Monthly Archives: November 2013

IFLA 2014 Congress Section Call for Proposals


80th IFLA General Conference and Council: Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge

Lyon, France, August 16 – 22, 2014


Programme: Literacy, community and responsibility

The IFLA Literacy and Reading Section is seeking proposals for a programme to be held at the IFLA Conference in Lyon, France in August 2014.

Literacy has long been identified as a precursor to success in academic achievement and the workplace. Literacy problems have been directly linked to healthcare issues, workplace safety, equity and access to work, while poor literacy exerts a serious negative drag on the overall GDP per capita of a country. The correlation between poverty and literacy is irrefutable (PISA, OECD, Bailey, 2010). Society rewards individuals who have higher literacy levels, not explicitly, but it’s inherent in the system. While schools are responsible for literacy in children and young adults, there are many individuals who graduate from school with low levels of literacy, and others who are considered to be illiterate. There are many adults who are also alliterate or reluctant to read which can have serious repercussions for their health and well being as participative citizens. In the last twenty years there has also been a large-scale movement of people from around the globe, so most countries are experiencing high levels of multiculturalism which means that many communities are now comprised of multilingual groups who may literate, but not in the language of the country where they are now permanent residents. Libraries have always been based on equity and access to information. As institutions they are ideal places where individuals can establish a sense of community and a feeling of belonging. They are public spaces where both newcomers and native citizens have opportunities to gain literacy skills, forge community and national identity, and gain access to knowledge and skills.

Proposals chosen for presentation will examine how libraries have developed community programmes, partnerships or liaised with other community groups to develop literacy in the 16+ age group. They should be grounded in theory, research, and/or practical applications and where applicable should also consider how these themes link up with issues addressed in the IFLA Trends report. Building on the Section’s theme Literacy, community and responsibility, presentations will be considered which:

  • discuss research in adult literacy and the role libraries can play in developing community and identity;
  • concept papers which review the literature in this area;
  • practitioner programmes designed to cater for children and their parents;
  • practitioner programmes designed to develop adult literacy;
  • community programmes designed to assist new citizens to develop literacy and become part of the community; and
  • partnerships between libraries or libraries and other organizations to develop adult literacy.

Proposals are requested for as many as eight/ten tabletop presentations which will be given as part of round table workshops. After an opening plenary keynote address, audience members will rotate to three/four different fifteen-minute presentations of their choice.  Presenters will therefore be asked to repeat their presentation three times for three different sets of people. Since these projects will be presented in an informal, small group setting, speakers should plan some visual accompaniment such as a poster that can be set up on the table.  Presenters may also want to bring brochures or flyers to hand out.  People submitting successful proposals will be asked to write a brief paper summarizing their library programme or project for publication in the IFLA Proceedings.  All chosen presenters will be listed in the official Conference programme.

Proposals should provide the following information:

Name and institution of speaker(s)

Brief biographical information

Proposal title

Brief (300 to 500 word) description of project and presentation format

Language of presentation

Proposals should be sent to Barbara Combes (Secretary of the Literacy and Reading Section) at by Monday 20th January 2014. Please indicate “IFLA Proposal WLIC 2014” on the subject line. Finalists will be notified by 3rd March 2014 and will be expected to submit final versions of their papers in one of the official IFLA languages by 15th April 2014.

For more information, please contact Annie Everall (Chair of Literacy and Reading Section) at

Please note that it is the speakers’ responsibility to find funding for their participation in the conference.

Pleasure Reading Survey

The National Reading Campaign recently commissioned a study by Environics Research Group to gather benchmark data about the pleasure reading habits of Canadians. Based on a nationally representative sample of 1,001 Canadians, the survey results revealed a population of passionate readers still very engaged with traditional reading platforms, and a group of Canadians not reading for pleasure in any medium.

82% of Canadians read for pleasure as often or more often than they did last year. Books are the overwhelmingly preferred medium, with 70% of readers preferring them to magazines, newspapers, and blogs. While level of education is linked to the amount of reading done for pleasure, level of income is not. Those reading the most have family incomes of from $30,000 to under $50,000.

Although the percentage of Canadians reading for pleasure is high, 12% of Canadians reported reading for pleasure less than they did last year and 5% admitted to not reading for pleasure at all. These figures combine to reveal that one in five Canadians does not read for enjoyment or does so less than they used to.

The study additionally revealed that:

  • 49% have used library services in the past year
  • 45% of Canadians reported that their reading of electronic publications has increased in the past year
  • More men report an increase in reading e-publications
  • Library use is higher in urban centres

Past research has found that reading for pleasure is linked to better overall satisfaction with life, higher incomes, healthier relationships (lower divorce rates), and better mental health.

The National Reading Campaign hopes that these figures will draw attention to the need to bring the benefits of reading for pleasure to all Canadians.

Results of the survey can be read here: Environics – National Reading Campaign – Survey report.

Library of Congress Literacy Awards Event

The Library of Congress: imposing any day as it faces the Capitol. But especially impressive on November 4, 2013, when I entered its Jefferson Building to celebrate the literacy awards being recognized that day.

2013 is a special year for several reasons, but in particular, it is the year that the Library of Congress Literacy Awards were launched, through the generosity of David M Rubenstein: The Carlyle Group co-founder and major donor to the Library of Congress. The $50,000 American Prize honors a project implemented successfully to combat illiteracy. The $50,000 International Prize honors the work of an organization in a specific country or region. The $150,000 David M. Rubenstein Prizes honors a groundbreaking or sustain record of advancement of literacy by any entity worldwide. John Cole, Director of the Library of Congress Center for the Book,  coordinated this tremendous effort.

I was fortunate to be selected as a member of the Advisory Board for these awards, and spearheaded the American Prize selection committee. Along with Susan Hilbreth, Institute of Museum and Library Services Director, and Benita Somerfield, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning Governing Board Member, I culled the nearly two hundred applications for these three awards.  The rest of the advisory board narrowed the selection to a handful of projects from which Library of Congress Librarian Dr. James Billington chose the three winners. Being a member of the Advisory Board was itself a great honor; other members included Loriene Roy, Robert Wedgeworth, Lynda Bird Johnson Robb, Caroline Kennedy, David Baldacci, James Patterson, as well as other leaders: National Catholic Education Association former President Karen Ristau, Salvation Army USA Planning Coordinator Carol Seiler, Nemours BrightStart! Executive Director Laura Bailey, World Bank Senior Specialist Michael Trucano, National Library Board of Singapore Chief Executive Officer Elaine Ng, Author Maryanne Wolf, Harvard Language and Literacy Program Director Pamela Mason, former Literacy Network of Greater LA Chair Steven Koltai, Scholastic CEO Richard Robinson, Candlewick Press President Karen Lotz, and Honorary Chair Laura Bush.

On the morning of November 4, the award winners and semi-finalists, along with the advisory board and Library of Congress representatives , met to discuss the lessons learned from this first year. As one of three panelists, I talked about the need for more publicity and leveraging of these significant awards and projects. After a lovely lunch, David Baldacci spoke in the Coolidge Auditorium about literacy needs and his efforts (including providing books in food banks to nourish the soul). The three prizes were presented: the American Prize for 826 National (a storefront program that focuses on writing workshops), the International Prize for India’s PlanetRead (which uses Bollywood songs with closed captioning to motivate reading), and the Rubenstein Prize for Reach Out and Read (which encourages early childhood reading through pediatrician-parent relationships). The winners’ presentations were each uniquely inspiring. James Patterson provided the finale with a heartwarming talk about reading. Attendees then toured the building, and enjoyed a sumptuous dinner in the library great hall.

The advisory board met on the 5th as well to discuss future directions and logistics. 2014 plans to be just as productive as this year. It should be noted that another valuable result of the process was the production of a booklist on best practices, which was made public at the celebration. The booklet will be available for downloading in the near future.

I am proud of both the process and the products, and learned much from my estimable colleagues. I will be conducting research on the applications to discern patterns of success, which can be leveraged by literacy initiatives.

Dr. Lesley Farmer, California State University Long Beach

international copyright issues

Ahead of the plenary meeting of Licences for Europe that will be held this afternoon in Brussels, EBLIDA calls on the European Commission to open in-depth discussions on copyright reform as the Licences for Europe process fails to address key concerns of libraries and their users.

Please find the full Press Release issued November 13, 2013, at this link:

UK literacy survey

The UK National Literacy Trust’s 2012 report:  Children’s and Young People’s Reading Today.  Findings from the 2011 National Literacy is available at

Also, by filling in the form on the attached link  you can receive a copy of the UK National Literacy Trust’s 2012 annual literacy survey on reading enjoyment, reading behavior outside class and reading attitudes.

Details about the Accelerated Reader Programme of the UK National Literacy Trust are found at  This programme helps teachers, librarians, pupils and parents to find appropriate books for young readers.