The work of the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme demonstrates how, by using digital technology and with minimal additional funding, public libraries can be effective and sustainable rural development partners. They are helping to improve farmers’ lives and livelihoods by connecting them to information, providing free ICT access and training, and bridging the urban-rural divide, linking distant farming communities to vital sources of city-based information, expertise and support.
For example, in Chile, a public library agricultural information service is helping farmers in the Andes mountains keep up to date with advances in farming methods. In Uganda, a public library is helping farmers to combat plant pests and diseases by using mobile phones to connect them to city-based scientists. In central Serbia, a public library has helped revitalize a declining rural economy by teaching farmers ICT skills, demonstrating to farmers the value of online information and creating an online agricultural produce market. In Latvia, farmers now have access to regular webinars about government support and subsidies in their local libraries.