UCA and GIZ Bring Mobile Digital Library to Naryn and Ak-Talaa Districts in the Kyrgyz Republic
Naryn, Kyrgyz Republic – On 12 December 2013, the eBilim mobile digital library was inaugurated at the University of Central Asia (UCA) School for Professional and Continuing Education in Naryn. The mobile library is housed in a new minibus which was refurbished to transport and facilitate the use of eBilim digital and electronic resources.
eBilim is a one-year pilot project designed to bring information and resources to communities in remote villages in Naryn Oblast. The project is being implemented through a partnership between UCA’s Mountain Societies Research Institute and the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme, with financial support from the German Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
"Bilim" means knowledge in the Kyrgyz language. "e" indicates electronic media. "eBilim" brings together two important components of the project: locally accessible knowledge and current technology and media. The eBilim vehicle is equipped with laptops and a database of over 2,000 text, audio and video resources. It will also serve as a dynamic platform, assessing and responding to the information needs of remote mountain communities.
“Despite a lack of leisure activities in our communities, libraries are not utilised as much as they could be. We need services and materials which reflect the needs and interests of the next generation of library users. We are pleased that Naryn was selected to pilot eBilim, cleverly using technology to address local needs,” said Dinara Junusova, Head of Social Monitoring and Development, Naryn Province Administration.
The eBilim vehicle will travel on a regular schedule to 10 villages in Naryn and Ak-Talaa districts for one full day each month. The residents of Tash-Bashat, Dobolu, Jan Bulak, Kulanak, Jylan-Aryk, Ak-Tal, Jany-Talap, Ak-Kiya, Kara-Oi, and Konorchok villages will be the first beneficiaries of the project.
|The eBilim minibus will regularly circulate in Naryn Oblast,
bringing resources to and gathering information on these communities.
“In recent years, large amounts of digital information have been produced in Central Asia by governments, civil society, universities and the media. It is a challenge to make this information available in remote areas. eBilim can help overcome this centre-periphery information gap by connecting people to the world of digital knowledge,” said Anar Orozobaeva of GIZ.
eBilim will be implemented as a feasibility study, testing innovative information distribution and collection methods in remote mountain communities. Its database will allow users to print and download information to USBs, DVDs, cell phones and other devices. The database includes information in a range of subjects, including agriculture, health, education, entertainment, law, literature, learning resources for teachers and news. As needs and interests are identified, the database will be expanded.
eBilim will also house a set of children’s books and information resources which can be directly used by villagers. In summer months, there will be visits to Jailoo summer pastures, and open-air movie screenings.
“Ensuring access to digital information in areas with limited access to the Internet was challenging. eBilim is unique in that it operates from an offline database with the capacity to grow as Internet connectivity improves,” said Aline Rosset, eBilim project manager, “Our success will heavily depend on partner and community response. This pilot will help us understand information needs and adapt our scope to ensure this travelling library makes a difference to people living in remote areas,”
Youth using digital tools on eBilim to access information.
Community partners include the provincial library and district and local libraries in Naryn, schools and local self-government bodies. Additional partners include www.bizdin.kg; Radio Azattyk; the Food and Agriculture Organisation; non-governmental organisations NGOs Bir Duino, AgroLead, Aigine, CAMP Alatoo and Novaya Literatura Kyrgyzstana; and Tenir Too and Ayil Demi newspapers.