Investing in the development of librarians is important because they are a significant reason for the greatness libraries provide to the communities and visitors they support and teach.

This week’s post is written by Dr. Gopal Mohan Shukla, a librarian with the Government Public Library in Allahabad, India. In his post Dr. Gopal discusses the positive impact the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI) has had building and developing leaders in global public libraries. If you are interested in contacting Dr. Gopal Mohan Shukla for further discussions or a copy of the original full length article he can be reached at

INELI: International Network of Emerging Library Innovators – Global Movement of Public Libraries Transformation

The International Network of Emerging Library Innovators (INELI) is the global public library leadership building program. It stretches across seven regions in the world, primarily funded and supported by the Global Libraries initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). Bill & Melinda Gates have built their foundation on the belief that “all lives have equal value” and, there is no institution that better embodies this belief than the public library.

Public libraries play a key role in the development of knowledge-based society around the world. Keeping this in mind, the Global Library initiative of the BMGF started in 2002 as a global network for public librarians. The Global Libraries initiative is working to keep public libraries relevant, and ensure they remain the vibrant information hub of their communities.

Now the work and scope of public libraries has changed phenomenally. Computers with Internet access have literally transformed libraries from dusty study rooms to vibrant community access points. While libraries are providing the link between information creators and consumers, Librarians create the link between the requirement and usage of information.

The most important indicator of the success of the library is the staff, specifically the skills and passion of the librarian. Click To Tweet

National grants are a part of a multi-intervention approach, supporting wide-scale implementation of open access in public libraries. Global Libraries work with grantees to understand the needs of each community, and provide different kinds of suitable support. In addition to national grants, there are several other grants that aim to strengthen and build the global libraries field at large, including investments to support library associations, train advocates for public libraries, support innovation, conduct research into library access and usage, and also to develop library leaders.

The Gates Foundation has been supporting public libraries for last 20 years with an investment of $ 1 billion. Public library professionals around the world are facing unprecedented challenges, and these challenges offer the opportunity for public library professionals to redefine a public library. BMGF recognize the importance of library personnel, hence they are investing in the development of public library professionals. The foundation has worked around the world and observed that the most important indicator of a successful library is not the size of the building or the size of the library’s budget. It’s also not the number of books on the shelves or the computers available for the public. The most important indicator of the success of the library is the staff, specifically the skills and passion of the librarian.


The INELI program exists to provide the opportunity for emerging library leaders to connect with each other, explore new ideas, experiment with new services, and learn from one another. There are now seven regional INELI groups carrying forward the vision of building a worldwide network of innovative leaders of public libraries.

These are:


INELI – Balkans

INELI – India and South Asia

INELI – Latin America

INELI – MENA (Middle East and North Africa)

INELI – Oceania

INELI – Sub Saharan Africa

The INELI has become an effective platform, globally, for nurturing creativity and innovation in public library staff. During the program, library staff improve their capacity to become an Innovator. The Global Libraries initiative of BMGF believes that emerging library leaders cannot act with yesterday’s logic. They must be provided with opportunities to connect with each other, to explore new ideas, experiment with new services, and learn from one another.

INELI has become a network of public library professionals around the world. It has the ability to guide what can and should be done in public libraries in the future. It is also very helpful in the development of the skills necessary to implement the vision in their respective countries. The approach BMGF took with the Global Library initiatives was to work with governments and other public and private organizations to bring new technology, foster innovation in public libraries, along with training public library professionals, and providing guidance for policy changes that benefit public libraries.


The prime vision of this program is to create different regional networks of emerging public library leaders, as well as fostering collaboration and partnership among stakeholders in the regions.

The foundation achieves this by focusing energies:

  • To renovate and sustain public libraries throughout the world.
  • To create international network of future public library innovative leaders.
  • To enhance leadership skills in public library professionals to enable them to meet contemporary needs of people in their respective countries in future.
  • To foster collaboration and partnership of stakeholders in the region.
  • To explore global library issues that have the potential to stimulate, expand and improve public library service.
  • To adapt Global Library INELI in regional context.

Basic components of program

Innovators: The participants of the program are known as innovators. High performing learners and professionals have been selected only for this program, with expectation of professional excellence in their field.

Mentor: There is a team of mentors for guidance of innovators. All of them have vast library and community sector leadership experience in their career. Mentors support the innovators.

The Convening: There is provision of face to face convening (meetings) including international convening. The learning cycle involves in face-to-face convening as series of workshops, discussions and networking opportunities.

Online Learning Modules: There are online learning modules in this program. The innovators work on modules, both individually and in groups. Different learning styles are accommodated in the modules through a mix of:

  • Online readings, exercises and quizzes
  • Individual paired and team assignments
  • Online exchange forum
  • Telephonic conversation with mentors and sponsors
  • Reflective responses

The innovators are enhancing their skills, and expanding their knowledge by studying the following topics through an online platform:

  • Self-development
  • Innovation
  • Time Management
  • Change Management
  • Understanding Leadership
  • Team Building
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Community Needs
  • Goal Setting and getting the Goal
  • Community Information Resources and Services
  • Communication skills
  • Advocacy
  • Project Planning and Implementation
  • Vision for Public Libraries

Innovative Services: The Innovators are applying the learning’s of this course in their libraries. They are developing and designing innovative projects in their libraries to bring change and start new services to meet community needs.

Networking: There is provision of both online and off-line networking in this program. All innovators, mentors and other related people have connected with online network.

Events: Innovators organize different kinds of events regularly in their libraries and other important places, to encourage community involvement.

Partnership: This program is implemented with the collaboration of other related organizations and bodies.


The Global Libraries initiative is investing in the INELI innovators as the next generation of public library leaders, so that they will become an agent of change in their communities and regions. The program has brought a new vision and a way forward for library professionals to effectively make public libraries more useful and user-friendly. The efforts of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation towards the betterment of public libraries are highly appreciated, as they have brought about a huge push for innovation and relevancy in this field.

We will be back next week with another interesting article from the library world!

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