Many Romanians do not have private access to the internet or a computer. Although access to broadband has improved significantly, Romania still suffers from a significant "broadband divide" between urban and rural areas, according to the latest figures from the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). Libraries are a service that can bridge citizens’ needs for better connectivity to the resources they lack.
Biblionet established training centres within each of Romania’s 41 county library systems, as well as regional training centres (RTCs) in five county libraries. In partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ANBPR, the Ministry of Culture, local and national governments, and public libraries across the country, Biblionet helped librarians breathe new life into Romanian communities. Biblionet equipped librarians with modern tools and techniques necessary to assess their communities’ needs and provide context-specific services that improved hundreds of thousands of lives. Through policy change and partnership development, Biblionet transformed the libraries into key partners that contributed substantially to Romania’s development. In its effort to introduce new technologies and explain the advantages of the Internet to the roughly 11 million Romanians who have never seen the Internet, Biblionet is continuing through the ANBPR national network and its training infrastructure.
In six years, Biblionet equipped over 2000 public libraries with computers, printers, scanners, software and internet connections. Local and regional training centres set up across Romania taught 4200 librarians computer skills, how to develop and deliver digital services and how to adapt to future technology upgrades. Thousands of library users also followed Biblionet courses to learn how to use the new equipment. It also developed local abilities to design and deliver content in person and online based.
This modernisation has brought new life to communities, reaching over 600 000 first time internet users. People can now find information, connect with medical services, look for work more easily or just watch a film online. And more people now come to libraries to use their services.
These digital hubs benefit more than individual communities. By increasing people’s digital skills and connecting Romanians to the internet, the project contributes to Romania’s development as a 21st-century digital economy.
- Equipped over 80% of Romania’s libraries with tech tools and Internet connectivity, reaching over 600 000 first-time Internet users.
- Trained 4200 librarians to use new technology to provide better services to library visitors and their communities.
- Created a robust professional development system, with 41 regional hubs and modernized content, so that librarians can continue to meet their communities’ increasingly complex needs.
- Supported ANBPR to serve its members and to increase its capacity to cultivate partnerships with private and public actors.
- Deepened government support for libraries at local, national, and European levels through advocacy initiatives, ranging from annual progress letters for local councils to international dialogue with European counterparts.
- Armed with data and success stories, Romanian librarians now engage officials from Bucharest to Brussels on the importance of the library sector in achieving local and national development goals.