By Mereseini Marau-Totoka
Public libraries and archives stakeholders from the region will for the first time explore opportunities for utilising the power of libraries to help deliver the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals in a summit in Suva this Friday.
The Summit will be opened by Fiji's Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
It will be a major gathering of key library stakeholders, leaders, practitioners, innovators and supporters representing governments, NGO’s, regional and international aid agencies, embassies, libraries and archives from across the Pacific.
The Summit will culminate in the first ever region-wide Pacific Libraries Vision and Call to Action to inspire Pacific collaboration in advancing the development of public library services and to build and strengthen a supportive network that ensures public libraries are resourced and equipped to undertake their vitally important work in communities.
Public Libraries and their dedicated staff improve lives significantly by providing universal access to local and global information resources, reading and information literacy development, lifelong learning programmes, technology infrastructure and digital skills. A public library in a community delivers safe space for knowledge growth, social connection and fulfilment of potential.
Keynote Speaker Kirsty Sword Gusmao has worked tirelessly over many years to improve education, health and economic opportunities for the people of Timor-Leste and looks forward to delivering her keynote address and participating in the summit discussions.
“I am a strong advocate for public libraries and the positive impact they deliver in lifting reading literacy rates and education. Having established the Xanana Gusmao Reading Room I am acutely aware of the opportunities for community enrichment, empowerment, connection and active citizenry delivered as a result of the important work undertaken in libraries”, she said, adding “I am excited by the prospect of co-operation in the library sector across the Pacific region.”
The summit is organised by the steering committee and staff of the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI) Oceania with support from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Libraries, library associations and organisations.
Chair of INELI Oceania Allison Dobbie is very pleased to see the great number and diversity of participants already confirmed to attend. “I am a great believer in people working together to deliver solutions. When we collaborate we take things to a whole other level,” she said.
INELI Oceania is based on the highly successful International Network of Library Innovators (INELI), a project of the Global Libraries initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which since 2011 has provided emerging library leaders with opportunities to connect with each other, to explore new ideas, to experiment with new services and to learn from one another.
The primary objectives of the INELI Oceania programme are to identify, nurture, and develop innovative emerging library leaders in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific through an online learning programme, network opportunities and fostering partnerships and collaboration of stakeholders in the region. The two cohorts who have completed INELI-Oceania Programme will be in attendance at the summit.
A Library Advocacy workshop for local library practitioners from the Pacific area is being held today (Thursday) to build greater awareness of the United Nations 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals and how libraries can contribute to them and their nation’s development priorities. This will also be an opportunity to build leadership confidence and networks across the Pacific to strengthen opportunities for collaborative action.