Libraries Unlimited

Opening access to information and knowledge for all in Bangladesh

The Libraries Unlimited (LU) programme seeks to improve public access to information and knowledge in Bangladesh and has been designed based on the findings of the Library Landscape Assessment of Bangladesh study, published in June 2015. Developed in close partnership with the Government of Bangladesh, LU aims to modernise the public library network, build the capacity of government officers, train library staff, and build public awareness of and access to library and information services. The British Council is implementing this project in Bangladesh in partnership with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and is supported by the Department of Public Libraries. LU will give millions of more people in Bangladesh, including groups such as women, young people out of education and employment, and micro-entrepreneurs, more control over their own lives thus supporting them to achieve their potential through access to a range of user-driven services. There will be five broad strands to the programme.

 

Provide policy and advocacy with local, regional and national government

We will develop a shared vision of 21st Century libraries across Bangladesh that embeds the country’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals and provides communities with access to information, knowledge and skills development.

Design and establish model libraries and upgrade library facilities

We will establish 30 model public libraries and an e-library network, and scale services to a further 39 public libraries. We will upgrade ICT facilities and design new layouts to create contemporary multi-usage solutions that provide innovative learning environments.

Innovate services and increase library usage rates

We will enable public libraries to provide an increased number of locally-relevant services that directly meet the needs of their communities, such as high-quality and supported free public access to the internet. We will also implement a national awareness campaign and secure partnerships with corporations, NGOs, multi-laterals, foundations and educational institutions enhance the services provided at public libraries and to innovate the role of public libraries to serve the community

Professional development for library practitioners

We will train library staff to provide user-centred 21st-century services and to become catalysts for change in their community. Training includes building digital leadership and ICT skills, community engagement and outreach, customer services, operations and technical management, team building, and event and activity management.

Monitoring, learning, evaluation and best practice

We will establish national monitoring, learning and evaluation systems for libraries’ development process. This will enable analytical capacity and data collection to inform library design and services. We will also seek to share best practice and lessons learned globally.

As part of introducing innovative learning technologies at public libraries, Libraries Unlimited is taking micro:bit to 64 district level public libraries in Bangladesh by 2020. Through micro:bit, children and young people will be able to learn and develop the skill of coding by attending free classes, run by a pool of volunteers working in the IT sector or currently studying at leading universities with a popular Computer Science department. We will set up micro:bit ‘pop up coding cupboards’ which will be have IT equipment needed to learn coding. Micro:bit will popularise the context of coding among young people in Bangladesh and this will open exciting opportunities to coding, which is one of the fastest growing occupation worldwide- leading to future employment, community engagement, digital leadership and skills development.

See also