INELI-ASEAN Project Directors Attend INELI-Balkans Convening in Athens, Greece
By Blesila P. Velasco
The International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI) in the Balkans Region (INELI-Balkans) Project is a two-year project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that has three (3) main activities: 1) Extensive online training that provides motivation to the innovators and the ability to share knowledge, conduct strategic planning, and develop a project for new library services; 2) Networking meetings or annual meetings that include workshops, study visits, mentoring sessions, and time for socializing, with the aim to train the innovators to build mutual trust and encourage cooperation, and; 3) Implementation of innovative services, five (5) most successful projects with new library services developed by innovators with funding and administration support such that the projects can be implemented in the innovators’ libraries.
The INELI-Balkans Project 1st Convening was held in Thessaloniki, Greece on November 25-29, 2015. The main objective is to bring together librarians as innovators from eleven (11) countries and build a sustainable network that will encourage mutual cooperation and creation of innovative library services, e-learning, and experimenting with new ideas. It was participated in by 35 innovators from 11 Balkans countries (i.e., Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Greece, Croatia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia, and Kosovo), 11 ambassadors, and 5 mentors participating in the Project who monitored the work of innovators and offered them necessary assistance throughout the Project.
The 2nd Convening was held in Sofia, Bulgaria on November 25-28, 2016. It was a four-day of knowledge sharing, idea pitching, creative expression and fun for Innovators. In this convening, winners of Innovation Awards were announced.
On September 1-2, 2017, the 3rd and the last convening of the INELI-Balkans was held at the New National Library of Greece, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, Greece. Mesdames Blesila P. Velasco and Xenia B. Romero, Project Director and Assistant Director of the INELI-ASEAN, respectively, were invited to attend the convening and to share Status, Outcomes, Prospective Impact, Envisioned Future, and Partial Results of the INELI-ASEAN Project. This Convening was joined in by 53 participants which include innovators, ambassadors, mentors and facilitators from Learning4Life. Ms. Deborah Jacobs, Director of Global Libraries, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Ms. Despina Gerasimidou, IFLA Global Vision Project Officer; Mr. David Streatfield and Mr. Rob Davies, Impact Assessment of the Project Consultants, and Mr. Luis Gonzales of INELI-Latin America, also joined in. Invited talks, regional implementers panel discussion with question and answer, presentation of interesting projects responding to urgent social issues in the region, workshops, graduation time, and library visits, among others, were the activities carried out in the Convening.
The INELI-Balkans 3rd Convening was an opportune time for INELI-ASEAN to collaborate personally with other regional implementers and funders, to observe the implementation and proceedings of their convening, to interview their innovators, to listen to their sustainability plans, and most importantly, to get major takeaways and lessons learned as co-regional implementers of INELI. All these were very helpful for INELI-ASEAN in the conduct of their 3rd Convening on November 27-30, 2017 in Hanoi, Viet Nam.