Information Society Development Foundation (PL: Fundacja Rozwoju Społeczeństwa Informacyjnego)
What we do?
We support thousands of public libraries all over Poland in developing their services and help them play the role of local centers of social activity. We offer training and consultations to non-profit organisations throughout Poland. We help schools and teachers to embrace digital tools in classes and introduce modern active teaching methods. We place great importance on strengthening networks, which creates opportunities for various environments to meet one another and exchange experiences. Our knowledge and experience are our input into domestic and international cooperation networks.
Strengths and potential of libraries
We cooperate with the network of approximately 4,000 public libraries in Poland. Many libraries have been offering help to people who arrived in Poland from Ukraine since the war began. They provide the newcomers with basic information concerning legal issues, accommodation, transport, healthcare and other facilities made available for them. They organise actions of fundraising and disseminating necessary articles for refugees. Librarians themselves engage in charitable work on a voluntary basis, together with local residents, other institutions and NGOs. Librarians living or working close to the Polish-Ukrainian border are directly involved in the activities of reception centers. Many libraries throughout Poland are offering cultural, educational or social activities to the newcomers, such as ‘welcoming’ meetings, packages of basic information in Ukrainian, special collections of Ukrainian literature, Polish classes for kids, etc.
We assume that within a few months, after the refugees have settled in local communities across the whole Poland, they will need access to public spaces that offer educational resources and activities, and are safe, free of charge and friendly. Public libraries in Poland act as institutions of non-formal education for adults, seniors, children and youth. They offer digital education, financial education, coding and STEAM education, and a great range of cultural activities. They teach local residents how to use e-services, how to look for a job, how to identify fake news and check the credibility of information. Libraries operating in multicultural communities have some experience and an offer dedicated to residents of different cultural backgrounds. But currently only a few libraries in Poland have such an offer.
Opportunities for civil society organisations
We are a member of a consortium that implements the Active Citizens Fund – Regional programme that is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants. The programme’s objective is to strengthen the sustainability of civil society organisations in Poland and foster civil society with diversity, equal treatment and dialogue at its core. Within the current call for proposals which is open till March 29th civil society organisations (independently or in partnership with other entities, e.g. libraries and schools) can apply for funding projects aimed at the protection of rights of refugees from Ukraine or supporting their integration to the communities: https://aktywniobywatele-regionalny.org.pl/en/call-2/
Main areas of work
Our main goal is to develop a model of the library offering the above-mentioned services to people from Ukraine and other refugees and migrants as well as to create a training course for librarians on how to implement this model in their communities. We understand ‘a model’ as a set of complex solutions covering: needs assessment, collections, readership, educational services, communication with target groups and advocacy. As a result, we expect that refugees will as much as possible be able to use their potential as citizens and employees as well and become respected members of a host community.
As a result of internal discussions, three areas of our potential activities have emerged, aimed primarily at libraries. Activities addressed to the community organisations and schools are yet to be developed. These include information and educational activities that will support integration of refugees into Polish communities and help the Polish society welcome people from Ukraine.
- development of a compendium of knowledge on the use of ICT tools for learning, dealing with practical issues in everyday life, educational opportunities in Poland, integration of refugees and refugee women into the community – to be used by organisations and institutions directly supporting people who arrive from Ukraine; especially to support libraries engaged in ongoing assistance to people who arrive from Ukraine – see https://bibliotekidlaukrainy.org.pl/;
- supporting public libraries to help them design an offer of local activities dedicated to the reception of refugees, including a great range of cultural and educational activities for migrants;
- other educational activities including counteracting misinformation and manifestations of racist behaviour. Part of this will be any activities carried out by libraries that promote knowledge about countries of origin (focus on Ukraine) and their culture. Our experience in the field – http://zrozum.org/.
The activities described above will be one of ISDF’s priorities in the coming years. The scale of the activities described above – and new ones that will emerge – depends on the resources at our disposal.
- A team of 20+ professionals (areas of expertise: online and blended learning, informal education/out-of-school education of children and youth and adults using ICT tools, supporting local activities through public libraries and other local actors, English proficiency and Russian in several team members),
- community of librarians www.biblioteki.org and library friends on https://www.labib.pl/, network of ICT educators across Poland https://sektor3-0.pl/
- information and education platforms adapted to the needs of libraries, schools/teachers
- an office in the centre of Warsaw
- yearly budget app. 2 mln EUR
Katarzyna Morawska: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jacek Królikowski: email@example.com