Libraries Bridging Digital Divide for Ukrainian Farmers
More than two years after Bibliomist – Global Libraries Ukraine started equipping village libraries with computers, many patrons are using these resources to develop their businesses, reach new customers, and earn more income. Even farmers, who had been largely disconnected from modern technology, have discovered the advantages of the Internet for their businesses.
After seeing a mechanical potato planter operate on neighboring fields, Viktor decided to get one of his own. He turned to his local Lubyanka village library, where the librarian helped him to identify retailers, select a brand, and place an order for himself and three additional units for his colleagues. Viktor claims that the planter has made field work much easier; he has even started earning additional income by offering his services to other farmers. Another farmer purchased a two-wheel tractor using the help of his local librarian—an investment he hopes will have a similar benefit to his business.
For others, the benefit of a librarian’s assistance is even more measurable. Oleksiy, a young farmer from Nerushay Village in Odesa Oblast, breeds rabbits and chickens. Recently, he purchased a pellet mill using the Internet at his local library. The equipment produces feed using less time and fewer resources. “Now my rabbits grow to four kilos in three months—a month earlier,” he explained. “I can sell them earlier and make more money!” Inspired by this positive experience, Oleksiy continues to visit the library to receive updates on agricultural trends using online and printed media. Similarly, a farmer in Kirovograd Oblast frequents his library to find information about crop prices online, and uses this information to sell his corn at the higher price offered by an agricultural exchange website—compared to the lower prices offered by local traders.
For a few entrepreneurial patrons, the library resources have provided them with the information to start new businesses. Kateryna in Kherson region decided to start her own agricultural supplier business selling seeds, fertilizers, greenhouse film, and other inventory for farmers and gardeners. The local librarian helped her search for vendors and create informative materials like leaflets, price lists and product descriptions. Once her shop is open, Kateryna plans to order her supplies using the library’s Internet connection.
Libraries are bridging the digital divide in Ukraine—connecting agricultural workers in rural communities through the Internet to a world of new opportunities for knowledge sharing, networking, purchasing, and income generation. Librarians ensure that these patrons are able to use these tools and truly benefit from the computers and Internet access in their communities.
Interested in learning more about the role of libraries powering development? Join Beyond Access at the Local Alternatives for Global Development: Rediscovering Libraries conference on October 3, 2012 in Washington, DC.