From the 23-24 of October, the Lisbon Public Libraries Network hosted the third in-person meeting of the Future of Europe for Public Libraries (FEPL) project. Over the course of the two-day meeting, nearly 50 library professionals from across Europe gathered in Lisbon’s Galveias Library and Estrela Garden Library to reflect on how public libraries can contribute to strengthening democracy in Europe. The programme included presentations, workshops, and debates on topics such as: curatorial activism, power sharing, activist librarianship and utopias for the future of libraries.

This follows the previous camps hosted by De Krook library in Ghent on digital futures in March 2023, and Dokk1 in Aarhus on sustainability in May 2023.

Inspiring presentations, workshops and democracy fitness training

The meeting kicked off with a message from Dubravka Šuica, Vice President of the EU Commission in charge of Democracy and Demography! This was followed by a series of engaging presentations and interactive activities, including a ‘Democracy fitness training’. Throughout the day, participants heard from inspiring speakers on a variety of topics – from activist librarianship and curatorship, to participative policy making, and the importance of building a (local and global) democratic infrastructure. The day wrapped up with an open discussion between participants on participation fatigue and other reflections from the day.

The second day of the camp began with simultaneous Ignite sessions on ‘Bibliogamers’ (Marvila Public Library), ‘Grounding our practice: Moving from participatory to a planetary approach!’ (Aarhus Public Libraries), ‘Mobil libraries and peripheral urban territories’ (Lisbon Library Network), and ‘Take over by youngsters in Ghent’ (De Krook Library). SOMA LAB then facilitated a ‘Utopia workshop: Brave (New) Libraries’ where participants were split off into groups to brainstorm on various topics including mental health and diversity and inclusion. FEPL project partners concluded the meeting by summarising the previous sustainability and digital camps in Aarhus and Ghent, and providing participants with an outlook for what’s to come. 

Next steps

As the FEPL project wraps up in the spring of 2024, PL2030 and its partners will be working on a final report which will compile the teachings, takeaways and discussion points from the three camps, to be made publicly available. This is intended to support the exchange between public libraries on these topics, and ensure we use a common language when working on these topics at EU level.

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Discover the full album with pictures from the camp here.

© CML | DMC | DRB | João Barata