Veria Library, a small institution in northern Greece, “is about making people’s lives easier and better, not just about housing books and information,” says Ioannis Trohopoulos, director of the Library. “We are a small library that is committed to offering modern tools and services to help as many people as possible find new economic, academic, and social opportunities.” The library serves the 50,000 residents of Veria, and 130,000 more people in the surrounding area. To reach people in distant rural villages, the library sends out mobile libraries equipped with books and laptop computers.

In addition to offering advanced information and technology services to its users, the library has become a vibrant community center that promotes learning and creativity. To develop a network of library and information services in the region, the Veria Library has worked diligently to form cooperative partnerships with other libraries, programs, and institutions within Greece and around the world. These relationships have provided opportunities to exchange experience and knowledge to benefit the communities these organizations serve.

“The Veria Library has brought positive change to the lives of the many people it serves,” said Deborah Jacobs, director of the Global Libraries initiative for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “It’s a testament to Veria’s ingenuity that such a small library in the mountainous region of Northern Greece is paving the way for its users and for others who can and have learned from its innovative use of technology and exciting programs.” The Veria Library received the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2010 Access to Learning Award.

The Veria Central Public Library will use its award to expand its network of libraries, upgrade its IT infrastructure, replicate the Magic Boxes concept throughout the main building of the library and at all new branches, and extend its impact beyond the region through websites and social networking.