Two innovative library services on opposite sides of the globe are demonstrating the value of public libraries to farmers. The new services reach remote rural communities in southern in Chile and central Serbia. They are using information and communication technology (ICT) – including the Internet, mobile phones, social networking and radio – to provide valuable agricultural information, to create online product markets to improve farmers’ sales, to share information and to link farmers to the wider world.
The new services were funded through EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries). EIFL’s Public Library Innovation Programme (PLIP) supports public libraries to use ICT in innovative ways to serve community needs. The two new services began in May 2010, and a year later, conducted impact assessment. The new services have achieved their goals, with farmers reporting that they found valuable new information, benefited from new connections to sources of government and other support and increased product sales. EIFL-PLIP is now encouraging replication of these services in public libraries in other parts of the world.