INTERNEST – transforming school libraries into infotheques in Serbia


Internest is a program of activities aimed at transforming school libraries into infotheques – centers for managing information and ordering knowledge. It encourages gifted pupils to explore on their own, to enrich and widen their knowledge in line with their affinities, it supports their creative productivity and initiatives to acquire knowledge and prepares them to meet the modern society challenges and engage in a process of permanent personal and professional specialization.

The Internest project has primarily been devised as a part of the education system reform which certainly is one of the most important social reform processes and entails perceiving the opportunities to encourage pupils’ and teachers’ creativity, as well as to assist the creation of a new culture of learning  through proper changes of the school environment. An accelerating technological revolution and the emergence of new media have, mostly for two reasons, raised the issues of appropriateness and constraints of the traditional education concept. The first reason is a general, usually almost free access to information, and a greater availability of knowledge, resulting in a largely revised status of school, role of teachers and education system. Failed expectations regarding pupils’ efficacity in independent use of opportunities offered by new media and of an advanced selection of information are the second reason. That is exactly why modern society should implement speedy reforms aimed at innovating and modernizing the education system, bringing it into line with the technological evolution and the information society principles, in order to realize the concept of a knowledge society. The purpose is to enable pupils, and teachers as well, to master the appropriate knowledge and skills for using the most advanced information technologies in their lives and work, and that entails the broadest sense of knowledge and media literacy. The evolution of technology and of modern  communication forms has greatly widened and modified the concept of „media“, making them the most important and most powerful tool of a conscientious and participatory citizen in all democratic societies, as well as in those aspiring to democracy. School is not the only, but it is still the most important domain from which emerge literate, educated, conscientious and active citizens, able to decide independently on the advance of the community they live in. It is up to schools, as the institutions enabling such an important process, to create champions of social changes with a proactive attitude to reality.

Activities of the Internest project have been designed to introduce and enhance media culture in schools. By taking advantage of modern technological advances in communications, groups of pupils and their mentors should establish contacts with their colleagues abroad, primarily in the regional and wider European context, and take part in the intercultural dialogue.

Because school libraries are often neglected, in very poor condition, with obsolete holdings, mostly without skilled managers, and with a very limited multimedia contents, they do not qualify as centers for exploring, processing and distrtibuting information, nor as motivators or guides for the gifted pupils’ advancement.

With all this in mind, Biblioteka plus has developed and has for years successfully implemented the Internest project, which basically means transforming school libraries into modern infotheques where the main library product are information and specialized educational services. In the capacity of school information center, the infotheque serves as an axle for managing information and ordering useful knowledge, and provides an open working place where pupils can express their personal initiatives and entrepreneurship, and the infotheque operator makes notes of their suggestions and forms projects together with them, exploring also possibilities for their implementation. Project competitions, which are intended for pupils, provide a system of motivation, recognition and rewards, encouraging research activities and creativity based on efficient and economical use of all available media resources, from books to the Internet. Project implementation process occupies minds of gifted pupils and provides them with a fertile ground for communication and creation. By discovering and liberating pupils’ creative energy, Internest becomes a source of ideas and inovations, a kind of center of excellence. It is a program of teachers’ and pupuls’ joint learning and work, and encourages schools to become a space for open and creative thinking and research.

Internest‘s Vision

  • Creating institutional structures to enable a more efficient support to gifted pupils;
  • creating conditions and motivations for a faster and full-scaled social development.

Internest‘s Mission

  • Encouragement and enhancement of media culture, critical thinking and creativity among pupils.

Internest‘s Strategy

  • Transformation and promotion of school libraries into modern centers of excellence.

Internest‘s Tasks

  • Training of librarians and adjusting their performance;
  • furnishing of libraries, cataloging publications and other resources, producing and ordering new resources (forming of archives, thematic files, webographies, photo, video, and audio materials, producing functional thematic bibliographies, etc.);
  • conceptualizing and establishing the infotheque, developing original program activities and inovations;
  • international creative cooperation and partnership networking;
  • development of an evaluation and rewarding system.

Transformation of school libraries into school information centers involves a creative environment intended for individual, voluntary participation and encouragement to link gifted and highly motivated pupils, teachers and outside experts into projects. The infotheque produces various media resources for curricular and extracurricular activities and supports teachers’, librarians’, and pupils’ efforts to manage knowledge and enhance creativity. By providing a creative environment for extracurricular activities, the infotheque provides incentives for independent research, encourages international links among gifted and highly motivated pupils, teachers and outside experts through implementation of projects. The infotheque activities create basic conditions for understanding creative economics and the knowledge society. A long-term goal, which has for years been successfully integrated into implementation of the Internest project, is creation of a team of experts and strengthening of the professional community as a competent and motivated core of the campaign for including the issues of media literacy and culture of communications into school curricula, and the precondition for successful implementation of the project is its aceptance and support by professionals.

Internest‘s Strategic Goals

  • Transformation of school libraries into school information centers – producing and organizing media resources for curicular and extracurricular activities;
  • managing knowledge and enhancing creativity – adopting methodology of a reliable and effective use of information sources and enhancing teachers’, librarians’ and pupils’ information culture;
  • affirmation of individual initiative – direct contacts with institutions and individuals in the international environment and raising the level of professional awareness;
  • developing a sense of belonging to a wider European creative domain – implementation of international projects and networking.