As part of our two-day event “Libraries and the Future of Europe” in Brussels, we hosted, with the support of Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Catharina Rinzema (NL, Renew), a breakfast meeting between library professionals and MEP Library Lovers. Our focus was on child safety online and how libraries support this and can further boost this through new activities.

After a quick introduction from MEP Catharina Rinzema, we heard from Rosanna Di Gioia from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre as well as from Hannelore Vogt, Director of the Cologne Public Library and PL2030 Board Member. Hannelore Vogt presented the expansive digital services and activities the Cologne Public Library and its branches offer to its community to foster digital inclusion. Rosanna Di Gioia dove into the importance of a safe environment online for children and how libraries can support this through various activities including media literacy education. 

MEP Sabine Verheyen (DE, EPP), Chair of the Culture and Education Committee in the European Parliament, was one of the MEPs in the room and we were able to hear a few framing words from her. Her perspective on libraries is that they provide a soul for communities and are crucial spaces for knowledge, play, and integration. MEP Marc Angel (LU, S&D) seconded her view that libraries are vital for social cohesion and integration. We also heard from other MEPs in attendance including MEP Michaela Šojdrová (CZ, EPP) who stated that the library sector has the full support of the European Parliament to achieve their digital work and MEP Ivars Ījabs (LV, Renew) who stressed the importance of libraries especially in times of crisis as they offer warm and welcoming spaces. Finally, MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (FI, EPP) introduced the notion of libraries as inherently sustainable institutions from the buildings to the way they offer knowledge and skills with MEP Stelios Kympouropoulos (EL, EPP) adding that accessibility – whether it is concerning the buildings, activities, or resources – is crucial to achieving sustainability in libraries.

This meeting was a great exchange between library professionals and MEPs and a source of inspiration for all involved. Check out photos from this meeting and the inspiring presentations we heard!