At a time of rapid change in our economies and societies, there has never been a greater need to keep learning throughout life. The 5th conference of the Lifelong Learning Platform provided an opportunity to share stories from the rich experience of libraries in this field, and build relations. Anette Mjöberg, Secretary of the Public Libraries Section attended for IFLA.

Anette Mjöberg (IFLA), Christina Paulus (BOK University)​The Lifelong Learning Platform is a European organisation bringing together organisations committed to helping people access education throughout their lives. This opens up possibilities to learn, develop new skills, and take on new jobs. The Platform’s members represent over 50 000 associations and institutions.

Libraries have long been committed to the concept of lifelong learning, through their provision of access to information for all, including those no-longer registered in formal education. 24 million adults a year in Europe benefit from skills and training through libraries. Given their focus on communities, and openness to all sorts of people, they are particularly important for disadvantaged people.

This role has increasingly been recognised in policy documents, although further recognition will help ensure that libraries receive the support they need to maximise their potential. The conference of the Lifelong Learning Platform represented a chance to do this.

Anette Mjöberg, Secretary of the Public Libraries Section represented IFLA at the 5th Annual Conference of the Lifelong Learning Platform, under the theme Lifelong Learning Culture: A Partnership for Rethinking Education. She spoke both in an open session on the overall theme of the conference – creating a culture of lifelong learning – and one on the importance of learning environments.

Under the title ‘Lifelong Learning in Libraries: The People’s University?’, she highlighted how libraries are changing lives, from bookclubs for newcomers to Hässleholm in Sweden, makerspaces in Greenland, cooking lessons in Columbus, United States, and student engagement in protecting the Library of Alexandria during the Arab Spring. Through traditional and digital literacy, as well as other skills, libraries empower people and societies.

Thanks to her words, participants learnt to recognise the work of libraries, and many started to refer to their work in their own interventions. A number of organisations sought to build contacts and understanding of how they too could work with libraries.

Find out more about the work of IFLA’s Public Libraries Section.