2. Library Policies and Best Practices
The concept of poverty must be declined in relation to the relative wealth of the European continent and therefore be interpreted as a multidimensional phenomenon. Apart from occasional library initiatives – for instance, distribution of food or libraries opening as dorms during emergencies - most European projects in libraries aim to break the poverty chain: i.e., children born into poverty bear a higher risk of poverty in adult life than those not born into poverty. They target categories of people having a marginal role in the society.
Library activities of social inclusion often concern groups of people residing in sensitive urban districts, rural areas or prisons. They may consist of literacy activities managed by librarians or third party monitors, or of inter-ethnic, inter-religious sessions integrating groups of a different nature. Projects often mentioned within the scope of SDG 1 are libraries open to homeless people, distributing food and other basic goods, and helping illiterate groups in the population. It is almost impossible to organise such activities without resorting to the third sector.
In Europe, a possible flagship policy is implemented in the Netherlands, where an ambitious project focussed on vulnerable elderly citizens (funded by the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, FEAD) supports EU countries' actions in providing food and/or basic material assistance to the most deprived. Material assistance needs to go hand in hand with social inclusion measures, such as guidance and support to lift people out of poverty and integrate most deprived people better into society. (See EBLIDA. Funding Opportunities in Libraries. The European Structural and Investment Funds 2021-2027, http://www.eblida.org/publications.html.)
In France, public libraries make available an écrivain public to their illiterate users. This “public writer” regularly attends libraries and facilitates those with literacy problems in their administrative tasks, helping them fulfil their civil rights. (SDG 1 in https://agenda2030bibfr.wixsite.com/agenda2030bib; see also Ministère de la Culture. Voyage au pays des bibliothèques Lire aujourd’hui, lire demain, par Erik Orsenna and Noël Corbin. Février 2018.f)
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