Early this month a historic meeting was held in Suva Fiji that brought together practitioners and representatives from NGOs and Government across the Pacific to develop a plan to strengthen the impact of Pacific libraries to better support the needs of communities through collaboration, networking and advocacy.
For the first time librarians from 15 Pacific countries including Australia and New Zealand met to discuss how they could use the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework for advocating for the role of libraries in supporting countries to reach their targets.
Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Education Alison Burchell officiating at the summit commended the practitioners for their work in libraries and the realization they have towards the achievement of the UN SDGs.
Burchell said as librarians, they play an important role towards the improvement of literacy rates in the region.
She said their roles in libraries would also help in numeracy, technological literacy and physical literacy, most important things they could give to the children of the Pacific.
She thanked them for visiting a few school libraries in Suva, which gave them an insight of the range of libraries that are there in Fiji.
Burchell said that since the introduction of the search engine Google, traditional research which often maximize the use of libraries have changed.
She believes that libraries must also change with technology.
She also shared Fiji’s library story where the budget allocation for libraries from the National Budget has increased by 150 per cent for the last six years.
There are 450 school libraries in Fiji and 300 library corners set up in early childhood education centres.
There are 36 community libraries and work is underway to automate the four public libraries, three of which are disability friendly.
She challenged the library practitioners to open the world of libraries and the knowledge they hold and make it not only accessible to children but for their parents too.