The objective of the project was to establish two identical educational centres, one in Olsztyn (Poland) and the second one in Marijampolė (Lithuania), and properly equip them so that they can operate as modern knowledge hubs for both children and senior citizens with an emphasis on fun and interactive innovative activities.
As part of the project both libraries were fully renovated and equipped with new furniture and computer hardware and software. They now contain computer rooms, an e-library, a game library, video and musical equipment, etc.
The renovated library in Olzstyn opened first and the partners in Marijampolė followed three months later taking on board the lessons learnt from their counterparts. The Polish team, who had conceived and was leading the project, organised a number of workshops as a transfer of experience for their CBC partners. As a result, both partners could test their equipment in virtual cross-border communication (like e-conferences and joint weather forecasting).
They conceived and run two programmes. The first one, covering young citizens (“Multichildren”), offered innovative activities to improve knowledge of languages, sciences, arts and music. The second one, conentrated on senior citizens (“Multiseniors”), aimed at improving their computer literacy and languages.
External and internal expert tutors carried out all these activities.
Local residents have taken free courses in computer, music, languages, science and art, taught by professional IT specialists, musicians, artists and teachers in a dynamic learning environment.
Working together allowed the libraries to share the costs of buying software, as well as to hold video conferences and other joint activities. The centres catered primarily for children and senior citizens including people with disabilities who took part in classes and other activities. More than 1,400 elderly citizens learnt how to operate a computer and write and send emails.
Everyone who took part in a course received a certificate of achievement. The courses did not only teach new skills and self-confidence, they also transformed the libraries’ public image from dull archives of old books into lively, unconventional learning institutions.
Aspects of good practice
Olsztyn and Marijampolė are the principal cities of their regions, both among the poorest in the EU. ICT skills and overall educational levels are severely lacking in both regions, which are dominated by agriculture and other traditional sectors.
By providing innovative and attractive learning methods for people of all ages, the multi-media centres sought to bring about the long-term economic and social rebirth of the regions. This is seen as very probable, given the fact that the centres are constantly filled with children and adults, learning new skills on the computers.
Local authorities in Olsztyn and Marijampolė have committed to financing the operation of the multi-media centres for five years, covering staff salaries and other expenses so that the centres can keep providing free services. The project has also prompted several joint initiatives between the centres and local schools, cultural institutions and other organisations.
Moreover, the success of this project has inspired the creation of seven similar centres in Poland and a second one in Lithuania.
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