MANY small local libraries have not grown in decades because they are not able to pay for new books. However, public libraries in the Prešov Region can expect that to change, as the Culture Ministry will grant nearly Sk2.5 million to the region for the development of its library network.
"The ministry has allocated money for public libraries, so we took our chance [by applying for the funds] and were successful," Marta Skalková of the standards department of the Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav Library in Prešov told The Slovak Spectator.
Prešov holds the unofficial Slovak record for the number of libraries within a region. There are 558 public libraries in the region's towns and villages: six regional libraries, 16 town libraries and the rest are village libraries. However, 495 of them are run by volunteer librarians who work for no money or a symbolic wage.
Skalková's department provides small public libraries and village mayors with the assistance and information they need to make sure their libraries meet standards. Standards department employees often visit the villages to see how the libraries are doing.
"They would always complain about the lack of money and they would request more finances to buy new books," Skalková said. "Now we have found a way to provide them with the financial support they need through the ministry's grants."
The standards department worked closely with the libraries to keep them well informed and encourage them to apply for the grants. They even put on a seminar for those interested in applying.
According to Skalková, the libraries could apply for two different grants from the ministry. One grant sub-programme focuses on technical support and modernisation, allowing libraries to install internet connections and automate some of their operations. That automation includes developing an electronic library catalogue and using bar codes for the books. Connecting libraries to the internet makes it possible for the general public to go online at the library.
The libraries can use the grants to purchase the hardware and software needed for developing those services.
Grants for enlarging the book stocks are part of another sub-programme, which will bring a large number of new books to the library network, Skalková said. Programme applicants have to contribute an amount equal to the Culture Ministry's grant.
Andrea Dohovičová of the Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav Library said that the goal is to develop a network of high-quality libraries.
"In the European Union, libraries are respected institutions and being a librarian is one of the most attractive jobs, which really cannot be said about Slovakia," Dohovičová said.
9. Jul 2007 at 0:00 | Michaela Terenzani , Michaela Stanková