Project “School libraries – Promoters of the Dialogue of Cultures” (2007 – 2008), funded by EU Phare and SFL).
The aim put forward in the project „School libraries – Promoters of the Dialogue of Cultures” to contribute to the ethnic consolidation of a civic society in Latvia and integration of society, based on common values through cooperation of school libraries (schools with different languages of instruction) as well as the specific goals of the project, namely, firstly, in order to promote the ethnic integration and ensure the dialogue of cultures, to involve in the project the school librarians from Latvian language and minority language schools from different regions of Latvia and offer them master a qualitative in-service model with diverse content; secondly, to disseminate information in order to help representatives of different ethnic groups to develop the feeling of belonging to the state by a more deeper understanding one’s own cultural values and traditions and those of other ethnic groups living in Latvia; thirdly, to promote the development of school libraries into cultural centers which facilitates the dialogue of cultures among people of different nationalities and different age groups; fourthly, to promote integration processes and the dialogue of cultures in society in local, regional and national level, providing basis for different school libraries to cooperate, participate in common activities to gain new knowledge, skills and attitudes and to share the experience, to disseminate the acquired positive experience in the whole country have been successfully attained. The project in its run established a network and involved 36 librarians from school libraries (12 in Daugavpils region, 12 in Liepaja region and 12 in Riga region). All the project activities were implemented according to the previously established plan, which included 13 monthly meetings of the project team, three workshops for creating the professional development course “Reading strategies for promoting the dialogue of cultures” (36 hours), which resulted in a designed in-service program “Diverse approaches in the librarians’ work for promoting reading and the dialogue of culture” that was approved and licensed by the Ministry of Education and Science, Republic of Latvia. The involved school librarians acquired the new program and the teaching/learning approach in 4 workshops, which were followed by the project team’s consultations in the respective schools in order to help the project participants to plan and organize the regional approbation workshops. Altogether the school librarians working in small teams organized 18 approbation workshops in three regions of Latvia (Kurzeme, Latgale, Riga) in which attracted 456 participants, including other librarians, teachers, parents, grandparents, pupils and others interested in the dialogue of cultures, which significantly exceeds the planned beneficiaries for this activity (namely 225 participants). The project ended with the final international conference of the project “The Dialogue of Cultures in the Countries of the Baltic Sea region”, which took place in Riga on July 31, 2008 (there were 185 participants from 27 countries, including the project participants). The results of the project are described and reflected in three articles published in the newspaper “Izglītība un kultūra”, the regional newspapers and electronic media as well as in the home page of the Education Development centre: www.iac.edu.lv. The project experience material was prepared and published, which includes the most important information on the project, the participants’ reflections on the project, the increased public awareness about tolerance, but mainly the participants’ sharing of experience and materials concerning the issues of promoting the dialogue of cultures and society integration. Thus the implementation of the project has promoted the dialogue of cultures, broadened cultural contacts among ethnic groups and facilitated the process of developing the school libraries into local cultural centers. The project has promoted the mutual understanding, cooperation and tolerance of school librarians and different societal groups in the context of the dialogue of cultures. The project has resulted in increased experience and professional skills of the project team and the project participants – the school librarians- concerning the work and life in a multicultural society.