Author Archives: janewee

Swedish IFLA-active from LSN-section rewarded national prize

Myself and Anette Mjöberg, both in Public Libraries Section, are members of the jury of the Swedish national prize for librarian of the year, called Bengt Hjelmqvist Prize. The prize winner is rewarded for outstanding efforts in the public libraries area.

This year Heidi Carlsson Asplund was awarded the prize. She has for many years been very interested in, and worked with, accessibility issues nationally and internationally. She receives the prize for her dedicated efforts to develop and make available the library’s services, from refurbishing a youth library together with teens and regional work focusing on accessibility issues, to an international involvement in IFLA, where she is in the Standing Committee for the Library Services to People section with Special Needs. Heidi has also been noted for her efforts to engage the local community in the library work, for example: by involving local people in the program activities at Sjövik library branch. Heidi has used her great horse interest as a resource for developing new activities, such as the “ride-in library” idea.

Photo:Ingrid Kallstrom

Sanctuaries in the city: the public library as a safe space


Kuala Lumpur

Synopsis prepared by Corinne Hill, Public Libraries Section member.

Sponsored by Metropolitan Libraries and the Public Libraries Section, this program had the unenviable scheduling position next to IFLA’s Global Vision session. Nevertheless, Sanctuaries still drew a respectable crowd.

The session opened quite strongly with Derr Leonee Ariel’s “Public Libraries are safe and neutral spaces…when people aren’t in them!From Malvern Library in Melbourne, Australia, Ms. Ariel delivered a compelling presentation framed around the use of language, and why language matters. She is a lover of language, and evidence of this can be seen throughout her entire presentation. She spoke of how “the past informs practice and expectations today.” My favorite slide was when she compared “Safe and Sanctuary,” vs “Inclusive and Refuge.”

What I took away from this was that we build trust with our communities over time. While we have standards of behavior when working in public space there is the reality of what it is truly like to work in a public space—and it’s not a safe space. We strive to create inclusive experiences in an unpredictable world often with vulnerable populations not captured in census.

Ms. Ariel see’s our future as social justice in action—while we are not a political institution, our current political environment has made us one.

She is someone to watch as she has her pulse on our current predicaments. I encourage you to read her presentation in its entirety:

Walsh Benjamin followed with his “Public library and private space: Homeless queer youth navigating information access and identity in Toronto.” Mr. Benjamin examines the public library as an important space for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, two-spirit, and/or queer youth. As an academic librarian, he’s report stands at the intersection of public library services and library research—something not well represented in the literature and something for which he should receive accolades.

The first challenge to delivering services to this population is finding them –essentially, delivering services for those you cannot see. Homeless queer youth often hide their identity and such deception often leads to chronic and/or critical information poverty. Essentially, queer youth are seeking privacy in an Urban Hybrid Space as they cannot embrace their queerness in a public space.

The entire presentation is available here:

The discussion shifted to building design with Traci Engel Lesniski, Minneapolis, USA, “Welcome to All: Design’s Role in Creating an Inclusive, Safe, and Beloved Community Destination.” Ms. Engel spoke of the community’s resistance to the Central Library’s redesign identifying it as a “fancy homeless shelter and an irrelevant space for the rest of the population.” Ms. Lesniski’s architectural firm, MSR,  took this “homeless issue” as a design challenge recognizing the actual and perceived safetyissues. They incorporated onsite offices for social service providers, study rooms for consultations, computer table design that allowed for privacy and space for belongings of the homeless, and they created a 2nd controlled entry to the children’s suite. Essentially, MSR turned the library from a fear-based program to a home-based program, and opened in 2013 to community acclaim. The entire presentation is available here:

Libraries Without Borders, Paris, France presented “Libraries as vectors of integration for immigrants and refugees: access to information and education in the Ideas Box in France. With 68.5 million displaced individuals worldwide, libraries play an important role in integrating immigrants and refugees into host communities. The “Ideas Box” is a flexible, modular, mobile library that makes for an excellent outreach tool. Outreach to displaced individuals helps them to regain a sense of normalcy after trauma, and demonstrates that the library is a place to build hope again. Presentation not available.

Continuing the discussion of the public library as a safe space, “Public library as a safe place: principles and experiences of Brazilian Park Libraries in Rio de Janeiro,” looks at a public library as a space and place rather than as a service. Park Libraries in Rio de Janeiro are located in very poor and violent regions of the city. The purpose is to explore the social capital theory as it applies to public libraries. The entire presentation is available here:

The final presentation, “Library for the homeless: A case study of a Shelter House and a School for Homeless in Indonesia and Malaysia,” examined the impact of library materials and services at homeless shelters. The study found that sustainability is an issue both for materials and staff training. The entire presentation is available here:

What is Universal Design for Libraries

By Guest Blogger

Lo Claesson

Here is a short summary of the session “What is universal design for libraries? – A joint session by Library Services to People with Special Needs, Public Libraries and Library Services to Persons with Print Disabilities”:

The first speaker was Knut M. Nygaard, Director of Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille. He talked about different terminology, used for about the same concept as “universal design”. The aim of universal design is to simplify life for everybody. Target groups are everybody, regardless of age, size or ability. You can talk about universal design at threee levels: a strategic level (macro), technical solutions and standards (meso) and individual perspective (micro).

The next speaker was Anne Sieberns, German Institute for Human Rights. Her presentation was on Universal Design and Human Rights. There is a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD), which now (June 2018) is ratificated by 177 State Parties.
Then we heard about guidelines for universal design in Finnish libraries by Kirsi Ylänne, Celia Library Finland. The English translation of the guidelines is available (pdf) at . It is published on a Creative Commons  license and can be translated and adopted into other languages.

Then Mr Hiroshi Kawamura held an oral presentation on Universal Design an Print Disabilities – DAISY Technology and Accessible Multimedia. He stressad that universal design does not exclude assistent technology for those who need it. There is also an issue of accesibility for for example indigenous people. It´s a very complex matter.

We also got some best practices from the UK from Mark Freeman as Yarm Library, Chelmsford Library, Great Sankey and Ammanford Library. These libraries also include persons with autism or dementia in their design thinking.

Nancy Bolt from the section Library Services to People with Special Needs finished the session by summarazing what has been done in the section in recent years: Guidelines concerning people with Dyslexia, people experiencing homelessness and people who are deaf, hard of hearing and deaf/blind. They are planning to do guidelines concerning refugees and prisons as well. They are also suggesting how the IFLA conferences can be more accessible in the future. The on-going conference is not very accesible for people using wheel chairs.

Zagreb City Libraries won the librarians Oscar for the film on homeless people

Zagreb City Libraries’ short film  What do users say about library services for people experiencing homelessness was announced as the best film at the award ceremony of international competition A Corto di Libri. It also won a prize in the category of the best documentary film on libraries and librarians.

Prizes were awarded at the International Book Fair in Turin on Saturday the 12th of May 2018. The Award Jury comprised experts from the fields of cinematography and librarianship, and was headed by the Italian film critic Fabio Melelli. Authors of the film are librarians Marko Šikić and Sanja Bunić.

More information:

Children Services at Miyoshi Public Library

By Guest Blogger

Hitomi Takeuchi

I visited the Miyoshi Public Library in Miyoshi Town, located in northwest of Tokyo, 30 kilometer from Tokyo Central, about one hour by train. The population is about 38,000. The Library is run by the Miyoshi Local Town Government. The circulation per capita of Miyoshi Public Library is 11.20 books per a user a year, compared to the average number of Japanese public library of 5.5.  And the library has maintained its top rank in the past sixteen years.

The reason for my  visit to the library is because it provides very good childrens services. The first is the Book Start Service.  The second one is Book Club Service for the elementary level children. And the third one is that library provides good support and have good relationship to the school libraries.  There are eight schools, five elementary schools and tree junior high schools run by the Miyoshi local Town Government.  

The head Librarian, Tomoko Shirota, a childrens service professional, and she especially emphasizes the childrens services. She said that during the child period is very valuable time to child gets used to read.


Book Start Service & Book Start Plus Service

In Miyoshi Public Library, the Book Start Service is targeted at babies four months and beyond.  The professional childrens librarian reads the picture book with parent and baby. And after the reading hour, the baby will be presented a picture book from the library. You can see it in the picture above that when Ms Tomoko Shirota reads the picture book to the four months old baby, the baby seems very eager to look at the book and listen to the librarians reading voice.. The Librarian said that it is very important to read the picture book attractively for the baby because maybe it is the first time for the baby to look at the book and listen to the reading voice.  It is definitely important how baby feel about the book reading hour. The librarian tries to make the reading hour attractive and interesting because this is the first experience for not only the four months baby but also for the parent to listen to the storytelling. Through reading the picture book, almost all baby have good reactions like smiling and speaking aloud.  Parent understands that the baby who is not speaking language yet, can understand the picture book through the babys reaction and feeling, The librarian said that the Book Start Service makes the problem of child abuse in Miyoshi Town decrease because through the reading the picture book the parent can better communicate to their baby.

When the baby is two years old, the baby have the tooth examination by the doctor.  At that time it is also the time of Book Start Plus Service.  Again the baby and parent have the picture book reading time together and are presented with a picture book which they will enjoy.

Book Club Services

The Miyoshi Public Library organizes two Book Clubs for boys and girls.  They are two groups by their age, one club for the first and second grades in elementary school.  The name of the club is Kamii Club. Kamii comes from a hero’s name in the most popular Japanese children’s book;  the second club is for children from the third to sixth grades, and is named Elmer Club.  Its name comes from the book titled My father’s Dragon written by Ruth Stiles Gannett.  The activities of the clubs are storytelling, book talk and reading from a selected book list.  The activities run every fourth Saturday of the month.

School Libraries

There are eight schools in Miyoshi Town.  Every school has the a school library and school librarians.  School librarians try to make children familiar with reading books.  They provide the booklist which is the books reading during elementary years.  So after six years, students finished reading all the books on the book list.  The Miyoshi Public Library and eight school libraries have not only the computer network but also the human relationship network.

The Miyoshi Book Reading Declaration

The Miyoshi Public Library declared that Miyoshi Town is the town that “Love Reading and Promote lifelong reading all over the Town” in April 2016.  Ms Hideko Nagano who is a famous writer of picture books is the illustrator of the promotional poster for this Reading Declaration, and Ms Hiromi Watanabe who live in the Miyoshi Town, designed it.  In the poster, it says that that the Library has decided that every 23rd  day of the month is “the Day to Love the Reading and a Reading Day”.

In Miyoshi Town, people from baby to senior love the reading and share the reading joy by reading together.  Through reading together people can have closer relationships. The reading makes people filled with love, dream and intelligence, and makes people to a happy and satisfied life.

In 2002 and 2014 the Library was awarded as the Library with superior children’s reading activities by the Ministry of Education of Japanese Government twice.

After deciding the Miyoshi Book Reading Declaration.

Four members of the Koshigaya City school library study group visited the Miyoshi Public Library. The second from the left is the Head Librarian of the Miyoshi Public Library, the first from the right is the author of this blog article.

The State of America’s Libraries

During this time of rapid social change, libraries of all types are providing welcoming spaces to an increasingly diverse population. The State of America’s Libraries 2018: A Report from the American Library Association, a special American Libraries digital supplement, affirms the invaluable role libraries and library workers play within their communities by leading efforts to transform lives through education and lifelong learning.

Edited by Kathy Rosa, director of the ALA Library and Research Center, The State of America’s Libraries 2018 features news and commentary on:

  • The top 10 most challenged books in 2017
  • Voter perceptions, use, and attitudes toward public libraries
  • Health and digital literacy initiatives
  • Sustainability as a library’s core value
  • School libraries and student outcomes
  • Three major trends affecting libraries
  • Library advocates and federal funding

Read this special issue online in our easy-to-use web browser format or download it as a PDF for offline reading.

Hello! From Japan

By Guest Blogger

Hitomi Takeuchi

When I came back to Japan from the Mid-term meeting of IFLA Public Libraries Section held in cold Den Helder, I was delighted to find Japan in real spring.  The cherry trees are now fully blooming and what a beautiful scenery they are creating. I have included some of the pictures of cherry blossom in Tokyo, which I took in Shinjuku Imperial Garden. There are full of cherry blossom and also full of people.

Scenes from Shinjuku Imperial Garden, Japan

National Diet Library

I would like to introduce my former working library named National Diet Library which is the National Library of Japan. When people look at the word Diet, they sometimes think it has something to do with food. No! No! It actually means a parliament or a Congress, like the Library of Congress in the US.

You can watch the DVD of National Diet Library by YouTube. Enjoy the DVD. If you have any question, don’t hesitate. Please ask me.