Moldovan Public Libraries Emerge to Address the Needs of a Multicultural Population

GROTELUESCHEN, Gina (2015) Moldovan Public Libraries Emerge to Address the Needs of a Multicultural Population. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa in Session 186 - Library services to Multicultural populations.

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Language: English (Original)
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Moldovan Public Libraries Emerge to Address the Needs of a Multicultural Population

The Republic of Moldova is a small country in Eastern Europe with a complicated history and a mix of languages and cultures. Gaining independence in 1991, Moldova remains a country in transition and one of the poorest country in Europe. While intercultural relations are currently peaceful, issues of culture remain sensitive due to overarching geopolitical threats and divided opinion on the country’s connection to its Soviet past. Although Romanian became the national language in 1990, language is a still a point of contention for many Moldovans, as 75% of the population calls Romanian their native language and 16% claim Russian. Moldova also harbors two breakaway territories, Transnistria in the east and Gagauzia in the south, which have recently held referendums regarding their allegiances with their own country. In the midst of this complex environment, libraries are emerging as neutral junctions where the needs of the multilingual and multicultural community can be addressed. With recent government and foreign investments in libraries, Moldovan libraries are undertaking rapid change. Communities are redefining their libraries as community centers that offer services and digital access to their diverse constituents. Moldovans, particularly in rural areas, need a neutral that is open to the needs of all citizens of distinct cultural, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds. This paper highlights the principles and practices that Moldovan libraries are employing to address their complex and sensitive multicultural environment. Moldovan libraries are now adopting new technologies, ideas, and practices that promote integration and community development. Moldovans are only recently discovering that libraries can be a resource to help them connect with family members working abroad, find information about employment and education opportunities, and offer training on basic IT skills. With government and NGO partners that are increasingly understanding the power of public libraries, Moldova has the opportunity to unite around these public spaces, using electronic resources to adapt to a multicultural population, and bring together disparate groups around common aspirations.

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