UNET annual meeting in Brantford, Canada

“The public library, the local gateway to knowledge, provides a basic condition for lifelong learning, independent decisionmaking and cultural development of the individual and social groups.” The UNESCO Public Library Manifesto proclaims UNESCO’s belief in the public library as a living force for education, culture and information.

By creating a model library the public library of Ljusdal in Sweden has taken a more active role in the library development together with public libraries in Estonia, Portugal, Spain, Zimbabwe, Canada, Chile and Malaysia. The libraries exist under quite different conditions, from Mzilikazi Memorial Library in Bulawayo in Zimbabwe to Brantford Public Library in Canada, but they all work in the spirit of the UNESCO Manifesto and form a network – UNET. The UNET work includes, among other things:

  • testing new media
  • playing a more active role in the educational society
  • further developing the library as a cultural centre
  • developing the library as a local information centre and defining its role in the information society
  • becoming part of a global network.

The annual meetings are an essential part of the work to change ideas and to report the steps taken within the UNET project. This year’s meeting took place in Brantford Public Library, Canada, one of the UNESCO libraries. The overall theme of the meeting was Lifelong Learning – one of the goals of the Manifesto.

Brantford Public Library, near Lake Ontario has included a commitment to the principles of the Manifesto in the Libraries’s new Strategic Plan. According to a survey of community perceptions of public library service in Brantford, the library is heavily used and enjoys high public regard. It also lives up to the demands of the ‘digital age’ and places great importance on services to children and lifelong learning in the community. More about Brantford Public Library as a member of the UNET: http://www.brantford.library.on.ca/unesco.shtml

The ongoing evaluation, reported at the meeting, tries to estimate if and how the UNET libraries have fulfilled the intentions of the UNESCO Public Library Manifesto.

The UNET libraries see the model library network as a collaboration process with an exchange of experiences and ideas, with the UNESCO Public Library Manifesto as the cornerstone. They can also support, encourage and stimulate each other in the development of library operations.

Birgitta Modigh head of department, Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs

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Head of department. The Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs.