Innovative approaches in empowering vulnerable populations through access to information, education, and culture. The Ideas Box usecase

Barbara Schack, Director of Development, Libraries Without Borders

Keynote address
Wednesday 31 August 2016, 9:30am - 10:25am


Following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Libraries Without Borders (LWB) conducted an emergency program in Haiti to help local organizations distribute books and educational resources to internally displaced persons. At this time, several aid agencies in Europe and North America asked us: is what you're doing really a priority?

LWB’s years of dedicated humanitarian assistance in Haiti and now in countries affected by the Syrian crisis have demonstrated that our action in crisis and post-crisis situations is crucial. For what is a man, woman, or child if once their lives are saved, and food and shelter found, are without activity, unable to read, write or communicate? The ability to read, write and access information helps sustain intellectual stimulation to rebuild one's sense of self, reestablish social links and build resilience amid and post crisis. Whether through books, computers, legal assistance or training, access to information and cultural resources empowers individuals and gives them the tools to reconstruct what has been lost.

On this basis, Libraries Without Borders has created, in partnership with UN organisations, designers, librarians, engineers and many others a humanitarian response device for access to information, education and culture: the Ideas Box, a portable media centre that unfolds on 100 square meters. It can accommodate 70 people at a time, 400 per day.

It is fully furnished, weather proof and ergonomic, with its own energy source, it provides tools for:

  • Learning (numerous educational contents, available offline through a local server, books and ereaders),
  • Playing (games, a cinema),
  • Connecting (internet, 30 computers and tablets),
  • Creating (cameras, arts and craft, puppets, a stage and sound system),

With the overall objective of empowering communities to create their own solutions to the challenges they face, through a bottom-up approach and human-centered design methodologies.

Tailored to the needs of the community, it is implemented with the necessary training and on-going support from LWB and the global community of Ideas Box users and contributors.

Barbara Schack presents the journey of the Ideas Box and results from two years of pilot programs in settings ranging from refugee camps to remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Queensland and Western Australia, in partnership with the State libraries.

Learn more by watching this video

Presentation - Not yet available.

Video - Not yet available.


Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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