


Framework for the future: libraries, learning and information in the next decade. DCMS, 2003.

A long-term strategic vision for the UK public library service concentrating on libraries’ roles in developing reading and learning, digital skills and services, community cohesion and civic values.


Centres for Social Change: Museums, Galleries and Archives for All


Report published by the Department of Culture Media and Sport which gives many examples of good practice.

See also Museums for the Many at

Museums & Galleries Commission


Has produced a fact sheet on social inclusion which contains several useful case studies.


London Museums , Archives and Libraries (LMAL)

Has a website giving examples of relevant work.




Operating in the East of England, its aim is “to increase and demonstrate the potential of public libraries to provide awareness, training and lifelong learning opportunities which impact on the recruitment and retention of specified target groups suffering discrimination and inequality in connection with the labour market”.


Gloucestershire Libraries


Have made their social inclusion strategy available on the web at


London Borough of Merton


Offers services to refugees at its Asylum Welcome drop=in centre at Mitchum Library, and has a Refugee Resources Collection.


London Borough of Tower Hamlets


Have created “Idea Stores” to give a new image, service and sense of purpose to their libraries, and have greatly increased usage as a result.


Nottingham City Libraries


The Big Book Share is a partnership between Nottingham City Libraries and Information Service, the Reading Agency, HM Prison Nottingham, Marks & Spencer plc’s Community Division, East Midlands Arts and 23 children’s publishers. Librarians run fortnightly sessions at the prison to help prisoners choose books and support children reading. Prisoners develop reading skills as they read with their children on visits or record a tape of stories for their children to listen to at home.


Walsall - Library Link


This service is based in Bloxwich on an estate together with the Home Library Service and the Urban Mobile Library. The service visits sheltered accommodation, residential homes, nursing homes, day centers and adult training centers throughout Walsall .




A scheme established by Gwynedd Council in Wales to break down

barriers to archive use in a sparely populated area.


Birmingham Central Library and City Archives


Have equipped a van as a traveling outreach facility. The van is equipped with sound and video playback equipment, exhibitions can be mounted directly on the walls, and there are display racks for publications. The van goes to a wide range of venues, including shopping centers, parks, summer carnivals and festivals all over the city, allowing adults and children to be introduced to the diverse resources of the library and archives for local history. It is also taken to schools and elderly peoples’ homes (and is adapted for disabled access) as part of broader outreach initiatives or reminiscence sessions.

The Reading Agency “Splash Extra”


Is a summer activities programme run throughout the summer in partnership with local Youth Offending Teams and youth services, which consists of a varied programme of reading related multimedia arts activities It is aimed at young people within designated target groups, the majority of whom have never previously set foot in a library, and for whom the world of words, books and reading was unknown, alien or hostile territory.



[1] Aabo, Svanhild. The role and value of public libraries in the age of digital technologies. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, Volume 37, Number 4, December 2005, pp. 205-211.

[2] Yu, Liangzhi. Understanding information inequality: Making sense of the literature of the information and digital divides. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, Volume 38, Number 4, December 2006, pp. 229-245.

[3] Mohl H. John and Winston, D. Roberts. Delivering a Strategy for Working with Maori, and Developing Responsiveness to an Increasingly Multicultural population: a perspective from the National Library of New Zealand. IFLA Journal, Volume 35, March 2009, No. 1, pp. 48-58.

[4] Kargbo, Abdul John. Indigenous knowledge and library work in Sierra Leone . Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, Volume 38, Number 2, June 2006, pp. 71-78.

[5] The PULMAN Guidelines, Second edition, February 2003. PULMAN – public libraries mobilizing advanced networks.

[6] IFLA Guidelines for Public Libraries. The Public Library Service: IFLA/UNESCO Guidelines for Development. URL: (6. svibanj 2009).

[7] Scandinavian Public Library Quarterly, Number 1, 2009. Theme of the issue: Interaction with the local environment.

[8] European Union.  URL: (9 May 2009).



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