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The European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations is an independent umbrella association of library, information, documentation and archive associations and institutions in Europe.

Results of the Survey on Non-Formal and Informal Learning Activities in Public Libraries in Europe

Full survey results [ PDF

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EBLIDA and the Latvian Library Association conducted an online survey between 15 May and 15 July 2016 on non-formal and informal learning activities in public libraries across Europe.

The good news for everyone is that the libraries in Europe create & provide with numerous opportunities for Non-Formal and Informal Learning.

1,413 libraries responded to the survey (partial completion) and a total of 450 libraries completed the survey, providing sufficient data to demonstrate the importance of services provided by local libraries, how these libraries serving communities, meeting their needs and add considerable value to people's life by providing guidance from trained librarians to information and make lifelong learning possible.

The calculated sample size of the survey: 425  (Sample size calculator from Creative Research Systems)

EBLIDA will use the results of this survey for advocacy purposes, to demonstrate the impact libraries are having on communities and to convince decision makers to support libraries.

EBLIDA sincerely appreciates the time given by all colleagues that responded to the survey. Thank you all.

About the Survey

All over Europe libraries informally offer non-formal and informal learning services and tend to have developed expertise in these matters, though the topic has not been studied in depth yet.

While the European Commission is developing interest in these questions related to learning outside of traditional curricula, linking national pilot survey to the European scale could be a way forward in having libraries recognised as central places on those matters, in addition to their other proven and recognised abilities of access to information and knowledge.

The survey focussed on both quantitative figures and qualitative evidence:

  • Numbers of trained individuals and numbers of non-formal & informal learning events
  • Non-formal training target groups
  • Scope of partnerships with third parties in non-formal training
  • Validation and certification of non-formal learning outcomes
  • Information about most important non-formal educational offer and training programmes delivered by public libraries
  • Impact of non-formal and informal learning activities on citizens and communities



A0 - 82% of libraries provide non-formal training / 18 % don’t.

A1 - About 1,45 Million of people have been trained in libraries in 2015

A3 - Target groups:

  • Student 66%
  • Employed 44%
  • Entrepreneurs 8%
  • Disabled people 29%
  • Unemployed 50%
  • Immigrants 20%

A4 - Number of non-formal training events provided to groups and individuals in total = 434,945 (broken down as shown below):

  • to a group = 92,681
  • to an individual = 343,866


A5- Number of non-formal training events provided by library staff and external partners = 169,482 (broken down as shown below):

  • initiated and carried out by library staff: 149,874
  • initiated by library staff but carried out by the third party: 14,025
  • by third party: 6,491

A6 – Main library partners for training (7 examples above 20%, others in the survey):

  • Schools (59%)
  • Volunteers (36%)
  • Kindergarten (34%)
  • Other Cultural Institutions (32%)
  • Other libraries (29%)
  • Other educational establishments (27%)
  • NGO (24%)

A7 – Certificate or diploma = 31% of libraries issue a certificate or diploma / 69% don’t

A10 – Separate staff or not for Non-formal trainings
13% have separate staff to provide non-formal tranings
87% don’t have separate staff as training patrons is part of the work of the library staff.

A11 – Budget/Funding
Main funding comes from Municipal (local).

A12 – Categories of educational offers (a few examples above 50%)

  • Digital literacy (84%)
  • Communication (64%)
  • Education (64%)
  • Culture and entertainment (54%)
  • Reading Promotion (67%)


B0 – 83% of libraries provide information trainings / 17% don’t

B1 - Number of assisted/consulted library visitors in 2015: 6,751,641

B3 – Target groups

  • Student 73%
  • Employed 60%
  • Entrepreneurs 15%
  • Disabled people 37%
  • Unemployed 62%
  • Immigrants 23%

B4 - Number of informal learning events (total) in 2015: 6,462,821 broken down as shown below:

  • to a group of people: 222,624
  • to an individual: 4,634,669

B5 – categories of trainings:

  • Digital Literacy 86%
  • Communication 62%
  • Employment 50%
  • E-services 59%
  • Education 71%
  • Culture and Entertainment 56%
  • Reading Promotion 62%

B7 – Number of individuals attending informal trainings in 2015, between 2,317,607 and 3,110,591.

To learn more, please download the full survey results [PDF]

This  project was developed by EBLIDA and the Latvian Library Association,  supported by a Grant from the Public Libraries 2020 Programme of the Reading and Writing Foundation.

 A project developed by EBLIDA and LBB. Supported by a Grant from the Public Libraries 2020 Programme of the Reading and Writing Foundation



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