Libraries For Everyone – LIFE Forum
Life after LIFE: New Horizons for the Municipal Libraries in Turkey was the final convening for the Turkish Libraries for Everyone program and was held in Antalya Turkey 2 - 4 October. I represented IFLA at this event.
Libraries for Everyone Program has been supported by stakeholders, private sector entities and NGOs including Global Libraries for the past 5 years. One of the big successes of the program has been making public / municipal libraries visible. There are few modern public library services in Turkey and this convening was a call to action to strengthen libraries and celebrate the projects that have been undertaken.
The Forum featured presentations by all seven regional INELI programs and representatives from each of the programs provided a summary of their work over the past 4 - 5 years. The program has had a significant impact on the library field and on the services and programs provided to communities. It is expected and hoped that the network that has been fostered during the duration of the program will be one of its most important and enduring legacies.
Following the opening speeches, I gave a keynote on Day 1 of the Forum on the IFLA Global Vision Project. The President of the Turkish Library Association, Ali Fuat Kartal, issued a call to action to the 20 Mayors that were present to provide sufficient resources to libraries to enable them to achieve their potential. Other speakers covered the training program undertaken by LIFE, the evaluation of the project, a presentation by the President of the Public Libraries Association and the aforementioned INELI presentations.
Day 2 focussed on specific programs including an Oral History program run out of the Greek National Library and the READ Global program which is providing support for building libraries and providing programs in Asia. There were also a number of reports on the projects that have been delivered in municipal libraries through the LIFE program. There are a number of health programs, including special programs for women, pre-literacy programs and digital literacy training.
Day 3 was a discussion on how libraries can continue the work of the program as it ends. Public libraries in Turkey are divided into those that are supported by the Central Government and those provided by municipalities. There is general agreement in the field that the local government libraries are more effective and this is the model that should be adopted throughout the country.
This was my first visit to Turkey and included my first swim in the Mediterranean! We also had time to visit Aspendos and Side. At Aspendos there is a well preserved and beautifully restored Roman theatre with great acoustics that is still used for concerts. Side is an ancient port city, known for its beaches and Greco-Roman ruins. In the centre are the remains of the 2nd-century Antique Theatre, which seated up to 15,000. The white marble columns of the Hellenistic Temple of Athena stand near the harbour. Fresh pomegranate juice and gozmele and beer completed a great Turkish experience.
The warm and generous hospitality of our host Mehmet Emin Kucuk and his team was much appreciated. I wish the Turkish municipal libraries all the very best and hope that we can strengthen the links between the library field and IFLA in Turkey.