Public Library ‘Dušan Matic’ Cuprija introduced their innovative Biblioteka++ project to tackle two problems facing information technology (IT) teachers and learners in Serbia: firstly, schools teach computer coding theory, but do not have sufficient equipment to enable students to put their theory into practice, and secondly, the tight school timetable means there is limited time for practical sessions. As a result, students lose interest in IT and are less likely to take up careers in technology.
THE INNOVATIVE SERVICE
The library’s innovative solution was to introduce extramural, practical IT classes in the library and at schools. With a small grant from the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) the library equipped a computer laboratory with laptops and robotics kits, and trained librarians to teach young people computer coding skills.
Working with teachers from local primary and secondary schools, the library launched a programme of workshops. The teaching methodology was interactive and fun. Using the equipment and free and open source coding software, the children learnt how to create useful problem solving software, web applications, and to write computer code to make robots move.
The classes quickly became popular in the town of Cuprija and neighbouring Jagodina, which is the administrative centre of Central Serbia.
ACHIEVEMENTS AND IMPACT
In just 18 months, the library -
- Organized 154 extramural workshops in which 500 young people learnt practical coding skills. In addition, librarians and teachers provided one-to-one counselling for students who wanted information about possible future careers in IT.
- Developed a lively website where young computer programmers are sharing knowledge, showcasing their work and finding information about further IT skills development.
- Conducted fun robotics workshops at the popular Serbian Regional Fair for Science, Education and Culture, and organized two Biblioteka++ events for European Code Week 2014.
The project inspired 13 graduates of a mathematics college to enrol for further study at an IT college in Belgrade. It won recognition from primary and secondary schools, where teachers have adopted the practical Biblioteka++ approach in their classes.
The Cuprija Municipality was so impressed with the project that it helped equip the library’s computer laboratory and has committed to providing the library with space to run activities for youth in a new cultural centre being created in Cuprija. The municipality will also provide funding to sustain the library’s technology workshops in future.
EIFL-PLIP PROJECT TIMELINE
May 2014 - December 2015.
About Public Library ‘Dušan Matic’ Cuprija
The library serves Cuprija municipality in Pomoravlje region in central Serbia, attracting over 300 library users a day. The library advances community development by providing access to print resources, computers, the internet, publishing facilities, technology training and cultural programmes.