Agricultural libraries in Jagodina, Serbia

With the Articles of Association – the decree by King Petar on 27th April 1909 – the Public Library in Jagodina was established. The Jagodina Public Library is a modern institution with a long tradition of working with books, respecting and satisfying cultural and educational needs of the citizens. It is the parent library for the Pomoravski district and it is the hub of the library and information system of the region. The Library won prestigious awards including Surep’s award ( during the 80’s of the 20th century), the highest award regarding Serbian libraries, and also three international awards for the AgroLib Ja project-by the American organization Beyond Access for its originality and innovation, WSIS 2013 Project Prize for excellence, the ERSTE Foundation Honorary Award for Social Integration 2013, and the Presidential Citation for the best innovative library project 2014 by the American Library Association. It is a member of the Beyond Access organization, based in Washington DC, whose tag-line is We believe libraries can power social and economic development.
• In addition to determination to improve library services and expand the range of users, the Library consistently tries and succeeds in imposing itself as a center of the local community, a sort of information hub. The project AgroLib Ja (Agricultural Libraries in Jagodina) offers entirely new access to revitalization of the rural libraries network and the use of new information technologies. The project AgroLib Ja was launched by the Public Library in Jagodina in April 2010 thanks to the support from the international organization EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries).
• The Jagodina City Council plays key role in the successful development of the project by supporting it. The project partners are the City Council, the Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises and Registered Agricultural Households, the Agricultural Advisory Service of Jagodina and the Office for Economic development of Jagodina, which provide different trainings for farmers, agricultural expertise and information.
Today, in five villages of the Jagodina municipality there are functional libraries with free Internet access and agricultural books and journals. Libraries, equipped with modern information and communication technology, provide more access to information and participation in the development of communities to their beneficiaries.
• Key outputs:
Over 900 farmers, today, regularly visit the village libraries and use the AgroLib-Ja services.

  1. Agricultural lectures
  2. Sharing best practices
  3. Agricultural journals and literature
  4. On-line marketplace- AgroLib
  5. Free Internet access and ICT training
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• In three years about 200 farmers were trained to use the Internet. 87% of farmers say they use the Internet at the library to look for agricultural information. Farmers’ ICT literacy increases through using computers and Internet in the libraries with the assistance from the librarians.
• In just three years, more than 1,000 farmers attended panel discussions and lecturers. Their agricultural production is enhanced by applying what they read in agricultural journals and books and hear in agricultural lectures in the libraries; their awareness to available government subsidies and incentives increases with the help of the librarians and the project partners;
• The AgroLib-Ja website www.agrolib.rs , launched by the Library, is for farmers, or people who deal with old crafts or village tourism. Farmers have the opportunity to share best practices in their rural libraries and through the on-line portal. Their financial situation improves through advertising on the on-line marketplace for farmers AgroLib marketplace.
The objectives of the project:
– to make libraries information and communication hubs of local communities and to equip them with books and contents for all residents of the community (children, students, persons with higher education, pensioners, farmers, etc.)- by hosting lectures in village libraries, to help farmers improve their production, or start a new agricultural business ( through reading agricultural books and journals, organizing agricultural lectures, discussions and lectures in order to present examples of good practice…)- by hosting ICT training for farmers ( browsing certain websites, applications for subsidies, filling in applications…), to help farmers use new information technologies as a source of information regarding perspective grants by the Serbian Government, as well as the development of agricultural business.

– to help farmers sell their produce on-line. The Jagodina Public Library offers the web portal AgroLib marketplace.

• Project goals:– Transformation of the existing network of village libraries into modern village libraries that meet the needs of modern residents of a local community and the increasing number of library services- Improvement of agricultural production and reduction of poverty
• Project target group:
– Rural residents, especially farmers- Community leading figures, especially those dealing with farmers• Mission

To make the model- Agricultural Libraries in Jagodina, proving successful and of high-quality, available, generally known and paradigmatic for the development of libraries in Serbia.

• Vision
Village libraries in Serbia, belonging to the network of modern agricultural libraries of Serbia, become strong information hubs of local communities with services that people like using.• The AgroLib Ja project and projects by other libraries with similar ideas show that rural libraries should be given a new role in modern librarianship. Rural libraries should become education, information, communication and cultural hubs in their local communities.Rural libraries trigger huge social and economic changes in their local communities and beyond.
• Detailed description of the project
Context and the needs (justification of the project)
In Serbia, there is a network of 311 rural libraries with no new books or services adapted to the needs of rural community residents. Serbian rural libraries are not maintained and developed, the number of beneficiaries is descreasing, a lot of libraries has been closed. About half of the population in Serbia lives in rural areas and has no public libraries to use. Also, the problem in Serbian rural areas is information literacy and poverty. The network of rural libraries, recognized as places where farmers learn to use new information technologies, places for professional education, exchange of experiences and knowledge, and places with services for other residents of rural areas, could be modern libraries that will meet the needs of 21th century users.
By revitalizing the existing network of rural libraries in Serbia and introducing new services that would address the needs of rural residents of local communities, rural libraries would become information, communication and cultural hubs of their local communities. (based on the project Agricultural libraries in Jagodina).
• Future development plans
The successful model of Agricultural Libraries developed in Jagodina can be introduced and applied in all Serbian village libraries. The learning process is based on the successful and efficient method- from a librarian to a librarian: mentors regularly share their knowledge and experience to colleagues in other libraries (mentoring model), while in a seminar, librarians-trainers share their knowledge directly with colleagues who do the same type of work. In the seminar, besides presentation ,there is interactive discussion which contributes to the maximization of the effect.