Public library service for farmers expands to two new regions of Serbia
Successful EIFL-initiated project awarded new grants from local partners

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Public Library Radislav Nikčević Director Vesna Crnković works with farmers in a village library near Jagodina. Photo credit: Matt Lutton.

Public Library Radislav Nikčević in Jagodina (Serbia) has received grant support to extend its successful AgroLib-Ja service for farmers, which was initiated with support from EIFL, to two more regions of Serbia. 

The library has also received funding to redesign its popular web-portal and online marketplace for farmers.

The new support comes from two sources: the Opportunity Bank Serbia, a community bank offering services to farmers and small businesses in rural areas, and the Serbian Ministry of Culture and Information.

Since 2010, the successful AgroLib-Ja service has provided farming communities in Central Serbia with free access to the internet; computer and e-literacy training; lectures for farmers, and up to date books and journals on agriculture.

The library’s AgroLib web-portal for farmers offers agricultural information and links to sources of financial and other support for farmers. The AgroLib farmers’ market enables farmers to advertise, attract new customers and sell their produce online.

Bank / library partnership to improve lives

Opportunity Bank Serbia has donated funding and computer equipment to initiate AgroLib-Ja in libraries in Aleksinac Municipality in southeastern Serbia, and Vranje Municipality in southern Serbia.

“Partnering with the Opportunity Bank is taking the AgroLib service to a new level. The service is expanding beyond Jagodina Municipality to the rest of the country,” said library director, Vesna Crnković.

“Replication of the service, with the bank’s support, shows the value of the service. The role of public libraries in meeting farmers’ skills and information needs is being recognized,” she added. 

“In step with the support that we provide to rural areas and remote local communities that have great economic potential, but which were unjustly neglected by the shift in focus to rural areas, and in order to help improve the lives of people in rural areas, the Opportunity Bank decided to support the AgroLib service, which develops agricultural libraries,” said Mirjana Panin, the bank’s Director of Social Performance Management, Marketing and Communications.

In Vranje, the bank’s support has provided the rural library of Vrtogoš with a computer and funding for internet access and agricultural journals. The Aleksinac library received two computers and funding to operate their mobile library. The mobile library will take computers journals and books to villages around Aleksinac.

The bank’s support also expands Public Library Radislav Nikčević’s AgroLib-Ja service in Jagodina Municipality in central Serbia by providing another village library – in Glogovac – with a computer.

Opportunity Bank will organize financial and computer literacy workshops in the libraries for farmers and for bank clients.

Government support to renew popular web-portal

The Ministry of Culture and Information funding has enabled the library to launch a new website for the service, and to redesign the AgroLib web-portal and online farmer’s market.

The new web-portal provides free advertising space to rural craft makers and small businesses working in rural tourism, in addition to the online farmers' market.

To ensure the web-portal reaches an international audience, it is bilingual, in Serbian and English.

READ MORE ABOUT THIS SUCCESSFUL SERVICE

The AgroLib-Ja service for farmers was one of the first public library services initiated with support from the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) in 2010.

Prestigious international grants and awards over the past five years have contributed to sustainability and expansion of the service.

Read more about AgroLib-Ja here.

Read about more innovative public library services improving farmers’ lives.