Public Libaries and Community Cohesion
"The report is based on a mix of telephone interviews, questionnaires, desk research, visits and focus group meetings. Initial research showed that there had been little significant activity in public libraries to suggest that community cohesion is either well-understood or that it forms the central focus of strategy or practice. The report argues firstly that community cohesion is a key component in a broad policy trend characterised as ‘civil-localism,’ which both challenges and creates opportunities for pluralism and the public realm. Secondly it argues that community cohesion is a legitimate central focus for library services. Where the public library can demonstrate a contribution to the quality of social relations in local communities it will recover its place as a recognised symbol of the public realm."
And as previously mentioned, there's a weblog for the Public Libaries and Community Cohesion project here.
2010 Challenges as defined by EU Commission
while it does not appear to be the most lively place in the world, I guess it may be useful to continue using this blog as a place for collecting resources on inclusion issues. E.g.:
"The European Commission’s view of the challenges that need to be addressed in a European Information Society strategy up to 2010 are set out in a Commission communication on “Challenges for Europe’s Information Society beyond 2005: Starting point for a new EU strategy”, adopted on 19 November 2004.", says the eEurope site. And one of the issues specifically mentioned is "eInclusion and citizenship". Public Consultation is open until 16 January 2005.
And happy holidays to all those nice colleagues I had the pleasure of meeting in Cardiff!
Social inclusion and video games
From the BBC News pages -
Street children in Argentina's capital Buenos Aires are learning new skills, thanks to their passion for video games, say researchers.
Julio is one of the street children who regularly plays games
After a two-year study, the research institute, the Centre for Media Studies concluded that gaming helps the children improve their reading on screen and their ability to resolve conflicts.
It seems to be key in developing strategies to overcome obstacles and reach goals, and even in allowing them back into mainstream society.
According to this study, eight out of 10 of the 5,000 children living or working in the streets of Buenos Aires are regular game players, mostly in cyber cafés and arcades.... More here.
Signposts around this site
This website is a record of a British Council seminar held in Cardiff in January 2004 on the subject of Social Inclusion in the Information Society. Much of the content was produced by those attending, and it is in the form of a blog. You can read here how it works - or just click the links, looking in the sidebars for more navigation.
The event director was Kevin Harris, who offers a welcome here, together with one from Sarah Metcalfe of the British Council. You'll also find all participants , contributors, and the programme.
On the first evening Kevin organised a Hello game in which everyone had to find out how others in the group greeted people in their first language.
At the dinner that followed we heard from Welsh Assembly Government Minister Andrew Davies and Tony Deyes of the British Council - there's a page with video links here.
We started Tuesday with a 'game', using project ideas cards working in groups to develop social inclusion plans for fictitious yet realistic places.
After that it was serious discussion, and this blog contains session reports for the rest of the week, including a number of video interviews. To view those you will need the free Quicktime player. Each day is indexed in the right side bar, where you will also find a link to contributors.
During and after the event people posted useful resources, which you can find here. If you get lost, clicking the top title Designing for Social Inclusion will get you back to the main page. There's a break in entries on this page between January and February, if you are scrolling down. Links to monthly archives are in the left sidebar.
Please mail me David Wilcox if you have any queries about the blog - email@example.com - or Kevin Harris firstname.lastname@example.org about the event. I have written more about how we did the blog here.
Key Findings - East wing Group
Participants split into two groups to discuss the main things they had learned from the week - and then reported back.
Silvia Mossini reports below on the group that stayed on the east wing for their discussions:
WHAT WE’VE LEARNT
- Bottom up x top down efforts
- Network of libraries
- Range of examples in different fields (methodologies, networking, f to f, community development, etc.)
- Sharing experiences and methodology used
- Similar problems in different countries
- Diversity the investment to attend people in different levels
- Increase democratic participation direct democracy
WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DO
- Organise seminars and workshops (local and national levels) and enquiry for equipment and access
- Maintain contact with the group (the blog will be useful!) as a small network
- Try to improve the free access in our area
- Use the idea of homework clubs
- Use the community model to raise adult education/knowledge
Major new report on cultural diversity in libraries
I've been involved recently in setting up and running a weblog on public libraries and community cohesion, as part of a project that is looking to develop indicators. One of the latest postings will be of interest here - referring to the publication of an important new international report on libraries and cultural diversity.
e-democracy seminar by EU Commission
from Febr. 12th there was quite an interesting seminar by the DG Information Society in Brussels, featuring such issues as "Digital Divide cases from Liverpool and Sheffield" or "Inclusive e-participation". You may want to have a look at the website with some of the presentations.
Smile, it's all over!
Here we are, all participants
here we are, a really international group of people.
Keep posting your photos on the blog.
M-Government / Interesting new report
as we mentioned the issue of M-Government as a way to reach excluded communities during the seminar, I thought you might be interested in this new report that elaborates on this technology's possibilities.
I also recommend the "Development Gateway" portal where you can find it to those who do not already know it.
Government Unplugged - Mobile and Wireless Technologies in the Public Service
This document, made by South African Centre for Public Service Innovation, is an excellent analysis of mobile technologies and their usage for governmental purposes. The document also contains nearly 20 case studies to learn from.
Social inclusion and libraries
Two items that might be of interest following our discussion of the role(s) of libraries in addressing social exclusion. First, some very good work has been carried out in the UK by the Social Exclusion Action Planning Network, which runs training courses and provides information for libraries, museums and galleries.
Secondly, since on several occasions we reflected on the importance of local neutral places where people can go without any particular responsibility being placed on them, I'm linking here to a Public Library Journal article which I published last year on public libraries and 'third places'.
Colombia: Luis Ángel Arango library presentation
- The Luis Ángel Arango Library is a cultural centre with a large library service, art museums and the major venue for classic music concerts in Colombia. We recieve around 6000 visitors per day.
- It belongs to the Banco de la República, the Central Bank which acts as the institution in charge of the Legal emission of currency among many other responsibilities that are directly related to the economy of the country.
- It is located in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia and it has 28 branches around the country.
Some of the activities done in the
Department of Virtual Library, Educational Services and Press Affairs:
The virtual library of the Luis Ángel Arango Library, created in 1997, is a pilot program in Latin America. It hosts a collection of documents and texts mainly related to Colombian authors and subjects aimed to complement basic needs of elementary and high school students, their teachers and parents. Today, it includes nearly 102.000 full text pages, 30.000 images, 20.000 links to other websites, 50 audio files and 12 video recordings published on our free access web site. Each year, around 30.000 new pages are added.
This virtual library holds a wide variety of subjects such as literature, poetry, history, biographies, arts, anthropology and geography. The Banco de la República´s, musical instrument and manuscript collections are also part of the virtual library’s heap. We have 650.000 accesses per day, and according to the statistics kept by the Cervantes Virtual Library in Spain (www.cervantesvirtual.org) we are the second most visited Hispanic virtual library, after the National Library of Spain.
Our virtual library office is responsible for the whole web publishing process which includes the development of new contents, the selection of materials, getting the copy rights, digitalization, graphic design, cataloguing, archives, quality control, technological support, as well as the promotion of collaboration schemes with other national and international institutions. This office is also in charge of the administrative aspects such as budget and contracts involved in the above processes.
The press affairs office is aimed to promote the wide array of cultural activities organized by the Luis Ángel Arango Library and to invite people to join them. Per year, these normally include nearly 90 concerts held in the Sala de Conciertos de la Luis Ángel Arango, at least 30 art exhibits in a total of 8 exhibition rooms, and numerous academic conferences organized in the Library’s premises or in collaboration with universities and other cultural centres of the city.
The dissemination of the above activities is done both through a printed and electronic calendar issued on a monthly basis, complemented with specifically targeted electronic mailing lists, and in the virtual library’s web site. Conventional promotion is also done through local and national newspapers, radio and TV, and advertising in the country’s principal cultural magazines.
This office provides onsite and online pedagogical activities for adults and children that go on through out the year, related to the 90 concerts held in the Concert Hall, the 30 art exhibits in 10 exhibition rooms, and academic conferences organized in the Library’s premises or in collaboration with universities and other cultural centres of the city. The aim is to offer the various audiences the possibility to make a more profitable use of this leading cultural centre. For this purpose we use printed and electronic material published on the web to offer a preview and a background of each activity, organize free guided visits for all art exhibits, arrange free concerts for school students, prepare and deliver workshops with schoolteachers, and workshops with artists and musicians, online games and discussion forums.
The Virtual Library recommended web pages
The following are some examples of the information published in the Virtual Library website. Please take a look and try to learn some Spanish!
Alexander Von Humboldt: As a tribute to 200 year of this important German sage we developed a pedagogical site were there is information about his life, his discoveries, the routes that were explored, a botanic exhibition and also some games.
Abre Ventanas (Open Windows): In order to invite the younger ones to enjoy reading we designed a very simple interface in which we tell some details of a longer story with no ending. If the child wants to discover the end one must read the whole story.
Cuentos Pintados De Rafael Pombo (Rafael Pombo´S Ilustrated Fables): Rafael Pombo is a Colombian author that writes children literature. We published some of his fables with illustrations of Lorenzo Jaramillo a Colombian artist. The child has the opportunity to read and also play.
Monumentos Nacionales De Colombia (Colombian National Monuments): This site designed to show Colombian’s historical monuments, gives the opportunity to travel through time and the countries geography choosing his way of transportation.
Árbol Temático De Música (Music Subject Tree): In this subject tree we published a number of Colombian composers, their biographies, audio compositions (MP3) and scores. The user can find Colombian classical, popular and traditional music.
Colección De Arte Del Banco De La Republica (Banco De La Republica Art Collection): This site contains the whole art collection held by the Banco de la Republica of Colombia. It has almost 3000 works of art organized by author, subject, and year. It also has a 3D virtual visit of the actual exhibition.
Calendario Cultural (Cultural Calendar): As the Cultural Division of the central Bank of Colombia organizes diverse activities thought out the year in 28 cities of Colombia; we decided to develop an application that has different search options (year, activity, institution, city, date etc). The information can be filled through our website, with a password from any city of Colombia.
Butetown History & Arts Centre
On the last day of the seminar we paid a visit to the Butetown History and Arts Centre in Cardiff Bay, where we heard a fascinating talk given by the centre's director, Glenn Jordan. BHAC collects, preserves and presents the lived history of old Cardiff Bay, an area noted for its cultural diversity. The exhibits, books and other materials that they produce draw on the photographs, documents and memories of local people. Our sense of the geographical and cultural distinctiveness of the area fed into our subsequent discussions about the separateness, isolation and integration of communities.
Main seminar content
For the rest of the content on this blog, see the January archive in the left sidebar or here. .
Key Findings - Westwing Group
Thomas Hart reports below on the group that retired to the west wing for their discussions:
"Our key findings as of Friday afternoon:"
The challenge of short term projects
Aydin Mehmet Ali highlighted the issues and benefits of working with local communities over a few months. Could outside energy help people get new projects started, or was it likely to lead to raised expectations and disappointment? Probably a bit of both was the conclusion.
Aydin has wide experience of working with Turkish Speaking Communities - so was very well-placed to help TSC groups on a London estate explore what use communication technologies could be in tackling social issues and concerns and offering new opportunities. Over five months a database of contacts was established, newsletters published, focus groups held, films made, and a homework club and other projects established. Mobile phones and a group of volunteer women played a large part in building networks. The project was impressively successful in raising the key issues, and identifying ways forward. But without continuing support from local agencies it proved difficult for many of the recommendations made by residents to be implemented. However, residents have kept up the momentum in areas they feel able to impact. In that respect communication projects face the same problems as others with short-term funding.More here about the project.
Aydin's presentation Download Powerpoint (size 3.4 M)
Libraries as 'engines for social inclusion'
The introduction of free Internet access to libraries has transformed their role, attracting a wider range of people and making libraries a stronger focus for community activity said Alan Watkin, Chief Officer for Libraries, Leisure and Culture with Wrexham County Borough Council.
They are attracting more young people, and also acting as communication centres for groups including refugees and asylum seekers seeking to keep in touch with families elsewhere. Alan detailed the importance of libraries in rural communities where often the shop, the school and the chapel had closed. Libraries were able to provide far more than easy access to books - and often the only opportunity for people to become a member of a local network, offering a place to meet. "Libraries are potentially one of the engines of a socially inclusive society," he said.
Alan's presentation Download Powerpoint (size 140 Kb)
Erkinbek Kasybekov's Presentation
Lessons learnt from citizens participation in drafting National Strategies in Kyrgyz Republic, Central Asia.Go to my presentation
Literacy and Information literacy
In a country like Indonesia, “modernization” is central to political legitimacy. The government believes that their main task is to transfer the society from “traditional” and “backward” into “modern” and “advanced”. In this way of thinking, “social exclusion” is a disruption to the process of becoming modern. Moreover, people who have been “excluded” or “marginalised” are thought to be in the state of abnormality, and therefore they have to be “normalized” or perhaps “neutralized”. Education in Indonesia has been seen in this context as a modality through which people are “normalized” so they can participate in various “modernization” projects; so they can be “functional” in a modern community. Central to this point of view is the notion that there are basic requirements for everyone in order for them to be “functional”. One of these requirements is aptly called “functional literacy”. In Indonesia, the eradication of illiteracy and the establishment of one language despite the fact that there are more than 689 distinct ethnolinguistic entities, has always been a main stream approach. With the coming of information technology, the term “functional literacy” has been expanded to also include “computer literacy” and “information literacy”. The equation is like this: to be modern is to be literate, and to be literate is to be able to read and write in one official language, and now that we have computers, to be literate is also to be computer literate. Lack of skills and of knowledge of computers, or the reluctance of the poor to embrace new attitudes and new technology are thought as “deficits”. Computer literacy is seen to be the starting poing of the process to overcome this deficit.
BBC iCAN project - Hywel Griffith's presentation
A chance to thank our technical support (and inspiration) - Daniel and David Wilcox. Thank you both!
Government policy and community technology
During our session on national information strategies, I illustrated our discussion of different strategic approaches by referring to four kinds of approach - through local centres, local groups, neighbourhoods, and local champions. The short paper in which I discuss this is available here.
Thomas / Bertelsmann Foundation
Just a short complementary information to what I said in the morning:
* My e-Mail Adress: Thomas.Hart@Bertelsmann.de
* You will find the Bertelsmann Foundation's Homepage here (after the recent relaunch, it is currently only available in German, I think. But that should change in the nearest future) and biography
* Our project website on e-government / e-democracy / freedom of information is here
* the short version of our e-government best practice report is attached to this entry. Download file
* and some pictures taken with my phone camera
... of the Castle: ... and of the City Hall:
Updating the site
Hello everyone at the seminar . I'll be back in Cardiff tomorrow, meanwhile....
• I have changed the order of postings so that latest are at the top. Early seminar information can be found in the seminar intro category
• You can find biographies and presentations in participants and contributors
• There are now a number of videos - for which you'll need the free Quicktime player installed
• If you have difficulty adding a main item, post a comment where it is most relevant and I'll move it if necessary. That goes for expanding on existing postings too
Any comments on blogging seminars welcome too!
Managing Inclusion Strategies
Now, at last: the first posting on the Tuesday session that we agreed on: "Managing inclusion processes". I suggested in yesterday's session that one of the most relevant issues in tackling the problems of your community was to approach it in a fashion similar to any other project: by identifying the issues, prioritising them, allocating resources, etc. (you could say: learn from business – they know how to manage processes).
To trigger a discussion on this, I'd like to suggest some form of "To Do" list.
On Tuesday evening we were entertained by Halflight, a guitar-cello-vocalist trio from south Wales.
See their website here.