Getting to know NECE projects – Jacek Królikowski for the “Library Development Program”

Jacek Królikowski

“It’s not as simple as saying that everything is available on the Internet” opens Jacek Królikowski our conversation about his interest in civic education. “Some people are not online, some are not even using a personal computer.” The Library Development Program, which Mr. Królikowski is presenting at this NECE conference, aims at helping libraries in rural Poland to transfer to cultural centers for community needs.

The project has been running in rural areas and smaller cities up to 20.000 people for more than two years now. “In these areas libraries often are the only public space – available to everybody and providing services free of charge,” Mr. Królikowski says. The Programme uses these places to encounter and support those digitally not included by teaching them how to use Internet tools in search for knowledge. The Library Development Programme provides free equipment, free digital cameras and free digital education. For example they show elderly people how to use Skype to keep in touch with their family members working and living abroad. A situation quite common to many Polish families.

But making connections can also be understood as a tool of civic education, Mr. Królikowski explains. “People in Polish rural areas have a strong sense of community but they are not very aware of  the rights they have”, he says. Often they were afraid to point out problems to the Mayor because they were afraid to lose their jobs, he says.

Using the Internet they can make a connection between political developments on a global scale and in the own community; to draw a line between a protest in Warsaw and what’s going on in the own community. “Do we have disabled persons in our community? Is our library available for disabled people?” according to Mr. Królikowski libraries should be places to raise and discuss questions like these.

Conference Day: