IFLA conference report

Please find below a report from ALADIN member Heike vom Orde (IZI Documentation Centre, Germany) on her recent participation at IFLA 2012, the World Library and Information Congress that took place in Helsinki in August 2012.


During my stay in Helsinki I attended the IFLA off-site event at Sello Library in Espoo on August 15, 2012: “Surprising Library! — Public Libraries, Libraries for Children and Young Adults and School Libraries and Resource Centers”. This session was part of the IFLA Annual Conference joint session for Public Libraries, Libraries for Children and Young Adults and School Libraries and Resource Centres. Papers and Case studies from Finland, USA, Denmark, Germany, Canada and the Congo Democratic Republic were presented at the “surprising” location of Sello Library, a very modern library located in a shopping center near Helsinki. In my report I will focus on the four presentations that I was most impressed with; you can find all presentations online at: http://conference.ifla.org/ifla78/session-160


The event started with a speech on Journey into imagination – a glimpse of the history of Finnish children’s literature. According to the presenters Finnish children’s literature lives on the cutting edge of time. Especially youth fiction touches on the social pain points sharply and accurately as issues are often raised in children’s literature much earlier than in adult fiction. When reading children’s literature, adult readers learn at the same time about the state of society. The presentation ended with the statement: “Read children’s books and you’ll know what kind of a world you live in. Wings of imagination will come along as a freebie.”


Jane Kenney Myers, President of the Lubuto Library Project (LLP), gave in her presentation Outreach to vulnerable youth in Africa through partnerships for innovative programming: The Lubuto Library Project insight into her innovative international development organization. The LLP mission is to create opportunities for equitable education and poverty reduction through model library services housed in indigenously styled buildings in Zambia. These houses provide not only safe havens, but also literacy skills and opportunities for educational growth. The project aims at sub-Saharan Africa’s street children, orphans and other vulnerable and out-of-school children by building and stocking open-access libraries, hosted and staffed by community-based organizations.  LLP also connects North American and European volunteers and students with their African peers through community services. LLP is a professional organization whose programs – rooted in local communities and guided by prominent Zambians – are according to Mrs Myers important and unique in Africa.


Susanne Brandt from Germany presented a talk on Blended living and learning in children’s libraries as places of virtual, social, sensual, esthetic and creative experiences – including practical examples from Germany. She presented a vision of librarianship for young people as a concept of “blended living and learning”: Special programs with experiences in the nature, artistic impressions, conversation or story telling in dialogue with different methods characterize the library as a meeting place with virtual, sensory, social and esthetic aspects. From this perspective libraries are able to strengthen their independent position and open their rooms for “blended living” to support the orientation and sensibility of young people in the virtual and real world.


Finally, Stéphhane Legault from Canada presented the incredible success story of the Club des aventuriers du livre, an amazing Summer Reading Club that was established in 1995 by Lanaudière Public Libraries. The dynamic and unique summer reading club is for children from six to fourteen years old. Since 1995, more than 85 000 children have read more than a million books. The reading club aims to promote academic achievement during the holidays, especially for boys.


The session in Espoo was very well attended and was inspiring for information professionals who are looking for innovative strategies to reach their target group and to support literacy skills.


Heike vom Orde
Leitung Dokumentation / Head of Documentation


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