English summary

After the implementation of the project “Libraries for Innovation”, the system of the public libraries in Lithuania became the strongest force helping residents overcome social exclusion – to master and start using digital sources and e-services.

Project “Libraries for Innovation” was implemented according to an international triangular agreement among the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, Martynas Mazvydas National Library of Lithuania and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which was signed on 15th November, 2007 (an edit of 5th November, 2009).  Project “Libraries for Innovation” continues and complements the objectives of the Library renovation and modernization program of 2003-2013 confirmed in 2002 by the Republic of Lithuania. These objectives are related to the implementation of the goal “to eliminate discrepancies of urban and rural informational communication infrastructure and to provide equal opportunities to all residents to use information technologies for social and community purposes”.

Project goal – to achieve, through strengthening and using the capacities of public libraries, a considerably better use of the possibilities of information technologies among all the Lithuanian population for obtaining useful information and communication.

Why is this project useful?

  • In all promising public libraries, public Internet access is installed and in libraries already providing  public Internet access it is being expanded and updated.
  • Essentially, the informational competence of libraries’ staff is being strengthened, librarians are becoming active encouragers and helpers for local community, while mastering the opportunities of information technologies.
  • Residents, especially the elderly and those living in rural areas, are being encouraged to use the opportunities provided by Internet more often.

The scope and term of the project

1276 public libraries, branches and subdivisions, about 2000 libraries’ staff participated in the project. The libraries received technical equipment, they were equipped with broadband Internet connection. All libraries were included in the training activities of specialists and visitors, encouraging electronic service usage and consulting.  Duration of the project is four and a half years (2008-2012).

Input and obligations of Lithuanian parties

  • To co-finance the project implementation from the state budget and, in the long term, to ensure the succession of services created to residents.
  • Obligations of municipalities include paying for Internet connection services, trips to training courses, appropriately preparing library premises for public access according to defined area, safety  and other requirements.
  • Obligations of libraries and their staff are to participate in the project activities and guarantee the succession of these activities after the project finishes.

 Project budget

The total project budget makes up approximately 112 million Litas. The grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation constitutes approximately 38 million Litas of the budget. Public libraries which are participating in the project received a donation of software from Microsoft Corporation worth approximately 36 million Litas. Another share – 22 million Litas – is provided by the state (co-financing) and public libraries (non-monetary input).

The main results of the project:

  • 11 training centers for libraries’ staff and residents were established and are running successfully.
  • Public Internet access points were installed/ updated in 1276 urban and rural public libraries.
  • Special software for the blind and the weak-eyed was installed in 72 libraries and libraries’ staff were trained how to use it and to train visitors.
  • Material for the trainings of libraries’ staff and residents was prepared and distributed in all libraries. The material includes printed publications, online training material and tutorial video means for self training of libraries’ staff and residents.
  • In total, approximately 2700 members of the public libraries’ staff participated in the trainings organized by the project “Libraries for Innovation”. Most of them participated in more than one program, over 200 of libraries’ staff improved their competencies in more than five areas and 29 of them participated in seven or more programs. In total, 7500 participants were recorded in the trainings organized by the project during four years. 
  • In 2008-2010, communication campaigns of a large scope were implemented, during which events to attract residents to libraries and use the public Internet access more actively were organized: contests for libraries’ staff and the society, events for the elderly, the unemployed, children from families at social risk and for children whose parents had left abroad. In regional press, a few hundreds of articles and announcements about the changed services and opportunities of libraries were publicized.

Finance saved in 2008-2009 were used implementing of new activities, which were dedicated for safer Internet usage, strengthening the bonds between libraries’ staff and local communities and renewing libraries’ websites.

Impact Assessment 

The impact assessment research aimed at evidencing the influence of the project “Libraries for Innovation” on the communities that are the targets of the main activities of the project. The studies investigated downstream social and economic impacts arising from use of the public access Internet facilities at the public libraries.

The project impact assessment framework was based on the measurement of the predetermined monitoring indicators for the intended outcomes. In different stages studies combine quantitative and qualitative social research methods: Surveys and questionnaires (including web based surveys), structured interviews, focused discussion groups with library users, non users, librarians, library managers, experts and other target groups.

The impact assessment is carried out in the following stages:

2008 – baseline study analyzing the situation prior to the implementation of the project “Libraries for Innovation” and assessing the initial monitoring indicators

Publication "Libraries for Innovation: In the Preparation for Changes. Report on the Baseline Study" (19.2 MB, PDF)

The surveys' reports:

2009 – assessment of monitoring indicators of the project (focus on urban libraries)

Publication "Libraries for Innovation: Changes in the Library and in the Society. Report on the Impact Assessment Study" (7.5 MB, PDF)

The surveys' reports:

2010 – assessment of monitoring indicators of the project (focus on rural libraries)

Publication "Libraries for Innovation: Changes in the Library and in the Society. Impact Evaluation Study Report for 2010" (6.1 MB, PDF)

The surveys' reports:

2011 – Final project impact assessment

Publication "Libraries for Innovation: Changes in the Library and in the Society. Report on the Impact Assessment Studies 2008–2012" (1.1 MB, PDF)

The surveys' reports:

 The significance of the results to the Lithuanian society

  1. Practically, the problem of access to a computer and Internet is solved in the entire territory of the country (in both urban and rural areas). People who do not have a computer or Internet at home can find free of charge Internet access in the nearest library 5-7 kilometres away.
  2. A network of specialists who know how to consult and who actually consult residents on a daily basis and who help to gain or improve digital skills in public libraries was created. Approximately 2000 of competent members of libraries’ staff joined this continuous daily activity.

Currently, the most powerful force in Lithuania is created and operates in the system of public libraries. It helps residents to overcome social exclusion – to master and start using digital sources and e-services.

During the last two years, approximately 65 000 of residents participated in trainings organized by libraries. Visitors were consulted for nearly a half of a million times regarding various issues of information and Internet usage. This activity and purposeful communication campaigns in public libraries and national media in 2009-2011 greatly contributed to the significantly increased share of Internet users in Lithuanian small towns and villages and also among the people of older age (the research conducted by JSC “TNS LT” in 2011 as requested by the Information Society Development Committee under the Ministry of Transport and Communications (ISDC).