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Milbank Library partners with Kosovar National Library

Mehmet Gerguri, Director of the Pristina National and University Library recently visited the Milbank Memorial Library as part of a partnership with several libraries, corporations and the United States State Department to establish seven Internet information centers in Kosovo.

Mehmet Gerguri, Director of the Pristina National and University Library recently visited the Milbank Memorial Library as part of a partnership with several libraries, corporations and the United States State Department to establish seven Internet information centers in Kosovo.

The goal of this effort is to establish the Pristina Library as the "Information Center" in Kosovo where Kosovars can learn about their history, "surf the net" and develop research skills to help rebuild their society, according to a spokesperson from the U.S. State Department.

The "Kosovo Information Assistance Initiative" will be headquartered at Gerguri's library, which will include a "virtual" online library, $1million in book donations, a special children's learning center, a cyber-café, and several other community information projects.

The first phase of this project is to focus on the construction of the centers, hiring and training of local staff, and establishment of local and area-wide networks to provide Internet connections.

As the project progresses, each regional center will be able to develop its own programs that meet specific needs of the community. The six other centrally located, regional centers that are open to the public will be offshoots of the headquarters that Gerguri is leading. They will serve Kosovo's 2.2 million population and will be located in the cities of Ferizaj, Gjakova, Prizren, Peje, Gililan, and Mirrovica.

Mr. Gerguri was invited here by the U.S. State Department for two weeks to familiarize himself with library technology and libraries in general-specifically university libraries in Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C., said John Zins, Gerguri's U.S. State Department Escort Officer.

Jane Franck, Director of Library and Library Administration, and Jennifer Govan, Assistant Director of Collections and Curriculum Support Services at Milbank Memorial Library, lead the program at the Library for Gerguri. The program discussed areas of the library such as the Milbank Web and Research Services, EDUCAT and Academic Information, of Special Collections: Preservation and Conservation, and Collections and Curriculum Support Services.

"The changes in current library management, due to the information age, are from a hierarchical system to one that deals with total quality management, a team approach," said Franck. "Since Mr. Gerguri is from Kosovo, I am suggesting that this system may work for his library because of all the strife there."

Franck said that making staff partnerships helps people to be more proactive, encourages creativity and focuses on the diversity of skills and talents. Librarians from other libraries in other countries are invited here to "share what's happening."

The present Pristina Library was founded in 1944 as a regional library, then made into a provincial library in 1963. In 1970 when the University of Kosovo was founded, the library took on the functions of a university library. By 1983, the library's holdings were comprised of 600,000 volumes.

"School libraries, especially primary ones, are in a bad situation," said Gerguri. "We need to rebuild them from the beginning."

Gerguri spoke about how the ethnic Albanians were locked out of their libraries by the Serb minority population in 1990. All Albanian staff were fired, including Gerguri, and as many as 100,000 of the library's 600,000 books were destroyed. This was in reaction to the abolition of Kosovo's autonomy by the Serbian Authorities in 1989, when most of the Albanian population in Kosovo withdrew from all participation in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).

In September of 1999, the Albanians were let back into the libraries."We are not going to do to Serbian books what the Serbs did to the Albanian books," said Gerguri. "We will put them in their proper collections."

Although it suffered both neglect and damage during the past ten years of political conflict, the seven-level library building is still intact. Right now, only a card catalog is available to readers and the library has not received any technical assistance on how to create a new automated system. Currently there is no international mail, so the library cannot subscribe to journals or periodicals.

"Our library will be an important center where the reading public will find answers to questions, new experiences, new information and access to knowledge, here and elsewhere," said Gerguri. "The experience I am getting at Teachers College is precious for me and the librarians of Kosovo."

Hello Goodbye

Published Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2001

Milbank Library partners with Kosovar National Library

Mehmet Gerguri, Director of the Pristina National and University Library recently visited the Milbank Memorial Library as part of a partnership with several libraries, corporations and the United States State Department to establish seven Internet information centers in Kosovo.

The goal of this effort is to establish the Pristina Library as the "Information Center" in Kosovo where Kosovars can learn about their history, "surf the net" and develop research skills to help rebuild their society, according to a spokesperson from the U.S. State Department.

The "Kosovo Information Assistance Initiative" will be headquartered at Gerguri's library, which will include a "virtual" online library, $1million in book donations, a special children's learning center, a cyber-café, and several other community information projects.

The first phase of this project is to focus on the construction of the centers, hiring and training of local staff, and establishment of local and area-wide networks to provide Internet connections.

As the project progresses, each regional center will be able to develop its own programs that meet specific needs of the community. The six other centrally located, regional centers that are open to the public will be offshoots of the headquarters that Gerguri is leading. They will serve Kosovo's 2.2 million population and will be located in the cities of Ferizaj, Gjakova, Prizren, Peje, Gililan, and Mirrovica.

Mr. Gerguri was invited here by the U.S. State Department for two weeks to familiarize himself with library technology and libraries in general-specifically university libraries in Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C., said John Zins, Gerguri's U.S. State Department Escort Officer.

Jane Franck, Director of Library and Library Administration, and Jennifer Govan, Assistant Director of Collections and Curriculum Support Services at Milbank Memorial Library, lead the program at the Library for Gerguri. The program discussed areas of the library such as the Milbank Web and Research Services, EDUCAT and Academic Information, of Special Collections: Preservation and Conservation, and Collections and Curriculum Support Services.

"The changes in current library management, due to the information age, are from a hierarchical system to one that deals with total quality management, a team approach," said Franck. "Since Mr. Gerguri is from Kosovo, I am suggesting that this system may work for his library because of all the strife there."

Franck said that making staff partnerships helps people to be more proactive, encourages creativity and focuses on the diversity of skills and talents. Librarians from other libraries in other countries are invited here to "share what's happening."

The present Pristina Library was founded in 1944 as a regional library, then made into a provincial library in 1963. In 1970 when the University of Kosovo was founded, the library took on the functions of a university library. By 1983, the library's holdings were comprised of 600,000 volumes.

"School libraries, especially primary ones, are in a bad situation," said Gerguri. "We need to rebuild them from the beginning."

Gerguri spoke about how the ethnic Albanians were locked out of their libraries by the Serb minority population in 1990. All Albanian staff were fired, including Gerguri, and as many as 100,000 of the library's 600,000 books were destroyed. This was in reaction to the abolition of Kosovo's autonomy by the Serbian Authorities in 1989, when most of the Albanian population in Kosovo withdrew from all participation in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY).

In September of 1999, the Albanians were let back into the libraries."We are not going to do to Serbian books what the Serbs did to the Albanian books," said Gerguri. "We will put them in their proper collections."

Although it suffered both neglect and damage during the past ten years of political conflict, the seven-level library building is still intact. Right now, only a card catalog is available to readers and the library has not received any technical assistance on how to create a new automated system. Currently there is no international mail, so the library cannot subscribe to journals or periodicals.

"Our library will be an important center where the reading public will find answers to questions, new experiences, new information and access to knowledge, here and elsewhere," said Gerguri. "The experience I am getting at Teachers College is precious for me and the librarians of Kosovo."

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