The Libraries Unlimited (LU) programme seeks to improve public access to information and knowledge in Bangladesh, and is now 14 months into implementation.
The programme has been designed based on the findings of the Library Landscape Assessment of Bangladesh study, published in June 2015, supported by the Friends of the British Council USA Inc., through grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Government of Bangladesh has agreed to invest over $5 million to match the funding provided by the foundation allowing the programme to run until November 2020.
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.
Ultimately, LU will give millions 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, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), multilaterals, foundations and educational institutions.
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 communities. 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 the 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.
Can you help? The British Council would like to hear from corporations, organisations, multilaterals and practitioners that could share best practice and/or have innovative services and programmes that might enhance access to information for the Bangladeshi people, improve library user experience and increase library usage rates. Please contact Erin Sullivan at Friends of the British Council USA: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit www.britishcouncil.org.bd for more information.