Libraries- the Village Gathering Places

Libraries- the Village Gathering Places

Farmers who live in the Jagodina municipality go to the village libraries every day to improve their businesses.

Due to lack of funds and outdated books, there are less village libraries in Serbia.

The Jagodina Library created the program of reviving village libraries. After years of adapting to the needs of local residents, village libraries are now operating very successfully.

Before applying anything in his agricultural production, Žarko Milić always reads agricultural literature. This time he is interested in plums.

„I got literature from Svetlana, the librarian, read it, and then I planted two species of nut trees which are extraordinary and have already begun to bear fruit. I still come to the library, I am a regular reader, and I want to plant three acres of plum trees“, says Mr. Milić.

The Bagrdan Library used to be closed for 20 years, before the re-opening thanks to the Jagodina Library project.

The idea is simple- fill the shelves with books that interest farmers.

„ I am glad to help farmers who come to the library and ask for help- how to plant nuts, or plums… I can extract all the necessary information from both literature and websites“, explains Svetlana Krstić, the librarian in Bagrdan.

More than 1,000 people in agricultural lectures and panel discussions

In addition to new books, farmers can attend free ICT training. Branislav Milanović, a beekeeper, had his first encounter with a computer and Internet in the library.

„ I thought that the library is only for children who read books… However, there is also Internet access, and the library can help with anything. “

For locals, what is of particular help is the online marketplace Agrolib, where they can find buyers for their produce.

„ The Jagodina village libraries show very clearly how a good idea that recognizes the needs of local residents can improve their lives in a short time. Thanks to Agrolib website, several hundred farmers sell their produce throughout the region“, reports Jelena Milutinović.

Such concept of village libraries can be found in four more villages in the Jagodina municipality. And all of them are very busy. The libraries have become gathering places for farmers.

„ We come here almost every day. On Tuesdays, we have a market day in the village, so we all gather and we practically have not enough room for all of us. We get together, talk about everything-beekeeping, agriculture, and other things“, says Mr. Milanović.

More than 1,000 people attend panel discussions

The project Agrolib has won numerous international awards and recognitions. The most significant is the one by the American Library Association (ALA), but also the one from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Librarians from Vranje, Aleksinac, Štip, Bijelo Polje are also interested in the Agrolib program.

What makes us especially proud is that today around 900 rural residents use agricultural library services; more than 1,000 people have visited our agricultural lectures and panel discussions, and thousands of people use our website annually, says Vesna Crnković, the Jagodina Library director.

Thanks to the library membership card, Branslav has won new markets. Honey from his beehives now goes beyond the borders of Serbia.

Source: Al Jazeera