Reconstruction of Libraries in Kosovo

Initiatives to begin the reconstruction of public libraries in the
war-torn province of Kosovo were agreed at a recent meeting in The Hague.

Representatives of key players agreed a plan of action, which would
establish a network of mobile libraries throughout the country.
65 library buildings had been destroyed or severely damaged during
the recent conflict. Following the recommendations of a recent report
on libraries in Kosovo [see note], it was agreed that the quickest and
most effective way to serve the needs of people, in the greatest number
of communities, would be a mobile library and information service. The Open Society Institute in Kosovo, \'KFOS\', has already ordered one
vehicle. Two others are expected to be funded by donors, and sources
for several more are currently being sought. All vehicles will provide
Internet access. The United Nations\' civil administration in Kosovo,
UNMIK, has agreed to provide security for the service and to ensure
its continuation after completion of the initial projects.

Other initiatives agreed were:
To establish a Kosovo Libraries Consortium, consisting of
key players, to act as the focal point, linking international interests
with interests in Kosovo
To take steps to establish an effective library infrastructure
in Kosovo, including a Kosovo Library Council, which would give
advice, and make recommendations to relevant bodies, on library and
information services and on projects and expenditure
To develop the role of the National and University Library, to
enable it to provide central technical services and a range of
services to support libraries at the regional and local level
To develop a network of regional resource centres, supporting
all types of libraries in their districts
To hold seminars and workshops to disseminate best practice.

It was agreed to hold the next meeting of the group in Prishtina, and
to plan a general conference of library staff in Kosovo and a training
workshop on the same occasion.

Ross Shimmon, Secretary General of IFLA, who chaired the meeting, said:
\"Libraries are a vital tool for reconstruction and the establishment of
democracy. That is why we need to rebuild the library network in Kosovo,
where people lack truly basic necessities such as houses, heating, and
electricity.\" He stressed that the meeting was determined that the
thought-provoking, yet practical, report Libraries in Kosova/Kosovo
should not, like so many others, be left to gather dust on the shelves.
\"I believe that the key international agencies, working closely
with librarians and local communities can help make a difference
to people\'s lives\", he said.

Ross Shimmon or Sjoerd Koopman
Tel: +31 70 31 40884
Fax: +31 70 3834827

1. Libraries in Kosovo/Kosova: a general assessment
and a short and medium-term development plan is the report by Carsten
Frederiksen and Frode Baken, of a mission undertaken by them on the
behalf of UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the International Federation
of Library Associations (IFLA) Freedom of Access to Information and
Freedom of Expression (FAIFE) Office. Copies are available from:
IFLA/FAIFE Office, Islands Brygge 37, DK 2300, COPENHAGEN S.
Denmark. Tel: +45 33 66 46 27/37 Fax: +45 33 66 70 64
Representatives of UNESCO, IFLA, UNMIK, and the
Open Society Institute attended the meeting, together with the two
authors of the report. The Director of the National and University
Library of Kosovo and the representative of the Council of Europe were
planning to attend, but were unable to do so at the last minute.

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