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International Innovators

Four libraries earned this year’s American Library Association (ALA) Presidential Citation for Innovative International Library Projects. Their projects included smartphone training for seniors, multicultural events, a country-wide reading festival, and programming to raise awareness of Indigenous populations and their perspectives and needs.

The Presidential Citations began as an initiative of former ALA President Loriene Roy (2007–2008). Presented by the International Relations Round Table, the awards recognize exemplary services and projects that draw attention to the potential for library services to create positive change, demonstrate sustainability, and provide a model for others.

The winners are: Fran Galovic´ Public Libraryin Koprivnica, Croatia; Guangzhou Library in Guangzhou, China; National Central Library in Taipei City, Taiwan; and Vancouver Island Regional Library in Nanaimo, British Columbia.

Interested in nominating a project for 2021? The deadline is January 1. More information can be found at

The Taiwan Reading Festival
National Central Library in Taipei City, Taiwan

The Taiwan Reading Festival, started in 2013 by the National Central Library, is the country’s largest reading festival. Fifty-two libraries and more than 100 organizations participate, holding reading-related activities across the country. The designing and planning of these events also offer library staffers added opportunities for professional growth and development.

National Central Library is being recognized for:
■ initiating a service that has become a national reading brand in Taiwan and has enhanced the nation’s reading appreciation
■ incorporating STEAM, early literacy initiatives, and the country’s new curriculum for elementary and secondary schools into festival events to help develop lifelong learners
■ encouraging interaction and partnerships between libraries, schools, publishers, book clubs, foundations, bookstores, and bloggers and offering ways to help people experience reading
■ attracting government funding to support reading festivals in Taiwan

Journey around the World in Guangzhou Library
Guangzhou Library in Guangzhou, China

For the past three years, the Journey around the World in Guangzhou Library project has connected Guangzhou residents with different cultures. To date, the library has collaborated with 12 countries on 13 events for 50-plus activities, ranging from programs on Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel and Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci to Ecuadorian graffiti art and the history of the Silk Road. The project has helped broaden understanding between Guangzhou and its international visitors and nourish cultural openness

Guangzhou Library is being recognized for:
■ coordinating with a range of outside institutions, including the Guangzhou Foreign Affairs Office, foreign consulates in Guangzhou, cultural and educational institutions, and the foreign affairs departments, libraries, media, and other cultural advocacy partners of Guangzhou’s sister cities
■ attracting more than 100,000 visitors to its 13 events
■ establishing a model of sustainability and leadership for other libraries in the Pearl River Delta Metropolitan Region of China and beyond

Indigenous Voices Project
Vancouver Island Regional Library in Nanaimo, British Columbia

Since its launch in 2018, Vancouver Island Regional Library’s Indigenous Voices Project has partnered with First Nations elders across the library’s service area to create programming that celebrates and shares the diversity and perspectives of Vancouver Island and increases community understanding and closeness. The programs have included sessions on reconciliation and residential schools, medicine walks to discover healing uses of local plants, drum-making classes, and smudging ceremonies.

Vancouver Island Regional Library is being recognized for:
■ doing the community-building work of understanding Vancouver Island’s people, geography, and traditions to develop a program that creates greater understanding and facilitates closer community ties
■ reaching out to dozens of First Nations elders to form relationships that allow for successful programming that is educational, entertaining, and inspiring
■ using elder-driven programs to share the rich diversity, voices, and perspectives of Vancouver Island
■ introducing a sustainable program model that includes a Vancouver Island Regional Library Indigenous

“Smartphone? Yes, Please!” Face-to-Face Training for Seniors
Fran Galović Public Library in Koprivnica, Croatia

Since 2018, Fran Galović Public Library has offered weekly smartphone training for senior citizens, taught by high school students. The informal, one-on-one sessions have helped seniors learn to communicate with family and friends, many of whom have emigrated out of the country.

Fran Galović Public Library is being recognized for:
■ successfully helping Koprivnica’s senior population fight loneliness and depression resulting from changing demographics and emigration
■ creating positive change in the lives of seniors, particularly regarding digital inclusion, social inclusion, and social cohesion through intergenerational collaboration
■ introducing a sustainable, free service staffed by volunteers that can be adopted by other libraries

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