Libraries in Kosova/Kosovo. A general assessment and a short and medium-term development plan
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- Biblioteket 
Original versionFrederiksen, C. & Bakken, F. Libraries in Kosova/Kosovo. A general assessment and a short and medium-term development plan. Copenhagen, IFLA/FAIFE, 2000
The UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosova (UNMIK) and the library professionals in Kosova face a major task to reconstruct library buildings and re-establish library services at all levels. This is the overall conclusion of an assessment of the situation concerning libraries performed by a joint expert mission of UNESCO, the Council of Europe (CoE) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, IFLA. The mission has been carried out during the period from February 25th to March 7th by Mr. Carsten Frederiksen, Deputy director of the IFLA I FAIFE Office in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Mr. Frode Bakken, President of the Norwegian Library Association. The mission has been generously supported by the librarians' organisations in Scandinavia. The National and University Library and other special libraries are in decay, the preservation of cultural heritage in terms of printed materials endangered and the national systems to record and disseminate documents are practically out of function. Large parts of the valuable collections in the National and University Library have been removed and probably destroyed during the period 1990-1999. Many public and school libraries, especially in the countryside, have been totally burned down, others have had their book collections removed or destroyed, and those who are still functioning suffer from the effects of almost 10 years of neglect in acquisitions. Equally many library books have been burned along with the homes of users. An estimated total of almost half the stocks of all the public libraries are lost. A great part of the remaining books are either outdated or irrelevant to local inhabitants due to their ideological, linguistic or ethnic character. Practically all equipment has been removed and most of the present staff needs training after a long period without professional practice and systematic education. There is no co-operation, or even contact, between professionals of the ethnic Albanian majority and professionals in ethnic Serbian enclaves. In general there is a heavy need for reading rooms, children's literature, current professional literature and access to new technology. International support in terms of funding and professional assistance is now needed to reconstruct libraries and a functioning library network. Library services can be an important, and fairly easily applicable, tool in the promotion of reading, education and culture in a region with few or no other offerings and a population with a large share of children and youth. Libraries can, not least in an area like Kosova, provide local gateways to knowledge, reflect the plurality and diversity of society and support the process of democratisation. 6 The Kosova Library Mission proposes a three to four years action plan, Kosova Library Project 2000+, for the rehabilitation and enforcement of libraries in Kosova. The plan includes short-term projects and attempts to point out longer-term strategies. The plan suggests the formation of a time-limited body, a Kosova Library Consortium, which should include both local doers, major international donors and international organisations providing professional expertise and advise. A more elaborate and detailed action plan on Kosova libraries could be developed within this framework. The action plan includes a proposed range of 11 special programmes to be established, each covering different needs and aspects of library activities: 1. Legislation and administration programme 2. Mobile library service programme 3. Reconstruction Programme 4. Book and Reading Programme 5. Information Technology Programme 6. Professional Training and Development Programme 7. Cultural Heritage Programme 8. Children and Youth Programme 9. Open access programme 10. Initiative Support Programme 11. Twinning Programme The suggested programmes vary in nature and financial weight. An initial and very rough estimate of the funding needed for basic short-term measures amounts to around DM 14 millions. The first programme lines out the structural basis on which the rehabilitation process can be founded. The five programmes requiring the most immediate initiative and a heavy part of external funding are the Mobile Library Programme, the Reconstruction Programme, The Professional Training and Development Programme, the Books and Reading Programme, and the Information Technology Programme. There are important correlations between these programmes: The reconstruction of buildings is a longer-term task, which may take some years. Therefore mobile library services are suggested as a fairly immediate compensatory initiative. The buildings themselves have no value without books, technology or qualified library professionals. The Cultural Heritage Programme aims to provide practical solutions to urgent preservation and security needs. The Children and Youth programme and the Open Access Programme are of a more library political nature with the aim to reform and streghten certain important aspects of the societal role of libraries. The last two programmes are suggesting the establisment of specific tools to ensure and promote local involvement and participation.