Cohesion of Libraries and Schools for Community Participation

"Today, young people will go to the library less often just for books. They should see the library as a place where they can develop their own initiatives with their friends, work on projects, lay the foundation for what will further develop their village, district or city.“

This is the perspective of community libraries that the project manager Ketevan Abazashvili envisions for Georgia. As the representative of International Association Civitas Georgica, she facilitated citizens engagement within seven different municipalities. Thanks to the creation of the participatory workshop methodology, vibrant discussions with V4 experts and active involvement of young people, representatives of libraries realized that they can play important part in building local communities.

The project Cohesion of Public Libraries and Schools for Greater Community Participation ensured the provision of comprehensive knowledge to enhance interventions and networking opportunities for local actors. Communication between diverse stakeholders has been heavily affected by pandemic and the lack of social cohesion. Within this initiative, libraries, public schools and local public authorities came together to revitalize deactivated community participation in seven different municipalities of Georgia. For many of these regions, this was the first step to show that libraries can be at the heart of these changes and that librarians can facilitate such processes.

The project also gave great motivation to the students who have been equipped with tools and methods to successfully involve citizens in their initiatives. In addition to participating in seminars on democratic participation and winter camp, they had the opportunity to face issues affecting their communities. For the first time, students met with local authorities and became advocates for their own needs in the community (e.g. improving public space, road safety, violence prevention, promoting healthy lifestyle). Throughout this process, they have seen the role of librarians as “allies” who can make their voice even more heard.

Grantee and its partners are fully aware of how lengthy the process of improving community engagement can be. However, they see the resources that lie in the groups involved and this is their guiding principle. They seek to further facilitate an enabling environment for improved interconnection between libraries, schools and public authorities.