RL:EU Conference Speakers

The RL:EU Conference: Digital Upskilling for Libraries in Europe will present resources, frameworks, and projects on digital upskilling for libraries in Europe. Gathering library professionals from across Europe, the conference will place a focus on not only learning more about the RL:EU project, networking with practitioners, exploring opportunities with EU funding programmes — but also on discovering various EU-funded projects on digital literacies which have taken place in libraries.

The ‘Living Library‘ session will take place both in person and online, and will be an opportunity for the conference participants to hear from speakers presenting their EU-funded project.

Discover the speakers and their projects below!

Spaska Tarandova (Executive Director, Global Libraries – Bulgaria Foundation, Bulgaria)

Spaska has been working in the library field for more than 30 years, most of them at Sofia City Library, including as a Deputy Director (2008 – 2013). Since 2015, she has been serving as an Executive Director of the Global Libraries – Bulgaria Foundation (GLBF) that works with network of 960 public libraries in Bulgaria to provide free access to computers, internet and information for all.

In 2011 Spaska joined in the “Librarians of Tomorrow: Communication and Leadership” program at the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2012-2015 she was the Bulgarian participant in the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI), sponsored by Gates Foundation. Spaska is a member of: Bulgarian Library and Information Association, Board Member, Member of PLS Standing Committee, IFLA.

At the RL:EU Conference, Spaska will present the BIBLIO (Boosting digital skills and competencies for librarians in Europe) project, which ran from 2019 to 2023. The BIBLIO project developed an e-learning platform and created a digital ecosystem for skills assessment, learning offers (transversal competencies and digital skills), validation, and recognition to support the librarianship in gaining new skills and developing new innovative services.

Jef De Backker (Blenders, Belgium)

Jef De Backker is senior projectlead digital inclusion at Blenders. He and his team work to bridge the digital divide by organising workshops and digital support sessions for anyone who experience difficulties in navigating the digital thresholds in their everyday life. He does this with 15 co-workers and about 240 volunteers in more than 40 locations in public meeting places such as libraries and communal meeting places in the Flanders region of Belgium.

At the RL:EU Conference, Jef will present the Connect://able project. Connect://able is an Erasmus+ funded project that ran from November 2020 until June 2023. In this project the public libraries of Bergen (Norway) and Aarhus (Denmark), the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences and social innovator Blenders (Belgium) worked together to fight social exclusion and improve digital skills. Jef will share the experiences and lessons learned on how to build strong informal learning communities and connecting with hard to reach groups.

Connect://able focused on three main elements:

  • Bridging the gap that disadvantaged people can experience in fully participating in existing activities of libraries and other organisations by creating safe learning spaces for digital skills.
  • Examining and stimulating the connector role of libraries in creating these safe learning spaces.
  • Sharing international experiences and learning good practices from each other.

Giorgia Plachesi (Biblioteca Comunale Manfrediana, Italy)

Giorgia Plachesi is a librarian at the Manfrediana Municipal Library in Faenza. Giorgia graduated with degrees in librarianship and sociology of culture. She is involved in reading education and promotion, and is in charge of Children and Young Adults sections.

From 2020 to 2022 Manfrediana Library was the lead partner in Erasmus + project TECH.LIBRARY and Giorgia was responsible for the project coordination. The TECH.LIBRARY project had several objectives, and these mainly focused on supporting a network of libraries with the improvement of key competencies and digital skills for the integration of ICT services for visually impaired users.

Furthermore, the aim was also promoting new methods for development, learning and building capability which enhance creativity and innovation in libraries staff, reaching and attracting visually impaired users to dedicated libraries services.

Ed Klute (Utrecht, Netherlands)

Ed Klute is the retired director of Mira Media in Utrecht. During his career of 30 years he developed many European network projects within several European programs. Between 2010 – 2020, he closely cooperated with libraries introducing digital citizenship as an important objective in their programming.

Two Erasmus+ projects DGGMLF and COLIBLITE especially targeted children and parents from migrant-, lower educated- and lower income families. Libraries from the Netherlands, UK, Italy and Romania took part in the projects together with local schools and dedicated NGO’s.

At the RL:EU Conference Ed will present COLIBLITE which was based on the outcomes of the DGGMLF project. COLIBLITE focused on building sustainable partnerships between stakeholders at the local level, consisting of a school, a library, a social organization or community center and, preferably, a parents’ group; making each participating partner ”digitally literate” in terms of policies, skills and competences of the staff; co-creation of existing learning materials and methodologies. Ed will concentrate on ‘the activity roadmap’ used to execute the project and the encountered challenges to implement the outcomes in long-term policies and programs of the participating partners.

Helena Patrício (Director of Special Collections Services, National Library of Portugal)

Helena Patrício is Director of Special Collections Services at the National Library of Portugal (NLP) since 2012, in charge of the National Digital Library and the NLP management in national and European projects. She was Director of Information Systems at the NLP (2007-2012). She graduated in Law (1996), has a post-graduation in Library and Information Science (1998) and a master in Information Studies and Digital Libraries (2004) with the thesis “Comparative analysis of the relational model and the RDF applied to the conceptual modelling of legislative information”. She is a PhD student, researching in the field of semantic web and linked open data.

At the conference, Helena will present EODOPEN. The EODOPEN project is a Creative Europe project that focuses on bringing European 20th and 21st century digitally-hidden stacks to the public forefront by directly engaging with communities in the selection, digitisation and dissemination processes while at the same time reinforcing the capacity of library staff with regards to dealing adequately with rights clearance questions. In addition, the project will broaden the scope to alternative delivery formats in order to reach an even larger audience, especially adequate formats for users of mobile devices as well as blind or visually impaired users.

Simona Šinko (Head of the Learning Centre, Ljubljana City Library)

Simona Šinko, PhD, is the Head of the Learning Centre at Ljubljana City Library. Her professional interests revolve around various aspects of adult education, ranging from individual learning activities to adult education policies. She places special emphasis on the role of (public) libraries in lifelong learning and the continuous professional development of library staff. Simona serves as the coordinator of Erasmus + activities at Ljubljana City Library.

At the RL:EU Conference, Simona will share their experience with the application and implementation of Erasmus+ accreditation in adult education, specifically Key Action 1: Learning Mobility of Individuals in Adult Education (KA ADU 121). Ljubljana City Library became the first Slovene public library to obtain accreditation for the period 2022–2027.

She will discuss staff mobility experiences from 2023 at Oodi, Helsinki City Library, Finland, Deichman, Oslo City Library in Norway and Jonava Public Library in Lithuania. Simona will also outline the upcoming activities, including user mobility, staff participation in courses, and inviting an expert from abroad.

The main objective of the presentation is to inspire and support other public libraries in applying for the Erasmus+ KA ADU 121 program.

Chloé Pété (Project Officer & Communications, Media & Learning Association)

Chloé Pété leads the Media Literacy/Media Education activities, events and projects along with supporting the day-to-day management of the Media & Learning Association. She is responsible for the delivery of several Erasmus+ projects and other MIL projects. She supports project ideation, incubation, coordination and dissemination. Graduated with a Master in Cultural Studies, a Master in Western Literature, and a Degree in Art History, she has worked mainly in the coordination and mediation of cultural projects, such as several contemporary art festivals and exhibitions in Belgium and France. Due to her studies and professional background, she also has some experience in research and project development.

At the RL:EU Conference, Chloé will present SMILES, a media literacy project supported under ERASMUS+ that developed innovative learning methods to help young people deal with disinformation in school and library activities. The SMILES team consists of partners from the Netherlands, Spain and Belgium who work in libraries, media literacy organisations and research institutes.

The SMILES team has prepared a series of activities, materials and tools about disinformation (package of 5 modules) that can be used right away in classrooms or library activities, and which are available for download for free from our website. This allows young people aged 12 to 18 to develop their knowledge and skills in recognising and combating fake news and disinformation.

Agnieszka Koszowska (Project Coordinator and Editor, Information Society Development Foundation Poland)

Agnieszka Koszowska is a project coordinator, trainer, web editor and webinar expert at the Information Society Development Foundation (Poland). She implements and supports projects and campaigns dedicated to non-formal education, including STEAM initiatives and development of digital competences. Her background is library and information science. She works with libraries and the NGO sector. At the RL:EU Conference, Agnieszka will present the Digital Travellers in Europe project.

Digital Travellers in Europe is an Erasmus+ funded digital literacy project implemented in 2019-2021 by a partnership consisting of: Bibliothèques Sans Frontières – France, Information Society Development Foundation (Poland), Bibliothèques Sans Frontières Belgique, Public Libraries 2030, Suomen Kirjastoseura (Finland) and Koninklijke Bibliotheek (the Netherlands). The project’s main goal was to support individuals lacking digital skills to enhance their participation in society.

The partners worked with public libraries to leverage their unique capacity as trusted local hubs with expertise in tackling digital exclusion. As part of the project, educational resources developed in the partner countries have been collected, mapped to the EU Digital Competence Framework for Citizens and made available via an online platform (www.digitaltravellers.org). 80 librarians from 4 countries were trained to conduct educational activities aimed at diverse groups, including the elderly, migrants, and people from underprivileged background. The project also developed a concise Key Policy Recommendations for digital competence development at various levels.

Altheo Valentini (Senior EU projects manager and General Manager at European Grants International Academy Srls)

Altheo is the General Manager at the European Grants International Academy (Srls). He has worked for more than 10 years as consultant in European projects and he has a solid expertise in the preparation, implementation and coordination of educational projects within the framework of different financing instruments of the European Commission, with a particular focus on social and digital innovation. He is member of national associations and networks in the field of innovation (General States of Innovation) and digital skills (Repubblica Digitale) and he serves as the Chair of the board in some international organisations, including: All Digital for the promotion of digital skills and the Europeana Education Community.

At the RL:EU Conference, Altheo will present the Social Hackademy Methodology. The Social Hackademy Methodology presents the conceptual and operational elements that characterized the consolidation of a good practice in the field of digital skills for social innovation into a permanent laboratory of grassroots digital co-creation initiatives. Learn how to set up an hackademy at the local level and learn more about the next edition of the Social Hackathon Umbria.

Vanya Grozdanova (Projects Expert, Global Libraries – Bulgaria Foundation)

Vanya Grozdanova is a cultural manager with over 10 years of experience – including project management, fundraising, audience development, curatorial work and social media communication. Some of her experience could be chased back to a co-founder of the eXAF project space in 2008, a projects expert at the State Cultural Institute of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in 2014 and 2015), a co-curator of Sofia Underground Performance Art Festival (between 2015 and 2018), a project manager at the Plovdiv 2019 Foundation – implementing the programme of the European Capital of Culture 2019 initiative (from 2015 to 2020). She was also a coordinator of the CONTEXT AiR residency programme of the Plovdiv Municipality (in 2022 and 2023) and logistics manager at One Dance Festival since 2021. In 2022 she started the lo3eto project – an exhibition space and artistic residency at a rural area. Since 2023 Vanya has been a projects expert at Global Libraries – Bulgaria Foundation.

At the RL:EU Conference, Vanya will present the Advancing Digital Empowerment of Libraries in Europe (ADELE) project, an Erasmus+ project which ran from 2022 to 2024. The ADELE project aimed to develop a free customisable web-based tool to help adult education organisations reflect on how they use and where they can further integrate digital technologies to improve their services. The tool developed builds on the SELFIE tool for schools developed by the European Commission with the aim of supporting adult education organisations offering non-formal education.

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