No libraries without librarians

Moliterno, Basilicata, Italy

Challenge team: Bibliomediateca G. Racioppi and Patto Locale per la Lettura del Lagonegrese

Summary: This initiative brings communities together in southern Italy – developing a card game to stimulate innovative ideas that will help libraries survive in future.

Libraries in remote and rural areas across Italy are disappearing – along with hospitals, schools, post offices and banks. In the mountainous and sparsely populated region of Basilicata in southern Italy, most public libraries exist only because a group of dedicated volunteers are keeping them alive. But these volunteers don’t have access to all the resources or training they need.

The core idea of this initiative – Ci sarà una volta or ‘Once there will be’ in English – is to develop a card game that will help to design and imagine a sustainable way for libraries to survive and flourish in this region where around 70 per cent of people have not read a book for pleasure in the past year. 

The key message of the initiative is that no libraries can exist without librarians. The card game is the result of a series of workshops, gathering the views on the future of libraries from people living in different villages across the region. 

Drawing on a series of public events that trialled the new card game, this challenge team has brought together local residents, children, students, volunteers, public administrators and an award-winning games designer, opening up discussions around possible co-management models for public libraries in rural areas. 

The challenge team reflects: “The project is allowing us to shed light on the problem, to gather people around the table and discuss possible solutions. Having people travel for kilometres in bad weather conditions to discuss libraries and librarians is a big success for us.”

“We are determined to build on the momentum and find concrete solutions while continuing to develop our card game to help define these,” they said. “We are confident that other rural areas of Europe will be able to benefit from our process and prototype.”

Local solutions to change Europe 

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