Advancing Digital Empowerment
of Libraries in Europe

Creating digitally at the library

Europe has 65 000 public library spaces and sees 100 million people visit one of these every year. Over the years, Europe’s public libraries have adapted their offer to the needs of the digital age, making these one of the first port of call for skills development outside of formal education, from today’s basic digital skills to tomorrow’s basic skills of coding and robotics. Alongside this, every year, 4.6 million Europeans access the Internet for the first time at their public library and 2.3 million people attend a digital literacy course. Libraries are no longer just places for books – they are a place for people, for learning, and for widening your world.

Libraries across Europe host a variety of digital activities bringing digital making and creativity into their community. For example, the San Giorgio Library organises digital camps led by YouLab Pistoia in Italy. These are one-day camps for youths aged 6 to 14 aiming to give them a space to experiment and get comfortable with new technologies all while making new friends at the library. For many, this helps them overcome any fear or apprehension they may have towards new technologies in a fun and interactive way.

Image of two young white boys building a robot together
One-day camps offer children aged 6 to 14 opportunity to interact and get comfortable with new technology. Photo credit: YouLab Pistoia

Another great example of digital skills in libraries is Stockton-On-Tees, one of the Stockton Borough Libraries. They developed and delivered sessions covering topics such as digital skills, online safety, and computer science subjects such as coding. Over 200 people attended their sessions with many not being library users. Needless to say, many were pleasantly surprised that their library could offer so much to them and their families. With the success of these initial sessions, the staff at Stockton-On-Tees decided to run a series of coding sessions to commemorate 100 years of women’s suffrage in the UK and address gender inequality in STEM education.

Photo of a young white woman pointing to a laptop screen an older white man is working on. Another white man is seated next to them using a computer.
Stockton-On-Tees developed sessions covering topics such as digital skills, online safety, and computer science subjects such as coding. Photo credit: Stockton-On-Tees

Through activities like this, libraries bring digital making and digital skills to their communities in a non-formal, attainable, and relatable way. In doing so, libraries lower the barrier to entry to acquiring new digital skills and create an encouraging learning environment for different groups. Additionally, library professionals find these initiatives to be a good challenge to step outside of their comfort zone and deliver new, fresh ideas and make a positive, long-lasting impact in their community. However, it is important for librarians to reflect on how they are employing digital technologies for themselves and their community and ensure that they are using these to the fullest. This will help deliver even more impactful and meaningful activities that foster lifelong learning and robust communities.

Новини и блогове събития