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EPALE - Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe


Ursula Liebmann, a Community Story from Austria

by EPALE Moderator
Language: EN
Document available also in: DE

Ursula Liebmann

I am the general manager of Meeting-Point Library, the office for public libraries, which is tasked with offering a service and support for public librarians and their work within 260 public libraries in the federal province of Lower Austria. Furthermore, it is responsible for the development of librarianship as well as for generating visions and strategies to implement the paradigm shift that is taking place. I earned a Master of Arts degree in Social Work which defines the strategies I use in my librarian work towards social inclusion. Learning or “Bildung” means participation within society, so libraries should collaborate or work closely together within the field of adult learning.

Being a partner of the Erasmus+ project, “LIB(e)RO” (2016-18) I have got to know EPALE through the project coordinator. I joined her at the EPALE conference 2019. We started cooperating with the Austrian EPALE partners through the career guidance organisation of Lower Austria, which is part of the organisation I managed, and I have been representing Austria at ACADEMIA since December 2019. I went to several conferences concerning librarianship and adult education in different European countries, initiated an Erasmus+ mobility project (K1) in 2020 and I organised an Erasmus+ Breakfast during the #ERASMUSDAYS 2019. EPALE is a highly professional organisation that supports different kinds of possibilities of adult learning and especially people, who are engaged within this field. Everyone I am in contact with who works at EPALE is helpful and supportive!

Opening of the online library

The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown had a major impact on public libraries. Overnight, the libraries had to close  and were no longer "meeting places", because according to the federal government, meeting up in groups had to be kept to a minimum. The province of Lower Austria reacted quickly and opened the online library free of charge for all Lower Austrians. This decision was taken quickly and unbureaucratically in order to provide an attractive reading offer and more during this time of restrictions. The registration was handled by the service centre Treffpunkt Bibliothek.
The team was challenged - and positively surprised - by the rush of interested people. The online library contains e-books, e-audios, e-videos, e-learning language courses and the online encyclopaedia Brockhaus.

total of around 6,700 Lower Austrians registered within 5 weeks to take advantage of the offer. In order to be able to offer enough reading material and audio books, the media content was increased and the range of language courses was expanded. In addition, the new readers were and continue to be supported by the service centre Treffpunkt Bibliothek (Meeting-point Library) during the start-up phase. Registration for the online library run by Treffpunkt Bibliothek and the Lower Austrian Regional Library is normally done directly via the public libraries. During the Covid-19 crisis this was changed. Registration was possible by e-mail and free of charge.

The newly registered readers were informed about the further procedure on how to continue to use the online library All you need to do is visit a public library, register as a member and your account will be activated for use. In addition, an online survey was conducted to further develop the offer and to be able to look to the future according to the dynamic requirements for

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