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Getting Started


Welcome to the Public Libraries in Smart Cities and Communities Toolbox!

You can explore this toolbox at your own pace prioritizing the sections and information that fits your needs better. However, if you do not really know where to start, let us offer some help!

Look at the different programs and services below:

Getting started

Computer labs

access to computers, printers…


Wi-Fi access

Digital resources

e-books, digital magazines and newspaper, audiobooks…


Basic computer training

browsing and searching the Internet, office software…


Spaces for public meetings and discussion

Making progress

Book vending machines / media kiosks

Wi-Fi access after hours

Technology lending program

Wi-Fi hotspots, laptops, eReaders, mp3 players…

Advanced training

robots, 3D printers, social media,…

Public services support legal, trade and copyright, tax, health services, immigration services assistance… (mediated or not by technology)

Advancing your role

Makerspaces / fablabs/  music and production studios

Business and innovation centers

Community youth assisting elderly with technology

Open data portals

Civic participation in the design and implementation of smart city/community initiatives at the library


Now, think of the programs and services that you are currently offering in your public library.


If most of them fall within the first category, you have already set the foundation for your contribution to your smart city/community by investing in digital inclusion initiatives, which are key in the development of smart citizens. Smart citizens are digitally literate, which empowers them to become democratic participants in the city/community (increasing the opportunity they have to make their voices heard and to apply their viewpoint in a non-confrontational manner), co-creators (highlighting their capacity to innovate), and ICT users, and therefore “consumers” of smart city initiatives. You may want to start thinking about advancing your contribution to the development of a smart/city community by looking at additional options under the other two categories.


We recommend that, if you are not offering advanced technology-related programs and services yet (making progress-related programs and services) you start by doing so, since you can easily get leverage from the programs and services you are already offering. Visit the Programs and Services section of the toolbox to get more information about each of these specific programs and services and how they relate to smart city/community development.


In addition, do not forget to explore what the Organizational Processes and Marketing and Outreach Tools include, since you will find good ideas to prioritize new programs and services, implement some of the changes you will need to make as a result of your new offerings, and raise awareness and engagement around them.

If you are already offering many of the programs and services within the first two categories, you are now ready to make a more significant contribution to the development of your smart city/community, by not only promoting digital inclusion and developing smart citizens that have access to as well as understand and purposefully use technology to improve their lives, but also by boosting innovation in the community and enabling residents and stakeholders participation and engagement in smart city/community initiatives.


You will find more details about how to set up a makerspace or host an open data portal at the Programs and Services section. You may also want to visit the Organizational Processes and Marketing and Outreach Tools sections to find some ideas about how to make your new programs and services successful, increasing the visibility of your public library as a main actor in the development of a smart city/community.

Finally, if you are already offering many of the programs and services above, congratulations!!! You are probably already being acknowledged as a key stakeholder in the development of your smart city/community. Yet, you may still want to explore this toolbox since you can always find more information about a specific program or service. You may also learn about what other libraries are doing by visiting the Examples section and engaging with them through the Networking section.

If you need further help or have questions, do not hesitate to contact us at the Need Assistance? section. We will be happy to get in touch with you and help navigate the toolbox.

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