Compiled and edited by Irina Trushina from presentation of Tatiana Margolina, Ombudsman for Human Rights in the Perm region on All-Russian Library Congress: Annual Russian Library Association Conference, May 2012, Perm, Russia
Project: Library as the center of communication and civil legal confidence in Perm Region, Russia
- Ombudsman for Human Rights in the Perm region
- Perm Regional Human Rights Center
- Public Libraries in the Perm region
- World Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Since 1998 in Russia the network of public centers of legal information access on the base of public libraries has been developing. It was started by initiative of Ministry of Culture, Federal Agency of Government Communication and Information, Russian Fund of Legal Reforms, then joined developers of legal reference system.
Public centers of legal information in public libraries became a very successful model of interaction of different levels of authorities, libraries, education institutions, private sector and civil society.
Large libraries developed the initial idea of public centers of legal information access in public centers of access to other vital information, including ecological, business, local, consumer, information about human rights and etc.
Some public centers of legal information access in libraries have been working as on public access points to legal information, some — as consulting centers on vital information (about one half from all), some — have been going in direction of development of coordination center, making interaction between authorities, civil society and public in spheres of information access, using and development of vital information.
In 2000th in Perm region of Russia several projects of development public centers of legal information access in libraries as such coordination centers were started by Ombudsman for Human Rights in the Perm region, Perm Regional Human Rights Center, Public Libraries in the Perm region and World Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
One of the projects was devoted to: Expansion of openness and civic engagement at the local level.
During it public libraries were involved in new practices. They have been informing the public through thematic exhibitions; bulletins; going out of a library to reach a potential client; adapting texts of official documents into plain language for the population (for example, “The Mom's Choice” — a reminder to recipients of benefits for children from 1,5 to 5 years). Librarians started practices of civic participation: public hearings; organization of social control; surveys of citizens. They also combined efforts of the human rights community to provide legal assistance to the population.
The project has been improving access to justice for the poor and disadvantaged groups of citizens. In 10 municipal districts in the Perm region 10 public centers of free legal aid on the basis of libraries were organized. They provided legal assistance to more than 5,500 citizens. Moreover the mobile consulting was also organized (legal services are available now to residents of 28 districts in Perm region).
The interaction of public centers of legal and civic engagement in libraries with the Human Rights Commissioner has been established as field meetings on human rights on the basis of regional libraries (42 meetings until 2012), on-line collaboration with the Ombudsman, skype-themed conference with libraries and also direction of electronic appeals on the Internet platform (233 applications until 2012).
During the collaborative projects, libraries in Perm region started to play a new role in society: they become centers of legal and civic engagement in a Library is a mediator between citizens of Perm region and authorities, an assistant who helps in realization of the rights of citizens and who solves their problems with the help of new information technologies
The collaborative project enabled to train library staff technologies of interaction; to work practices in the development and support of civil initiatives; and to unite around library civil society activists, the legal community and municipal authorities’ employees.
The project showed what should need for the development of centers of legal and civic engagement in libraries.
First, a legislative base should been created and approved by local authorities. Than, the new municipal task fro libraries should been formulated and approved by local authorities because if new functions of librarians. Also the problem of access to high speed Internet should be solved on local level (In 2011, the Russian Government adopted the Resolution "On approval of the budgets of the granting of intergovernmental transfers for activities for connecting libraries to the Internet"). And of course, librarians should be educated technologies of interaction of the public and local government.
All of these tasks require rising of library budgets by local authorities, searching of financial support from business sector, and mainly — strong will of librarians and local authorities for interaction in aims of changing community life to better one
Last update: 23 July 2014