Reviving municipal libraries in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

challenge

In the last years former Soviet libraries became less popular in Bishkek: they no longer met the requirements of inhabitants. As part of the new local City Development Strategy a new impulse has to be given to the ‘civic role’ of libraries for the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Review
The popularity of the municipal libraries decreased, because the quality of spaces, concepts and books no longer met the requirements of inhabitants. The venues are unattractive and often not so visible from the outside. To create a comfortable city, the new local City Development Strategy aims at creating a city for people and citizen engagement as a driving force of development. As part of this strategy, all libraries and the role they play in a neighbourhood were reviewed.

New role
Depending on size, location and several other factors, some libraries could become a mix of functions, while others may change their function (only if redundant). This could feed extra income into the library system or provide another social service which has priority in the area (e.g. kindergartens, women co-working, café, delivery  service …). When possible the renovated libraries will also provide social services or small venues and establish a new balance between public and private spaces.

Overall management
For these reasons the overall management has to be up-graded in an integral way: technical, cultural, economic and social. Actions have to be planned from professionalization and diversification of the staff to advancement of the Municipal Libraries Office into a Municipal Agency that oversees all aspects in a comprehensive way.

At a later stage new libraries could then be opened in neighbourhoods that are still awaiting such a social reference point. Income earned by the system should be reinvested for its own purpose feeding back the libraries to keep updated.

Phases
The process consists of several phases: from preparation and workshops, to commitment on plans and funding, to implementation and realisation, to finally follow up, which is expected in 2016. 

What we need
We are looking for co-investors that also want to co-create a suitable business model that caters to local social and economic needs. Who is interested in contributing to a special programme or improvements of the offer the new libraries can give?

 

Partner in this project:
Urban Initiative

 

Proposed solutions (0)

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Written by Bernardina Borra on 26-02-16 thespontaneouscityinternational.org

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Latest comments

20 Jul
Comment from David

I am impressed by the transformation of the Reviving municipal libraries in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, it’s some change whose time has come. The world community and many African countries are not only facing immense challenges, but also great opportunities through the revolutionizing ICTs. In Africa we face unprecedented rising inequality, high youth unemployment, a dampening economic system and weakening governance institutions; and I think the Bishkek model recognizes and pushes to the fore the new roles of a library and the power of innovation.

The world community and many African countries are not only facing immense challenges, but also great opportunities through the revolutionizing ICTs. In Africa we face unprecedented rising inequality, high youth unemployment, a dampening economic system and weakening governance institutions; and I think the Bishkek model recognizes and pushes to the fore the new roles of a library and the power of innovation.

I am working with some young Infopreneur in Zimbabwe and Uganda that are essentially seeking to revamp libraries and information and knowledge transfer in Africa, where libraries have collapsed. We are putting together a unique librarianship model stilted on four criticalities for service delivery: comprehensiveness, integrated, Inclusiveness and futuristic (CIIF). I would want to interact with the Bishkek Municipality team for experience sharing: [email protected]