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EU - Egyptian Seminar
Public Libraries and the Information Society
Cairo, Egypt, 7 - 9 December 1998

Updated: 09 NOV 98


This seminar will be held in the Heliopolis Public Library of the Heliopolis Community Foundation, one of the best public libraries in Egypt. The Heliopolis Community Foundation is by far the largest foundation in Egypt; its activities range from education to health and urbanisation to the promotion of reading and support of public libraries.

The seminar will take place within the framework of the Egyptian campaign "Reading for all", jointly organised with UNESCO , which takes place every year from June to September in all public libraries in Egypt, attracting a lot of political and media attention. The main aims of the seminar will be to generate discussion, at both political and professional level, on the potential contribution of public libraries to the building of the Information Society and to stimulate EU-Egyptian as well as regional co-operation in order to attain this goal.

In the seminar, the findings of the study on Public Libraries and the Information Society will be discussed. This study was published in 1997 by the European Commission DG XIII/E-4. The research was carried out by a consortium consisting of the Danish Library School , the Danish Library Authority and the Deutsches Bibliotheksinstitut . It developed a well argued strategy for the public library community on how to deal with the challenges of the Information Society and defined models and scenarios that offer public libraries, and not just those located in the EU, practical guidance.

International organisations such as UNESCO, the British Council and the African Information Society Initiative have already confirmed their participation and support, and other relevant organisations such as UNITAR are expected to contribute to the seminar as well.

Preliminary Programme


I Opening Session


  • Mrs. Suzanne Mubarak, Chairperson, Heliopolis Community Foundation
  • Representative, Ministry of Education and Culture, Egypt
  • Representative, European Commission
  • Representative, UNESCO
  • Representative, The British Council
  • Representatives of other sponsoring agencies

II A Vision of Public Libraries

Dr. Ahmed Helal, Advisor to the Heliopolis Community Foundation

Democratising Access and the Potential of Public Libraries: An Egyptian view
Speaker from Egypt

A Vision of Public Libraries in the Information Society: Roles, functions and services of the public library
Jens Thorhauge, National Librarian, Denmark

The Future of Public Libraries: The perceptions of a non-librarian
Representative of Bertelsmann Foundation, Germany and Egypt

Discussion and summary of main issues and recommendations


III Policy and Legal Framework

Margaret Haines, Library and Information Commission, UK

The Globalization of Information: Barriers and opportunities for public libraries
Ariane Iljon, European Commission, Luxembourg

National Information and Communication Plan for Egypt: A place for public libraries?
Egyptian Speaker

Policy Awareness and Public Library Development : Case study Portugal
Mme. Maria Jose Moura, Conselho Superior de Bibliotecas, Portugal

Discussion and summary of main issues and recommendations

IV Education and Training

Representative from UNESCO Information and Informatics Division, Paris

Training and Capacity Building: How public libraries can adapt, adopt and exploit new technologies
Ioannis Trohopolous, Public Library Veria, Greece

Information Literacy: Public libraries and their users in the IT age
Egyptian speaker

Managing Change: Can training centres of excellence provide the skills?
Speaker from the United Nations Institute for Training and Research UNITAR (from the region)

Discussion and summary of main issues and recommendations


V Information Technology and Co-operation

Chairperson: Egyptian Representative

PubliCA - The Pan-European Platform for Public Libraries: Does co-operation make a difference?
Jan Vanvaerenbergh, Public Library Leuven, Belgium

Public Libraries and other Information Providers: Co-operation or competition?
Egyptian speaker

Public Library Networks: Case study UK
Chris Batt, Libraries and Museums Officer, Croydon, UK

Discussion and summary of main issues and recommendations

VI Closing Session

Representative of the African Information Society Initiative

Panel Discussion, Conclusions and Recommendations

For participation in the seminar the organiser should be contacted directly:
Dr. Ahmed Helmi Helal
European Commission
DG Information Society
Cultural Heritage Applications Unit
e-mail: (email removed)

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