National Library of the Philippines
Best Practice Focus Area/s
May 2018- present
This is a GBPR entry
The Network of Emerging Filipino Library Innovators (NEFLI) is a three-year leadership training program for public library personnel in the Philippines. It is adapted from one of the Global Libraries (GL) initiatives, which is the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI), funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wherein one of the staff of the National Library of the Philippines (NLP) and the NLP Director were innovators and sponsors respectively in their first implementation for the first international cohort in 2011-2013.
Background and Problem
In 2011, one effort that the Gates Foundation began to support was the INELI, a network of library leaders worldwide who have skills and experience in developing innovative services for users. The INELI’s first cohort was conducted from October 2011 to October 2013. In March 2014, the Foundation started the GL wind down. They began to tap regional implementers to provide opportunities to explore and be connected where stakeholders can share information and best practices and not reinvent the wheel. In June 2015, the Foundation decided to exit the field of global library leadership, wanting to leave the sector strong and identify legacy partners to carry forward GL’s strategic goals of improving lives through public libraries around the world, which they call INELI Regional Network Development or INELI Track.
There were seven existing INELI Tracks: INELI-ASEAN, INELI-Balkans, INELI-India, INELI -Latin America, INELI-MENA, INELI-Oceania, and INELI- Sub-Saharan Africa. On May 4, 2015, NLP received a grant from the Gates Foundation as one of the implementers of INELI in the ASEAN region. After the implementation of the INELI-ASEAN, the INELI-ASEAN Project Team decided to come up with an INELI-like program in the Philippines while promoting it at the same time to other ASEAN countries. Last quarter of 2017, the team kept on conceptualizing INELI-Philippines. It is called NEFLI until March 2018.
Recognizing the various challenges that the public libraries in the country continuously face, such as the lack of solid partnership and collaborations among them, specifically, the lack of a common and practical platform to enable easy access to vital information and a conducive venue for relevant knowledge and information exchange, the development of an effective and feasible mechanism to address the aforementioned issues and concerns becomes imperative. In this context, the NEFLI became instrumental in identifying, adopting, and innovating strategies for developing public librarians’ leadership capacities and technical skills. It created an opportunity to capacitate emerging public library leaders in undertaking relevant innovations for optimizing the roles and functions of public libraries. Likewise, it significantly enhanced the participants’ leadership skills and competencies. Further, NEFLI provided a venue for the exchange in addressing national public library issues that have the potential to stimulate, expand, and improve public library operations and services. Thus, NEFLI became an adoption of an international best practice in building capacities of public library personnel.
The NEFLI program aimed to (1) enhance the leadership skills and build capacities of emerging public library leaders in the country; (2) create a vibrant network of public library leaders; (3) foster collaboration and strong partnership among stakeholders; and (4) implement collaborative projects in the country that will help improve public libraries and their communities. Public librarians, officers-in-charge, and staff of public libraries affiliated with NLP are the target participants of this program.
Solution and Impact
Various methods and tools were employed to ensure that the program’s objectives would be realized.
- As an initial requirement of the program, applicants/innovators must evaluate themselves through a Self-Assessment Tool and submit their Self-Development Plans. This self-development plan will address the weaknesses of innovators that need to be strengthened through the conduct of various activities they plan to implement in their organization/library.
- Online Learning Modules through the Online Learning Portal. There were ten online learning modules to be administered during the duration of the program located on the online learning platform. Each module followed a schedule and was entailed to be finished within a given time frame.
- Convenings and Midway Meetings. The Convenings are the annual gathering of all the NEFLI Program participants–the innovators, mentors, co-mentors, learning facilitators, the organizing team, observers, partners, and guests. The goal is to continue building a strong network of outstanding emerging library leaders with a strong vision for the future of public libraries in the country through discussions, sharing, workshops, talks/meetings, library visits, and other activities.
- Collaborative Projects–the innovators will be divided into five groups with a mentor and co-mentor each to work on a project that has the following themes or key areas: (1) Libraries must meet the needs of their users by offering useful, relevant content and services; (2) Libraries must offer an inviting space; (3) Libraries must demonstrate their impact by measuring the benefit they provide to individuals and communities; (4) Libraries must advocate for the support they need to deliver strong, relevant programs over the long term; and, (5) Libraries must create high-impact partnerships that best leverage community resources.
The NEFLI Program demonstrates that interventions such as those used in the program’s online learning modules, self-development plans, and collaborative projects improved and built the capacities of the innovators. These were shown in the changes in their behavior, such as being more confident, gaining communication skills, leading teams, mentoring others, being a good team member, and being promoted, among others. The innovators also learned various topics in their learning modules, which they could use in their personal and professional lives.
The innovators could partner and collaborate with their colleagues in the country through activities and collaborative projects. These projects are hoped to be carried out as the teams already have sustainability plans. The camaraderie and relationships were developed. Stories of change can be viewed through the promotion pamphlet/brochure.
For the first cohort, 14 innovators completed the said program and continuously innovated their library programs and services. These innovators have also been invited to act as subject matter experts in training offered by PLD to public libraries. Also, some of them are mentors of the second cohort. For the second cohort, 11 innovators are completing the said program, with almost ten observers from Malaysia and the Philippines as possible third cohort innovators.
This is NEFLI’s first attempt to apply for an award. The program recognizes deserving individuals and teams during the second and third convenings. The NLP, implemented in the ASEAN region in 2018, focused on implementing it in the Philippines. INELI-MENA was recognized as WSIS 2020 Champion.
Next steps: (1) Continue to implement and improve the program, based on the recommendation of innovators and existing conditions, every 2-year; (2) Look into the possibility of having a partner national library in the ASEAN Region to implement such a program to improve the communication skills of participants further; (3) Promote further the said program and asynchronous type of training to entice more public library personnel to join.