On November 8 2022, Public Libraries 2030 hosted the final meeting for the NEWCOMER project at the Muntpunt Library in Brussels.
Started in 2020, the NEWCOMER project strove to create and develop a network of community centred librarians. Over the course of the project, the organisations partnered in this Erasmus+ project exchanged their community-centred initiatives throughout various meetings in each of the project countries. Alongside this, partners were able to visit various libraries and see firsthand how communities were placed at the heart of local libraries and were able to take this home with them.
As the project comes to its end as an Erasmus+ funded initiative, this final meeting in Brussels was the prime opportunity to reflect on all the initiatives we had the opportunity to learn about community librarianship over the past two years. We could not keep this knowledge to ourselves and were joined by forty library professionals from across Europe who got to hear from the project partners as well as external speakers about the importance of community librarianship.
One of the key things that we saw is that librarianship can be lonely. While we face similar issues across the sector, oftentimes it is difficult to connect with librarians in other countries and learning about their approaches to similar issues. David Lankes, PL2030 Board Member and Professor of Librarianship at the University of Texas, reminded us that librarianship is inherently local but it is vital to share skills and concepts across borders. We need to depart from the traditional approach of replication and adoption in the name of best practices and head towards community librarianship as a standard.
Equipped with the knowledge and inspiration from a variety of presentations and videos, we broke out into smaller groups to discuss community librarianship in service of climate, migration, adult learning, and co-creation and programming. When everyone gathered back, the insights from each group were shared in a fishbowl discussion before we wrapped up this final meeting with some final thoughts from the project partners.
While this project may have come to an end, all the partners have found the experience to be a source of positivity and energy in how they develop community librarianship in each of their libraries.