Adult educators visit most advanced European libraries with Erasmus+ program

Visiting Reykjavik City Library

Panevėžys County Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė Public Library and its partners – municipal public libraries of Panevėžys region are implementing the Erasmus+ program accreditation project in the field of Adult Education. Project duration: 2021 03 01–2027 12 31.

The aim of the project is to strengthen the andragogical and managerial competencies of Panevėžys region public library specialists, preparing and implementing adult education programs, and to improve the quality of non-formal education.

Panevėžys County Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė Public Library, as the consortium coordinator, submits applications to the Education Exchanges Support Foundation for funding mobility visits to advanced European public libraries and other organizations providing adult education.

Specialists of Panevėžys region libraries working in the field of adult education take part in the mobility activities. All libraries of the region are involved in joint project activities and the professional development of adult educators is carried out in a targeted manner.

The first stage of the project started in September, 2021 and since then 3 job shadowing visits to European public libraries were organized.

In April, 2022 fifteen librarians from Panevėžys region visited Parnu Central Library (Estonia) and its branches. During their job shadowing visit, the participants of the project got acquainted with library services, activities and projects. Pernu Central Library is open to its visitors and adapting to their needs, located in modern spaces and not forgetting its most important mission – promoting reading and building a strong community.  

During the job shadowing visit, Lithuanian librarians were interested in collections, interlibrary loan service, activities of various clubs, cultural events for adult visitors, language learning opportunities in the library, use of databases.

The second job shadowing visit took place in May, 2022. Sixteen librarians from Panevėžys region visited Skelleftea City Library in Sweden. The participants of the visit were particularly impressed by the mutual trust and close relationship between the community and the library, library’s openness both in terms of physical (spaces) and fostering democratic values, special attention to encouraging children and young people to read, integration into the goals of the educational program, encouraging students to find reliable information and use it properly.

Lithuanian librarians heard about the More Open Library service successfully implemented in the smaller libraries of Skelleftea municipality – the possibility to come to the library and borrow books when there is no staff. Local librarians also shared the idea of another implemented innovation, Librarian on Demand, when a visitor comes to the library, when there are no employees there, they can virtually contact the librarian and ask questions.

The participants of the visit were interested in how the Scandinavian art of storytelling is used in Swedish libraries. In the small library of Jorn, they heard about the Furious festival, which has been successfully organized for several years, during which people, through the stories of their personal experiences, express what is important, painful and decisive for the entire local community, draw the attention of the local authorities and receives their support and problem solving.

The desire to make art and culture more accessible via public libraries, to attract young male users to the libraries, promoting sustainability, forming funds and changing the infrastructure of spaces according to the needs of visitors, social innovation projects for communities – all this and more drew the attention of the managers and specialists of the public libraries of Panevėžys region while visiting the Reykjavik City Library and its branches in October, 2022.

While visiting Icelandic libraries, library managers and specialists from Panevėžys region were interested in the services provided to adults, library activities and projects; innovative technologies and digital innovations applied in library services; attracting target groups of adult visitors to the library, including them in the process of non-formal adult education; library work with multicultural communities; applying sustainability ideas in library activities.

The participants of the visit also learned what challenges Icelandic libraries faced during the pandemic and got new inspiring ideas about the activities of reading promotion in Lithuanian libraries, ideas for activities of clubs for adult visitors.

In addition to job shadowing visits, the Erasmus+ program provides an opportunity for adult educators to go to selected courses, as well as to invite experts from the countries participating in the program who can help improve teaching and learning in the host organization, introduce new teaching methods or help transfer good practices. On the 30th of September–1st of October, 2022 the Icelandic writer and illustrator Kristín Ragna Gunnarsdóttir visited Panevėžys County Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė Public Library and shared her expert experience with youth educators. During the creative workshops, their participants were introduced to the characters of Scandinavian mythology, and visual art illustration techniques were introduced to them. Adult educators learned how elements of modern and traditional art can be creatively combined in illustration, got acquainted with the methods of preparing creative workshops, and learned how to prepare a lesson plan. During the creative workshop, educators tried various illustration techniques and created stories based on their illustrations. Adult educators say that after participating in classes with Kristín Ragna Gunnarsdóttir, they had ideas on how to attract young people to the library, to invite them to activities that develop imagination and creativity, combine elements of visual art and storytelling, and encourage young people to get to know written language better and to interpret the content of nation’s heritage in a modern way.

The participants of the project shared the experience and ideas gained during all the job shadowing visits, as well as plans for how these ideas will be applied at work, with their colleagues in virtual seminars.

Virginija Švedienė
Coordinator of Adult Education Activities