Strengthening Partner Libraries Role as Community Hubs in the Face of 21st Century Challenges – A Project For Belarus

Libraries are more than places to get books; they play an important role in community-building, providing services to a wide range of diverse communities, and engaging communities in discussion to address common challenges. That was the takeaway lesson for five Belorussian library professionals who participated on a Meridian administered International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) in January.

The participants were interested in how to strengthen libraries in their communities through engaging in partnerships and transforming them into community hubs. The group started in Washington D.C. before traveling to Philadelphia, PA; New York City, NY; Colorado Springs, CO; Denver, CO; and concluding their project in Louisville, KY. In each city, participants had opportunities to learn about the future of libraries, innovative efforts for sharing digital media, and State-level support services. They also discussed how to make libraries more accessible for the visually impaired, youth, rural communities, homeless patrons, and other underserved groups.

While in Washington, DC, the participants visited the Library of Congress, where they learned about the Library of Congress’ role in working on European collections and supporting learning innovation. Once in Philadelphia, they toured the National Constitution Center to learn about historical preservation. Next, in Colorado Springs, the participants’ meetings focused on how libraries can be hubs for entrepreneurs and youth engagement. This included a meaningful visit to a network of libraries that were part of the Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) including the 21C Library. In Denver, the participants learned about library support services. In Louisville they went to the Free Public Library network, where multilingual storytimes, cultural showcases, foreign films, and literary “salons” are hosted. Also in Louisville, the American Printing House for the Blind showed how they create accessible learning workspaces.


Relevant Links

Southern Indiana welcomes visitors from Belarus

Sponsors and Partnerships

U.S. Department of State
International Visitor Leadership Program, U.S. Department of State
Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia
Colorado Springs World Affairs Council
World Affairs Council of Kentucky & Southern Indiana


Project summary

Strengthening Partner Libraries Role as Community Hubs in the Face of 21st Century Challenges – A Project For Belarus
Number of Visitors: 5
Regions: Europe and Eurasia
Countries: Belarus
Impact Areas: Civic Engagement, Education
Program Areas: Global Leadership