Library Electronic Access Project
Library Electronic Access Project
Since 2001, the U.S. Embassy has provided grants to Ukrainian public libraries to open 147 free public Internet centers as part of the Library Electronic Access Project (LEAP). The goal of this project is to provide public libraries with free public access to the Internet and to support the free and open exchange of information that is essential for Ukraine's integration with the world community. The U.S. government has devoted over $1,500,000 to improving Ukrainian citizens' access to information by opening free Internet centers in public libraries.
As part of this project, libraries have received grants up to $24,000 for computer equipment, software, Internet access, and training. The project also aims to train librarians in the latest technology for providing readers with electronic resources. The U.S. Embassy's Information Resource Center, which has designed and implemented LEAP, conducts trainings for library directors and project coordinators, provides consultations, and uses the Internet Centers in all regions of Ukraine for Embassy outreach on current issues.
As a result of this project, 147 Internet centers have opened in public libraries throughout Ukraine. Each center offers readers at least five work stations with Internet access, as well as training on using computers and searching for information on the Internet.
The opening of Internet centers has not only provided thousands of Ukrainians with access to electronic information, but has also served as an impetus for transforming public libraries. Thanks to the opening of Internet centers, many libraries have been able to attract additional support from local government and businesses to renovate their libraries and purchase additional equipment.
The opening of Internet centers has sparked a number of innovative ideas in Ukrainian public libraries. For example, the Kherson Oblast' Library and Gasprinsky Crimean Tatar Library have organized "Weekend Internet" programs to provide computer training to rural youth. Oblast' Children's Libraries in Sevastopol and Kherson have conducted on-line chats with children's writers and between each other. The Rivne Oblast' Library coordinates a program in three libraries in the oblast' to provide special computer training to the handicapped. For the first time in Ukraine, public access Internet workstations were installed in rural libraries in Syn'kiv and Tovste, Zalischyky Region Ternopil' Oblast' and Vyhoda village, Dolyna Region Ivano-Frankivs'k oblast'. In Kamyanets-Podilsk, the City Library has worked with the city government to develop an e-government program that provides citizens with information on local regulations and the local government budget.
These Internet centers have indeed provided a "leap" forward for Ukrainian public libraries. Thanks to the financial and technical support of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine and the hard work of Ukrainian librarians, the quality of library services has markedly improved and Ukrainian citizens' access to information has significantly expanded.
In addition to LEAP, the U.S. Government devotes funding to other programs to promote access to the Internet in Ukraine, including the Window on America Program, coordinated by the Information Resource Center of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.