| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The “Knowledge Lunch Box book delivery service” is convenient and rapid thanks to the IT-based Integrated Library Network.
Citizens can join the library and search for a book to borrow from a library via the Integrated Library Network. If the library doesn’t have a particular book, the user can make a request for it to be delivered to the nearest library. Then, one or two days later, he/she will receive a message about the book delivery and can check it out of the library. Books can also be delivered to an unmanned U-Libraries at subway stations so that the users can check them out during their commuting time. Also, users can request the delivery of books and receive information on their delivery status via a smart phone application.
This network connects 40 libraries holding 620,000 books. Moreover, the Smart Library (unmanned operation) installed at Sillim subway station allows users to borrow books directly like a general library. Such a library system operated by cutting-edge IT is also called the “Library in the palm of the hand”.
In particular, it was selected at “the 2012 U-Library Service Support Poject” contest hosted by the Minister of the Interior.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
During 2016, the libraries were used by 1,873,192 citizens, of whom 560,369 borrowed 468,721 books. Among them, 46,872 users checked 65,826 books out of the U-Libraries at subway stations. The number of library members is 160,393, meaning that about 1/3 of Gwanak-gu’s entire population (510,000 people) are library members, with the number more than doubling since the early stage of the project. The “Knowledge Lunch Box book delivery service”, in which the desired book is delivered to the user’s nearest library, dealt with a total of 402,431 books which, if stacked up one on top of the other, would reach as high as Mt. Everest.
In 2016, a total of 281 Reading Clubs with 2,487 members were registered and received guidance on how to invigorate their local reading club and lectures in the humanities, and 241 reading clubs were granted financial support for books. In addition, 110 reading clubs received a consulting service designed to boost their ability to continue with their activities and attract new members from 23 consultants based with other reading clubs.
Since 2011, Gwanak-gu has operated Korea’s first program designed to encourage elderly people to produce their autobiography in order to record and preserve their precious life stories, and some 50 people aged 65 or more have published their ‘autobiography’ in book form and held a publication party under the program.
Launched in 2011, the Book Start scheme has benefited 37,384 people so far by providing various programs, including Book Play at libraries, the Parents’ Club and the Bedside Fairytale Book Project.
A large-scale lecture program was carried out from 2013 to 2014; however, it was changed into the Everyday Lecture in the Humanities to improve public access, and a total of 37,498 people attended 558 lectures in the humanities between 2015 and 2016.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
【2010~2014】 Preparation of hardware-oriented infrastructure and implementation of various reading programs
▶Oct.7,2010～Feb.11,2011 Establishment of the basic plan for the medium and long-term development of Gwanak-gu Libraries
The plan to reinforce library’s functions and to promote a reading culture was established based on a general analysis of local characteristics, library resources, etc.
▶2010~Dec.2014 Increase in the number of libraries (5→43)
Diverse types of libraries, including 20 small libraries operated on a purely voluntary basis, 2 container-type libraries, 5 unmanned U-Libraries, 3 children and infants’ libraries, 1 multicultural reference library, etc were established to meet citizens’ various needs.
▶Nov.2010~May.2011 Construction of Integrated Library Homepage and Mobile Library
The computer and Smartphone App system, allowing users to borrow and receive books (through the “Knowledge Lunch Box book delivery service”) and to request their desired books.
▶Nov.2010~Dec.2014 Establishment of Integrated Library Network connecting 40 libraries holding a total of 620,000 books
The network enables users to check a book out of their nearest library within one to two days. Users can also borrow/return books at the U-Library at subway stations.
▶2011 ~ Hosting of the Book Festival, encouraging the elderly to produce their autobiography, Living Library, Book Start Movement, etc.
【2015~present】 Emphasis on software-oriented Knowledge Welfare areas
▶March2015 Establishment of the Humanities Support Center
The Humanities Support Center was founded to popularize the general humanities. It provides extended lectures on the humanities to help citizens cultivate their liberal arts knowledge through public-private-academic cooperation. Around 558 lectures have been given since 2015.
▶Nov.2014~present Implementation of registration system of Reading Clubs
Starting with 44 clubs in 2014, the number of Reading Clubs has now reached 281. Gwanak-gu has expanded its overall support and its members’ opportunities for policy participation to vitalize the Reading Clubs.
Continuous promotion of reading culture and lifelong learning programs based on libraries.
【Monitoring and Evaluation】
Through the citizens’ policy evaluation and survey held at the end of each year since 2010, Gwanak-gu’s major projects including the Knowledge Welfare project are evaluated by its citizens. In addition, Gwanak-gu has established the reading culture promotion ordinance and the humanities center support ordinance to define the scope of the district civil servants’ obligations and support.
Small Libraries are operated purely by Saemaul Mini-Library members on a voluntary basis. The membership includes people with experience of operating a library for up to 20 years, and who educate other members on how to run an autonomous library. The members (2,487) of 281 registered Reading Clubs are dedicated to establishing a reading environment for all citizens, planning reading programs, and carrying them out by themselves. Moreover, as volunteers actively participate in talent donation activities such as grandma’s story-telling, Book Start, and reading programs, the project expenses have been reduced.
Along with an investment of KRW 244 million in the U-Library support project, Gwanak-gu has attracted about KRW 700 million through various public competition projects. In addition, a benefactor donated KRW 100 million to establish the “Yongkkumkkuneun small Library”, and publishers and residents continuously donate books to the library. Furthermore, the Kkumnamu Infant Library located at the site of the main library was opened in a new building constructed with a donation of KRW 3 billion from a benefactor in Gwanak-gu.
Integrated Library System, which was designed to improve accessibility and rectify the shortcomings, enables users to easily join the membership and request books using the Smartphone App or a computer. Moreover, users can check books out of an unmanned U-Library at a subway station, a service that helps all citizens including office workers, students, and vulnerable groups to access Knowledge Welfare easily.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Mayor of Gwanak-gu Yoo Jong-pil, an important contributor to the Knowledge Welfare project
He has strived to promote smooth collaboration with the Saemaul Mini-Libraries since the early stage of the Knowledge Welfare project. This unique case was achieved through long and patient negotiations between the Saemaul Mini-Libraries and Gwanak-gu in which Mayor Yoo Jong-pil played a leading role.
He has introduced the good programs of Gwanak-gu to other regions.
He has given about 100 presentations and lectures on successful Knowledge Welfare project in and out of Korea - including China in November 2016 (event organized by UNICEF) and Japan in February 2017 (publication ceremony for World Library Tour in Japanese) - in order to widely promote the Knowledge Welfare project.
As a former director of the National Assembly Library, he published a steady-selling book titled World Library Tour in three languages (Korean, Japanese, and Taiwanese).
He is often referred to as the “Library Preacher”
Saemaul Mini-Library members’ devotion reduced costs by KRW970,000,000/year
It took over six months to transform each Saemaul Mini-Library (total of 20) into a district public library. The process began with the members’ advice on how to remodel the mini-libraries, after which it took four months to enter information on 3,000~6,000 information into the book management system. Since the opening of the library, everything from facility management to operation has been carried out purely by volunteers. Moreover, as the 345 members (12 to 25 people from each village) are all women, the library acts as a venue for sharing the information on local childcare and parenting. The program’s contribution was recognized at a national level with the 2014 President’s Award for Reading Culture.
(The Saemaul Mini-Library system has started as a purely voluntary grass-roots movement since 1970’s. Mini libraries didn’t meet the requirement of small public libraries.)
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Gwanak’s most successful achievement is its break from its image as a shantytown, which degraded its urban value for many years. Gwanak-gu overcame its poor financial situation by implementing the Knowledge Welfare project. In addition, it prevents the poorest and most vulnerable groups from becoming alienated from knowledge and information.
The elements that contributed to Gwanak-gu’s SDGs are as follows:
SDG3 All the library facilities in the city were Integrated into the network at a low cost, while a “Knowledge Welfare for everyone” was created by creating an environment conducive to study of the humanities and by providing support for reading clubs, so that citizens of all ages can experience a revitalized community and a healthy lifestyle.
. SDG4 Since 2015, some 558 lectures in the humanities have been held all over the city, including the ongoing series of “Everyday Lectures in the Humanities”. In addition, libraries have been established as venues for cultivating themselves through planning and talent donations.
SDG5 Every library is equipped with facilities and books for infants and children so that mothers can carry out their own self-development, childcare, voluntary work, etc. at a library. Women and girls, who account for around 93% of reading club members (2,487 people), participate freely in social activities via the medium of books with financial support for books and the community network’s support. Above all, 345 female members are proud to take part in this initiative involving 20 small libraries.
SDG10 The ultimate purpose of Knowledge Welfare is to resolve the problems of alienation from knowledge and inequality. In other words, everyone should have equal access to the benefits of knowledge, just like the sun shines for everyone. Citizens can use the Knowledge Welfare system not only free of charge but also with financial support.
SDG17 Along with 80 teams in Korea, 9 overseas inspection teams, including the Mayor of Technical and Environmental Administration, in Copenhagen, Denmark, and the Mayor of Setagaya in Japan, visited the Knowledge Welfare project sites. The state-run China Central Television aired a special report on “Gwanak’s Characteristic Libraries”. Gwanak-gu’s libraries have also been reported in various overseas newspapers,
The mayor of Gwanak-gu presented the excellent case of the Knowledge Welfare project at the first UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities in 2016. He also received a positive response to his lecture in Japan in 2017.
Gwanak-gu’s Knowledge Welfare projects have contributed to their overseas promotion.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The city’s poor financial situation was the main problem
Gwanak-gu collected ideas for mobilizing local resources to establish an infrastructure that satisfies the public at a low cost.
A good example is the Yongkkumkkuneun small Library located on the first floor of the Gwanak-gu Office, which have enabled easy access by using small plots of land belonging to the public office. This library was established with a benefactor’s donation of KRW 100,000,000 and with donations of books. Dedicated to the city, the library was opened in the abandoned Gwanak Mountain ticket office, while the unmanned U-Libraries at subway stations and the Integrated Library System were established via the government competition for a U-Library support project. Furthermore, the budget was reduced through other competition projects such as the “Small Library Support Project”, etc and various creative ideas including the container-type libraries in a park. As a result, the number of libraries was increased from 5 to 43 at a low cost, and they are called “Good Libraries.”
Lack of understanding about the Knowledge Welfare project
The next problem is the fact that due to a general lack of understanding about the Knowledge Welfare project, as well as the difficult economic situation, the desire for knowledge is inevitably subordinate to other living expenses. The provision of Knowledge Welfare does not consist in “catching fish for the people,” but is rather a sustainable project of “teaching the people how to catch fish” that has consistently evolved since 2010.
An opinion poll targeting 1,000 citizens revealed that 46.4% of the respondents viewed “the Knowledge Welfare project” as Gwangak-gu’s best policy.
Consequently, the image of Gwanak-gu has been changed from that of a shantytown to a Knowledge Welfare city, and is now visited by domestic and overseas officials seeking to learn about Gwanak-gu’s innovative policy.