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Welcome to the Hague by Ingrid Van Engelshoven

Ingrid Van Engelshoven

Ladies and gentlemen, Welcome to the Library Capital of the World. As you can imagine, I say this with a certain amount of pride.

The Hague is internationally known as the legal capital of the world. Our city attracts more than thirty thousand expats who work at multinationals such as Siemens or Shell. But we are also famous for our UN organisations such as the OPCW, the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the Peace Palace. The Peace Palace, which houses the UN International Court of Justice, is one hundred years old this year.

We will be celebrating this jubilee in several ways, one of which is the Vredesloop Den Haag, a running event initiated by another organisation celebrating its one hundredth anniversary and which is the largest athletic association in The Hague: Haag Atletiek. I myself will be participating in the 10k run.

But you are certainly not sitting still either. You are cycling through the Netherlands. Actually, you are giving us a preview of the Tour de France! There is no better way to get to know our country. There is no better way to get to know each other. After all, this is actually what the tour is all about: an international meeting of professionals.

Today, you are stopping in The Hague. And we want to receive you properly. We are doing this in the heart of Dutch democracy: the Binnenhof. This is the podium for political debate. This is also the best place to talk about the future of our libraries.

Free, unlimited access to information. For every person living in The Hague. This is the main focus for how libraries in The Hague operate. The library sees this as a basic democratic right. This is why they provide such services as free use of WiFi and free access to more than a thousand international newspapers and documents issued by international organisations such as the OPCW. The library’s information specialists provide help in finding the right sources of information. For every person living in The Hague: young or old, highly educated or not, regardless of ethnicity or nationality.

The Hague Public Library promotes itself as the living room for the city, district or neighbourhood as based on the idea of the library being a ‘third place’. It offers a safe environment – the kind of environment you need for free access to information. It offers the perfect place for undisturbed study. It’s the ideal location for interacting with others living in the same district. The Hague Public Library creates no barriers. Our doors are open wide. To people living in our city, for institutions that can offer them something, and for tourists. Our library houses the city’s legal advice centre and the Tourist Information Office. It serves the city and the Municipal Health Service as an information centre. And for people who are unfamiliar with using computers, the library provides targeted training activities and assistance with completing digital forms.

Encouraging media familiarity, language skills and reading for young and old. These are the priorities in our policy. With its training activities in media familiarity, the library is acquainting citizens with new means of digital communication. With its language courses, it is offering immigrants access to the world of information available in Dutch. Not only immigrants but ten percent of ethnic minorities lack sufficient language skills in Dutch.

More and more, the library is becoming a place to work. And I support this development. Traditionally, the library has been a place where citizens find and use information; now it is also becoming an important place for them to generate information. Come and take a look on the fifth floor of the central library sometime. You’ll find dozens of students working here no matter what day you visit. Then you can see what I mean for yourself. Students enjoy the quiet they find here. They also find the information they need for good academic achievement. And best of all: they find each other here.

The Hague Public Library is so much more than a place where books are kept. New challenges lie ahead of us. Challenges I think we should take on. Yesterday, things were good. Tomorrow, though, they’ll be better! With this idea in mind, I am pleased to welcome you. Let’s share our knowledge and talk with each other about the future of the library. To put it in cyclists’ terms, ‘let’s gear up’. The world around us is changing rapidly. So we have to step up our own pace.

But the library is in good condition. So I foresee no problems, only challenges. Let’s take them on together.

Ingrid Van Engelshoven, Deputy Mayor

A greeting from Herman Van Rompuy


We are proud to publish a special greeting to Cycling for libraries tour from Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council. This greeting is a very nice surprise for many reasons. It’s an invitation to us all to cycle to Belgium, it’s a haiku and it contains a very beautiful and the true idea. It reads as follows:

Lezers van boeken
Verbonden door één verhaal
Vormen een ketting.

Straight translation is roughly as follows:

Readers of books
Connected by a story
Form a chain.


Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council
Herman Van Rompuy in Facebook

Greetings from Muntpunt in Brussels

Cycling for libraries is coming to Belgium, whoohoo! Muntpunt is very exited about your visit to Brussels. As the metropolitan library, of course located in the beautiful city of Brussels, we hope you will find your way to our brand new building and to all the other gorgeous sites in the Belgian capital.

We wish you a great, safe and meaningful trip and hope to see you in Brussels!




Greetings from the flemish library and archive association VVBAD

We are thrilled to hear Cycling for Libraries is coming to Belgium this year! Cycling is a popular sport in Flanders and we have a well developed and extensive network of public libraries. Cycling & libraries: we know it is a winning combination!

Our association was founded in 1921, at the time the first public library act was established in Belgium. So, we have a long tradition of bringing librarians (and archivists) together around their common interests and values, of which freedom of information  is the central one.

Cycling for libraries is a wonderful grassroots events. We will encourage our flemish colleagues to join and we will support the event where ever we can. We hope together we can raise the interest of the press, the public and the politicians for the important role public libraries play in society.

We look forward to welcoming you!

Bruno Vermeeren
Co-ordinator VVBAD


Hello from Civic Agenda based here in Brussels


We have been working with technology in Libraries since 2005. Our sister company RegnerateIT led the way in providing Wi-Fi in UK Libraries from 2004 and we now provide Wi-Fi to many UK Libraries and most prestigiously the British Library.

Our real interests are how technology can be leveraged for Economic and social benefit and we identified the Public Library as a key point for delivery in this sector for reasons you as Librarians will know better than we do.

We began an annual discussion here in Brussels in 2009 when we began the European Congress on E-Inclusion and of course we found many voices from across Europe interested in this topic, but we wanted to get the European Commission to become more aware of this conversation and in 2010 the Conference was taken under the wing of the Belgium Presidency of the European Union. This meant that delegations from across the European Union attended and we were given strong support from the team at the Commission dealing with E-inclusion.

In 2011 we were able to link the Conference to the Polish Presidency of the European Union and we were part of the Gdansk Conference at which we were able to bring the Library experience to a mainstream conference on ICT across Europe.

This coincided with the Global Libraries team at BMGF asking us to support their European Union Working Group of 5 countries and their plans to advocate to the Commission for more recognition of the role of Libraries in education and social and e-inclusion and we have had a great year helping them develop their plans.

As the EU plans and funds it’s time towards 2020 we now believe the time is right for Public librarians and their supporters to “ride” to the European Parliament to meet MEPs and to present to them the fantastic opportunity that Public Libraries have to empower citizens of the European Union across its 27 borders and to change lives for the better as part of the EU 2020 European project.

While you take to your bicycles to change the Commission’s perception of Libraries Civic Agenda’s job here in Brussels will be to prepare for your arrival, welcoming you and to make sure your MEPs know you are coming. We will ask a host MEP to bring you into the Parliament building to meet MEPs and their assistants. There will be a reception and activities during the day to give the best chance to meet the Commission and to share your ideas with them.

Civic Agenda will work with you and the team in Finland to develop a “key message” for you to bring and an “ask” to MEPs, to ensure we help them see the link between their EU2020 goals and the work of Librarians in across Europe’s communities.

We look forward to welcoming you to Brussels in June!

Robin Knowles
Civic Agenda

Greetings from Katre Riisalu and Estonian Librarians Association to all the Cycling for Libraries 2012 participants!

katre riisalu

The Estonian Librarians Association is very happy to greet you in Estonia. Our country may be small, but it is rich in contents. We wish you a nice and a meaningful trip, emotional get-together with colleagues and hope that you enjoy the beautiful views of Estonian nature.

I’m sure that this unconference will give you new ideas and knowledge, good memories and good friends.

Welcome to Estonia!

Katre Riisalu
President of the Estonian Librarians Association

Greeting from Kristina Virtanen and IFLA WLIC 2012 in Helsinki

kristina virtanen

I want to salute and applaud all the participants taking part in this year’s Cycling for Libraries tour.

I think Cycling for Libraries is a wonderful marketing tool and opportunity to promote libraries in the societies that they cycle through. It is a good occasion for librarians to meet each other in different environments, and at the same time an inspirational and unique possibility to develop future libraries with the discussions and seminars that will take place during the tour.

I am glad to wish Cycling for Libraries success. At the same time I also want to welcome all the participants to Finland after an active tour in the Baltic States; to take part in IFLA WLIC 2012 in Helsinki, or one of the different pre-conferences in the Baltic States or Finland.

Kristina Virtanen
WLIC 2012 in Helsinki
National coordinator

A welcome from Alma Masevičienė and Raimonda Mockutė from Lithuanian Librarian Association

alma et raimonda

It‘s great honor to our country that the project Cycling for Libraries 2012 will be started in our capital Vilnius. As saying in our country – good start is a half of work. So we‘ll try to create an unforgettable start for this adventure via Baltic states. We want to wish strength and good wind for everyone and here is an entertaining invitation for all of you! 🙂

See you in Vilnius!!!

Alma Masevičienė and Raimonda Mockutė
Lithuanian Librarian Association

A welcome from Silvija Tretjakova and Latvian Librarians Association

Silvija Tretjakova

Hearty greeting to all the Cycling for Libraries 2012 participants! I am impatiently awaiting the end of July when we will be meeting in Vilnius. For me, last year’s ride was the most striking thing I had done in the previous decade. The people I met and the time we spent together cannot be compared with any other mode of communication. The sense of closeness with the journey mates that stems from overcoming, what at least for me was, a physically strenuous journey, is unique. I am overtaken with joy as I am writing back and forth with all of you; I am looking forward to giving you all the best our country has, show you the most beautiful nooks and crannies, visit the best libraries, and introduce you to the supporters of Latvian libraries. We are working hard on the preparations and I do hope we will succeed in showing all we have. We have selected the itinerary, and next week we will help Mace and Jukka chose between two challenging gravel-covered routes between Sigulda and Valmiera. It will be great!

After the ride from Copenhagen to Berlin we claimed to no end what a success it had been! In all Library Association of Latvia meetings, we have been stressing the opportunity for a challenge that Cycling for Libraries offers. We will have supporters join us for many of the legs of the trip through Latvia. Writers have been called on to join conversations with the locals where the library bus Katarina Jee will be stopping.

The destination in Helsinki – the IFLA Annual Conference “Libraries Now! – Inspiring, Surprising, Empowering” – is a spot-on encouragement for librarians all over the world. But first: “Librarians and Library Lovers Now! – Cycling for Libraries in the Baltic States”.

Silvija Tretjakova
President of Latvian Library Association

A welcome from Triinu Seppam and Tallinn Central Library

triinu at tallinn central library office-mugshot
On behalf of Tallinn Central Library and many colleagues from other Estonian libraries, I would like to welcome you to Estonia. An initiative like Cycling for libraries will surely enrichen our library community and bring focus to libraries in our society. We wish you (and me) a soft saddle, long and sustained descent (from the hills), strong will and bright thoughts. And I would like to say to all librarians and friends of libraries – you rock! May Aleksander Sibul (the Force) be with you!

Triinu Seppam
Director of Library Services of Tallinn Central Library

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