7 European projects that address digital transformation of libraries

The digital transformation has challenged the traditional notion of public libraries; they are changing and regularly re-assessing existing services and offer new ones. Libraries are no longer just the places to borrow books or study; they host events, provide training, and offer recreational and cultural activities. What are those new services? What new skills do librarians require to address the changes? And how can they obtain those new competences? Our Digital Biblio partners are  working on those questions, but here are SEVEN other European projects that address similar issues. Six of them are Erasmus+ projects, and the last one is part of the Urban Agenda for the EU Partnership “Digital Transition”.

1.  Learning Circles in Libraries

Erasmus+ project card
Key Action: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices
Action Type: Strategic Partnerships for adult education
Countries: Poland, USA, Belgium, Finland, Romania, Portugal
Duration: September 2018 – August 2021

  The main goal of the project “Learning circles in libraries” is to help adults access useful content online, study effectively and to improve their lifelong learning skills. The main strategy to achieve this goal is to prepare librarians to start this type of new service and to provide them with all support necessary resources – created using tried and tested methodology, digital assets and the network of practitioners. The partnership will introduce, implement and disseminate on a broad scale, the concept of “learning circles” – communities of adult learners, who facilitated by librarians and supported by friendly environment of library will popularize the movement of lifelong learning. The project is implemented by organisations from Finland, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and the USA.

Learning circle is a self-organized or facilitated group of people who are using the chosen e-learning course in the pre-determined time period – meeting and learning in one place. This methodology was designed to alleviate many of the issues that learners face with online courses, including a lack of motivation, digital barriers, and isolation. The concept of learning circle was created by Peer 2 Peer University based on cooperation with Chicago Public Library.

The planned intellectual outputs will compile a 6-element educational package: white paper on adult education, database of online course, training program, short awareness building educational module for adults and outreach and guidance strategy.

Links to resources

2.  Financial Literacy through public libraries

Erasmus+ Project Card
Key Action: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices
Action Type: Strategic Partnerships for adult education
Countries: Bulgaria (Biblio project partner GLBF), Poland, Romania, Slovenia
Duration: October 2018 – March 2021

The FINLIT project aims to increase the level of financial literacy of adults through a new approach and by using the huge potential of public libraries as non-formal educators and lifelong training institutions. Two of the partners are libraries, while the other two are foundations working with public libraries networks on national level.

The overall objective of the project is to equip librarians – a key group of adult trainers in their every day work – to be able to provide basic financial literacy to their adult uses. This age group (55+) needs further support within the rapidly changing and very complex financial environment where financial products and services are becoming more numerous, more complex and more risky. Special emphasis is given on librarians in small cities and rural areas where different educational activities and lifelong training on key competencies are so necessary.

Main expected results:

3.  Cultural Heritage for the Future: Discover, Share and Learn

Erasmus+ Project Card
Key Action: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices
Action Type: Strategic Partnerships for adult education
Countries: Lithuania, Sweden, Estonia, Denmark, Slovenia
Duration: September 2018 – August 2020

Project “Cultural Heritage for the Future: Discover, Share and Learn” will help to use social and educational value of European cultural heritage in order to motivate adults to become more involved into learning process and share their experiences. The project will allow librarians and other adult educators to apply not yet used and innovative tools for delivery of materials in order to create conditions that would ensure an involvement of participants during the learning process through cultural heritage and allow participants to cooperate with each other, learn from one another. Librarians will also strengthen their educational and andragogical competences, they will be encourage to share international experience and to create international network of professionals.

During this project three different intellectual output will be created: the study “Libraries for Communities”, a web page with stories of sharing information about cultural heritage and involving communities in different lifelong learning activities, which can serve as methodology for developing new learning and training programs in public libraries, the guidelines “8 Steps to Unfold Followship and Onboarding for Community Engagement in Cultural Heritage.”.

Librarians participating in this project will upgrade their andragogical skills by exchanging and sharing new methods, good practices and ideas that will enrich their professional expertise.

4.  iTSELF – Re-designing and co-creating innovative cultural heritage services through libraries

Erasmus+ project card
Key Action: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices
Action Type: Strategic Partnerships for adult education
Countries: Latvia, France, Turkey, Estonia, Serbia, The Netherlands
Duration: December 2018 – November 2020

The aim of the iTSELF project is to encourage society to become more involved in identification, preservation, and consumption of cultural heritage by developing training programs and educational materials for libraries and making them available via Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) thus promoting or contributing in re-designing existing and co-creating new innovative services in cultural heritage institutions.

There are four objectives to achieve the project goal:
1) to identify the role of libraries in promoting cultural heritage;
2) to design the training programme and toolkit activities for developing innovative library services;
3) to implement the training programme;
4) to make project results (training programmes and educational materials) available via MOOC platform.

To reach the objectives the project will integrate librarians and information specialists (adult educators) through series of activities:
1) multiplier events to promote project scope to associated partners and other cultural heritage actors;
2) short-term joint staff training events which include learning new methodology, designing training programme, toolkit and e-learning platform to develop innovative services.

1) Agile Framework (SCRUM and KANBAN)
2) Lego Serious Play
3) Business Model You.

5.  3D printing support service for innovative citizens

Erasmus+ Project card
Key Action: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices
Action Type: Strategic Partnerships for higher education
Countries: Ireland, Portugal, Greece, Slovakia, Romania, Spain
Duration: September 2019 – August 2022

The 3D printing support service for innovative citizens (INNO3D) project is designed to improve and diversify the services offered to users of university and other libraries by offering library users key skills and the opportunity to develop 3D printing competencies. This will be achieved by training librarians who will then train library users, students, staff and citizens in general to use 3D Printing services.

Libraries have always been communal spaces that have been set up to share and give access to learning and enrichment resources. The introduction of new technologies such as 3D printing is part of the mission to teach 21st-century skills. 3D printing is an example of the type of resource that will transform today’s libraries into cutting-edge learning hubs and give communities access to technologies that will have a significant impact on such fields as scientific research, architecture, manufacturing, engineering, healthcare and more.

The goal of 3D printing in libraries is not to create the next artificial heart. But a library user can learn the technology and potential of digital fabrication and reinforce that learning with simpler hands-on projects. Hence, effectively introducing 3D printing in Society and making it available to ordinary citizens.

The project expected results include a 3D Printing Curriculum and atrainers toolkit.

6. COLIBLITE  –  COmmunity LIBraries and digital LITEracy skills for migrant and low-educated families children

Erasmus+ Project Card
Key Action: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices
Action Type: Strategic Partnerships for school education
11 partners from 4 countries: Netherlands, UK, Italy, Romania
Duration: September 2017 – August 2020

COLIBLITE promotes collaboration among libraries and local administrations, schools, community centres, youth-work associations and parents to develop awareness and educational activities on digital citizenship and 21st century skills. The main target are children (4-11 y.o.) and teenagers (12-16 y.o.) from disadvantaged families with a migrant background and other disadvantaged families. These young people are often found lacking educational support to develop these new key competences.

COLIBLITE is based on the need of educational and library professionals as well as MLF parents to develop horizontal neighborhood approaches and actions involving schools, libraries, community centers and parents, to promote and teach basic digital – and citizenship skills with MLF children and youngsters.

Some of the results include: 5 Local action plans, how to build a successful local partnership; Training package for professionals; Additional digital citizenship programs for children and youngsters in addition to the school programs and school curricula. These Intellectual output will be compiled in a transnational online toolkit with all developed strategy tools.

7.  Digital Neighbourhood Instrument

Digital Neighbourhood Instrument was developed within the Urban Agenda for the EU Partnership “Digital Transition”. The objective of the  “Digital Transition” and its Action Plan is:

  • To provide better public services to citizens, with help of digital tools;
  • To support European cities in exploiting the possibilities of digitalization;
  • To assist European businesses to develop new innovations and create new business opportunities for global markets.

Actions are related to one of following principles:

  • Generalise and diffuse digital skills to everybody;
  • Enable and implement citizen-centric e-government;
  • Provide value through free and fair access to open/public/personal data;
  • Accelerate and adopt digital emerging technologies in cities;
  • Adopt business model thinking to drive urban digital transition;
  • Strengthen the ability for cities to act within the digital transition.

In relation to the above, Action 2 “Digital Neighbourhood Instrument” has developed a booklet containing a general model together with a toolkit on how to establish a Digital Centre (e.g Digital Competence Centre). It describes the experience of the members of Digital Transition Partnership and two models for providing access to digital services used in Helsingborg, Sweden, and Sofia, Bulgaria, through public libraries, based on the pilots conducted during 2018-2019.

The Digital Neighbourhood Instrument booklet provides a generic model, which makes it easily adaptable to any local condition. It relies on collaboration and the joint responsibility for the entire municipality. It can start up small and grow over time.


Featured image – Stockholm Library by Gunnar Ridderström on Unsplash