Digital Libraries for Local Development (DL4LD) - A Swiss-Croatian Cooperation

Centers of digital innovation and citizen science in 100 Croatian and 5 Swiss libraries!

6 June 2019, Zagreb

The Office for Cooperation with NGOs of the Republic of Croatia presented a new project by the Institute for Youth Development and Innovation (IRIM) “Digital Libraries for Local Development”. The project is funded by the Swiss Confederation through the Swiss-Croatian co-operation program, and IRIM will implement it in partnership with the INNOVABRIDGE Foundation from Switzerland.

The project builds upon IRIM’s idea of building the capacity for digital transformation in schoolchildren and general population through local libraries, first executed in 100+ libraries in Croatia, and then, with the support from Google, in 170 libraires in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and on Kosovo.

The project seeks to empower children and adults to become active citizens and creators of knowledge and sustainable development in local communities in Croatia and Switzerland through the acquisition of STEM knowledge and digital competencies.

The project Digital Libraries for Local Development (DL4LD) focuses on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) areas, while at the same time developing competencies such as problem solving, algorithmic thinking, critical thinking, collaboration skills, communication and creativity. The project empowers local libraries, librarians and citizens through the advancement of lifelong learning and the use of new technologies.

This project will be a good model for others as it initiates a co-operation between Croatian and Swiss librarians. In the project a set of equipment will be developed that will serve to measure environmental variables. The sets will be donated and installed in libraries and will continuously measure the environmental variables. A portion of the sets will be available to citizens to borrow from the libraries and research implementation and data collection.

Through data sharing on a common platform, citizens will be able to collect more information, analyze it and compare it with official data. By doing this, citizens themselves will be empowered to become developers of advancement from below and become the creators of initiatives that contribute to a sustainable development of local communities.

The project’s intention is to strengthen the capacities of 100 Croatian and 5 Swiss libraries by turning them into centers of digital innovation, educating librarians and involving citizens in the process.

Additionally, this project promotes Citizen Science – a concept that embraces the cooperation of citizens who voluntarily help scientists, collect data and collaborate with them in their analysis and interpretation. This will enable local libraries and librarians to support and participate in local development projects that will be developed by the local citizens themselves.

STEM skills and digital literacy are indispensable for modern European societies and for all of their citizens. Critical thinking and orientation to solving problems are needed for local communities, but also more widely. The inadequate participation of citizens, especially young people, in local community life is closely related to insufficient levels of lifelong learning. By embracing the concept of continuous lifelong learning, they will be enabled to face challenges presented to them by adopting key competences that all individuals need for personal fulfillment and development, employability, social inclusion and active citizenship. Those skills are developed from early childhood to adulthood, and through formal, informal and non-formal learning.

Libraries, as traditional knowledge distribution places remain the best locations to develop literacy and lifelong learning, as they serve all user populations, regardless of their age, gender or level of education. Accelerated development has led to the need to redefine their roles in local communities, as fewer and fewer users come to libraries to borrow books, and there is a growing need for a new and interesting educational content.

We will soon publish more information about the project and its activities. Follow us!

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