Tag Archives: Reading

Reflecting back and Thinking Forward

Join IFLA Public Libraries and Literacy Reading Sections for our Reflecting Back and Tinking Forward Mid-term Seminar from 12-14 April 2021.  We look at how public libraries have responded to COVID and how the lessons learnt will impact the future. We will also explore some of the great initiatives around reading and literacy that have emerged during this time and how we can expand on this. There will also be an opportunity to ‘meet’ the world’s Children’s Laureates/Ambassadors and hear of their vision for the future.

The exciting program is listed below.

All times listed in Amsterdam Time 

April 12, 2021 – 9:30 – 10:30: Meet the Children’s Laureates/Ambassadors
April 13, 2021 – 10:00 – 11.30: The future of libraries in a post Covid world
April 13, 2021 – 12:00 – 13.30: Literacy and Reading during COVID
April 13, 2021 – 19:00 – 20:30: Public Library innovations in COVID (Portuguese)
April 14, 2021 – 10:00 – 11.30: Public Library innovations in COVID April 14, 2021 – 12:00 – 13.30: Reading together during a pandemic
April 15, 2021 – TBD: Public Libraries Business Meeting

Register for the program here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pIoOA9c_T56egeBkYeMjRw

Our speakers include:

Panel: The Future of Libraries in a post Covid world

Mr Gene Tan, Assistant Chief Executive, National Library of Singapore https://www.linkedin.com/in/gene-tan-32316b63/?originalSubdomain=sg


Gene Tan is an Executive and Creative Director who has helmed 3 national projects working at the highest level of government & across people and private sectors – Singapore’s Bicentennial, SG50 Capstone Exhibition The Future of Us and the Singapore Memory Project. Top librarian who was Director of the National Library and President of the Library Association.


Ms Liz Jolly, Chief Librarian, British Library.

Liz Jolly has been Chief Librarian at the British Library since September 2018. She is responsible for teams delivering core activities such as collection development; services for researchers, learners, businesses and entrepreneurs; research strategy and digital scholarship; an extensive cultural programme of exhibitions, events, and the Library’s online presence.  Liz has over twenty years’ experience in a variety of institutions in the university sector, most recently as Director of Student and Library Services at Teesside University. An Honorary Professor at Teesside, Liz is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow both of the CILIP and the RSA. She was Chair of SCONUL, the UK university library directors’ group, from 2014-16 and is a member of the Board of Governors at the University of Portsmouth. Liz is a Vice Chair of the SCONUL Content Strategy Group and a member of the Editorial Board of the New Review of Academic Librarianship.


Ms Christine McKenzie

Christine is the President of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) from 2019 to 2021, leading the library field under the theme “Let’s work together”.[4][5] Her mandate takes the results of projects as the IFLA Global Vision where librarians around the world created a bottom – up strategy[6] where one of the highlights and opportunities are related to focus on our communities and work more collaborative and develop strong partnerships.


Margaret Allen, State Librarian, State Library of Western Australia, Chair Public Libraries Section Committee. ALIA President 2011, ALIA Fellowship 2014, Public Service Medal 2018

Through her role as CEO of the State Library of Western Australia, Under Margaret’s leadership the State Library works in partnership with Aboriginal people through the Storylines Project to ‘build and maintain an online database of digitised heritage material from the library’s collections relating to Aboriginal history’ and through its Aboriginal Family History project offers training in information literacy, and research skills to support clients with family history research.

Margaret a long term contributor to IFLA, was engaged in the 2012 IFLA International Leaders Programme. As Chair of the Australian Libraries Copyright Committee (ALCC) and a member of the Australian Digital Alliance (ADA) Board of Directors Margaret is an active participant in the Australian copyright reform debates committed to copyright reform that enables fair access. Margaret was ALIA President for the 2011-2012 term of office. She represented libraries on the government’s Book Industry Collaborative Council and she is a valued member of the ALIA ebooks and elending Reference Group, presenting at think tanks across Australia during 2013.


Panel Facilitator: Erik Boekesteijn

Erik Boekesteijn is a senior advisor at National Library of the Netherlands as well as a facilitator and consultant for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions and a SLIS Fellow. Boekesteijn got his start in the Netherlands’ DOK Library in Delft, recognized as one of the most innovative public libraries in the world.


We look forward to seeing you all at our virtual catch up.

Register Here: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_pIoOA9c_T56egeBkYeMjRw


Keeping Older Adults in Singapore Digitally Engaged Amidst Covid-19

Undeniably, COVID-19 has profoundly changed life as we know it. The global pandemic has had a far-reaching impact on the way we live, work, and play, and everyone, including libraries, has had to adjust to a “new normal” at an alarming pace. In Singapore, the Circuit Breaker was implemented in April to contain the spread of the coronavirus and residents, especially the elderly were advised to stay at home. This meant that all non-essential workplaces including our public libraries were closed for almost two months. This unexpected situation meant that we had to promptly rethink our operations and current model of programme delivery for older adults and devise new ways to keep them meaningfully engaged at home. Before, our programming was mostly focused on onsite activities – many of which were designed with the aim of bridging the digital divide among older adults in mind.

Some examples include our partnerships with other organisations to introduce programmes that promote basic digital literacy through one-on-one assistance from volunteers, classroom training, and learning communities. For older adults who were ready to take their digital skills to the next level, we also rolled out hands-on workshops that tackled more complex topics, such as coding, app development and movie making. This helped to fuel their creativity and sustain their interest in the digital sphere.

While these digital readiness initiatives were already in place, the COVID-19 situation established the need to scale them up and deliver them in new ways. Bearing in mind that everyone has varying interests and familiarity with technology – it was crucial to curate programmes that could cater to most, if not all. Another key consideration was that certain types of programmes would not translate well onto an online platform: this included workshops with a heavy emphasis on hands-on activities, or those that required one-to-one guidance from the instructor. Programme duration was another factor: information had to be delivered in bite-sized chunks due to the possibility of “Zoom fatigue”.

Engaging Older Adults Through Online Programming

From the onset, we knew that we wanted to curate a suite of fun, exciting, and engaging programmes for older adults, involving programme concepts we had never done before. Some environmental scans and brainstorming sessions later, we birthed the #StayHome series, our very first online series for older adults. The #StayHome programme series comprise Read, Learn, and Play editions, and featured book recommendations, creative workshops, and games that covered a wide range of topics suitable for those aged 50 and above. These programmes were conducted by librarians or volunteer facilitators. On top of content creation, we supplemented all our virtual programmes with a curated list of eBooks and electronic resources that participants would find useful for continuing their learning in that particular domain. Here is more about the different editions:

 #StayHomeAndRead: Spotlights eBooks and encourages the love of reading. Sessions featuring non-fiction titles were complemented with hands-on activities (derived from the eBooks) to make reading and learning fun and interactive.

Past topics: Exploring the Fantasy Genre, PressReader App, Forest Bathing, K-pop

 #StayHomeAndLearn: Covers a wide range of topics so older adults can learn and stay relevant and connected to trends.

Past topics: Digital Housekeeping, Social Media, Coding, App Development

#StayHomeAndPlay: Engages older adults through cognitive games to improve their mental well-being.

Past topics: Print-to-Screen Trivia, Bingo, Word Scrambles

Despite having no prior experience with online programming, our enthusiastic volunteer programme facilitators were raring to explore the possibility of converting their learning communities to online meetups. Their willingness to step up to the challenge and their efforts spent tweaking their respective programme concepts successfully brought four of our volunteer-run learning communities to the virtual platform. The virtual approach was adopted for our major events too, namely the Time of Your Life Celebration in October, which is an annual celebration of older adults in conjunction with the International Day of Older Persons. This year’s event was held in collaboration with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), and went fully online with a holistic spread of enriching programmes. This involved local and overseas industry experts deliberating on pertinent issues in the field of gerontology, which sought to inspire older adults to share about what sparked joy and created meaning in their lives.

Getting Older Adults Digitally Ready

Although the social distancing measures have affected all of us, it is safe to assume an uneven impact on the age groups when it comes to digital-readiness. While the younger generation would find it easier to cope with the situation because of their tech-savviness, for the older generation, who are less familiar with technology and often rely on face-to-face communication and in-store purchases, this meant a dramatic change in their lifestyle. Hence, there was an urgent need to get them digitally ready and equipped with the skills required for the new normal, such as video conferencing with their loved ones, ordering food and grocery deliveries, using electronic payment, and discerning fake news.

This was where the Virtual Digital Clinic (VDC), a collaboration with Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), came in. Seniors could join a VDC from the comfort of their own home and get their tech-related enquiries answered by a friendly volunteer during 20-minute consultation session. VDCs are held weekly and are available in our four official languages – English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil, to make it accessible to all.

Promoting the Joy of Reading eBooks

For book lovers who were unable to get their regular printed reading materials from our libraries, we curated a monthly list of recommended eReads on a range of topics, such as Coming of (Old) Age Fiction, Mental Wellness, and Indoor Exercises. These lists were sent out in the form of Electronic Direct Mailers (EDMs) to our mailing list subscribers, members of our various book clubs and learning communities, as well as strategic partners who could share these EDMs with other older adults beyond our usual reach. This monthly mailer also served as a good opportunity to encourage older adults to browse our digital collections in the safety and comfort of their own home. Along the same vein, our quarterly publication, the Time of Your Life: Good Reads for the 50+ magazine is also available for download from our corporate website1. Written by librarians, this lifestyle magazine features articles on topics ranging from technology to positive ageing, serving as a resource to help older adults keep up with trends.


1 Time of Your Life: Good Reads for the 50+ (digital copy):


Though making the digital leap might seem like a huge hurdle, we encouraged older adults to take the first step with our suite of digital readiness initiatives such as the VDCs. The more tech-savvy were kept meaningfully engaged with our #StayHome programme series and curated eReads EDMs. Furthermore, we held Zoom tutorials for the public, where we supported our volunteer programme facilitators by guiding them on how to use Zoom prior to their sessions to build their confidence in conducting programmes on the virtual platform.

The world has hit the big reset button and we took this opportunity to review our offerings for older adults at the libraries. Libraries around the world face the same challenge of staying relevant, and evidently, this pandemic has only underscored the important role that libraries play – beyond just physical spaces where people borrow books and attend programmes, libraries play a vital role as learning concierges that enable and empower people with (digital) tools and skills to help them navigate the sea of information and the world beyond.


Raneetha Rajaratnam,  Director, Public Libraries Singapore


Bookstart Sweden

Bookstart Sweden

If you are going to do something to reduce differences in living conditions and health – read to your children! (Sir Michael Marmot epidemiologist and public health researcher at the conference Make Gothenburg Equal 2014)

The words of Sir Michael Marmot, summarize the vital importance of giving children a good start in life. That one of our most important tasks as a public library is to reach out and meet children and families. To give children a rich language, love for words, and to bring reading to life. It is especially important to prioritize and make a difference for vulnerable children and families as well as families with special needs. To create the conditions in society for all children to develop a language that is as good as possible according to their conditions, and which makes it possible to develop as individuals with the ability to actively participate in society.

Bookstart – more than just a book gift!

 In Sweden, we have had a government initiative since 2016 ”The whole of Sweden reads with the children”, where Bookstart is an early and important contribution. Bookstart Sweden’s aim is to strengthen young children’s (0–3 years) language and reading development, Getting parents and professionals discover that reading, talking, singing, and playing are important parts of the child’s continued development. Strengthen parents but also the whole family in their significant role for the child’s reading and writing development. The bookstart teams therefore have a family-centered inclusive way of working, where the child and the family’s language and needs are important. The meeting with the child and the family and the shared reading experience produce effects and ”aha experiences”. This is how a book starter expresses the wow effect; “We visited a family the second time where the dad was home too. He said to us: when you first came I thought you were nuts, you can’t read books for a six-months-old child. Now we have fun, o my God we are reading books, I’m so glad you told me.”

Bookstart is public library-driven, but in close collaboration with child health care, preschool, family centers, speech therapy, open preschools and others meeting young children. Different professions, but all with a joint assignment on young children’s language development. It is important to work together on the assignment.

To bookstart is to dare!

 ”Bookstart has changed my way of being a librarian!” A quote from a conversation about the start-up role. Daring to leave one’s comfort zone. Meeting families based on their needs. Sharing reading experiences outside the safe world of the library. To inspire others who meet children to get ”the reading infection”. To give hope to families in need of support. To challenge and want to develop library activities. Gaining insights such as Library Manager Britt-Inger Roos in Strömsund; “You almost turn dizzy when you realize  the visits really can make a difference to a person”

Short facts about Bok start Sweden:

 2014–2017: Five pilots, inspired by Bookstart England and Denmark. All Bookstart pilots tested home visits, at 6, 12 and 18 months age of the children. Mainly in socioeconomically weak areas of cities. Region Västernorrland had asylum seekers / new arrivals as target group and Region Jämtland Härjedalen tested Bookstart in smaller municipalities and sparsely populated areas.

2017-2020: Government assignment. Bookstart is now in an exploratory phase. Home visits and various other methods are tested based on local and regional conditions and needs. During the period: 28 book launch projects and 30 networks. Libraries can apply for projects or language network grants from the Swedish Arts Council. We work actively to increase, and disseminate, knowledge of young children’s language and reading development through fact sheets, articles, films and knowledge packages (multilingualism, national minorities, children’s language development and reading). Materials are free to download at bokstart.se.

Most important of all is that we can all give children a good start in life – READ!

If you want to know more about Bookstart in Sweden, contact:

Anna Hällgren, administrator, Bookstart Sweden, Swedish Arts Council


Reading for small children, 4 films in 5 languages: English, Somali, Arabic, Persian and Swedish:


Children’s languages, fact sheets of different ages in 25 different languages. Free to download: https://www.bokstart.se/ombokstart/artiklar/2018/informationsmaterial/

That’s some difference – read!


Photos: Susanne Kronholm


Public Libraries Play an Essential role in Literacy and Reading outcomes

IFLA has recently published the IFLA Toolkit for Library Engagement in Literacy and Reading Strategies to help library associations, institutions and individual library and information workers to advocate for libraries’ role in literacy and reading in relevant government strategy documents.  In Victoria, Australia a collaboration between State Library of Victoria and Public Libraries Victoria also developed a strategic framework Reading and Literacy for all 2015-2018 that drove a substantial body of work across all Victorian Public Libraries to improve capability and deliver of early years literacy and adult literacy services. This first framework was a major collaborative effort that was a culmination of wide and deep conversation across the library sector and involved other stakeholders who deliver literacy services and included the Department of Education and Training.  This ensured that there was a strong sense of ownership and commitment from all libraries across Victoria to the body of work that came from that original framework.

Initiatives and outcomes from this original framework included:

  • Development of quality indicators for early years literacy programs
  • Multiple assessments of each library service against the early years literacy programs indicators
  • Training and a toolkit for staff delivering early years literacy programs to help lift the standard and make it consistent across the state Let’s Read!
  • Professional development to encourage and support public libraries to be more active in delivering adult literacy initiatives
  • A best practice guide for adult literacy services which can be used as an advocacy document setting out the roles and achievements of public libraries in this area.
  • The Adult Literacy Innovation Program, providing grants to individual library services over three years to deliver innovative partnership programs in the adult literacy space. Examples include Moreland’s Word Play family literacy initiative and Yarra Plenty Regional Library’s pilot of the Volunteer-led literacy program for new migrants and refugees.

The strategic outcome from this body of work across the State of Victoria was the building of real evidence establishing libraries as essential for delivering literacy and language outcomes for adults, families and children.  The report on this major body of work can be found here.

However, Victorian libraries’ work in literacy is not at an end.  High levels of literacy are required for many of the complex jobs that are developing in this new digital economy as significant change in people’s work continues at a fast pace.

State Library of Victoria and Public Libraries Victoria have continued their collaboration and developed a new revised Reading and Literacy for all: A strategic framework for Victorian Public Libraries 2019- 2023 to inform the next four years of collaborative endeavour for Public Libraries across the state of Victoria.

These strategic documents are important advocacy tools to ensure that literacy, reading and libraries remain on the government agenda and Victorian Libraries in Australia are a great example of how to use this strategic work to amplify this message.

The IFLA Public Libraries Section is also highlighting reading in the satellite conference to be held in Oxford, United Kingdom on 12th and 13th August 2020.  Partnering with the IFLA Literacy and Reading Section, IFLA Metropolitan Libraries Section and IFLA Libraries for Children and Young People we will be presenting Reading Journeys, exploring personal reading choices for adults and children, the learning to read journey, the research into influences that make a difference to our reading journeys and the creative journey from the perspective of authors.  So reading and literacy remains a major focus for IFLA in the coming year.  Keep watching this space for more information in the coming months and start planning to attend!

Jane Cowell, Chief Executive Officer, Yarra Plenty Regional Library, Australia




Football Makes Reading Fun

By Guest Blogger,
Eric Boekesteijn

Score a book! is a reading project for primary school pupils aged 8-10. Encouraged by players from Dutch professional teams, the children read as many books as they can during a period. A formula that catches on.

‘Jolanda, come see this!’ It is Saturday morning and when entering the Library Veendam I am called over by Henk, or as I know him better: Mr. Henk. Henk works at a primary school nearby. He buzzes with energy and is even livelier than a class of thirty children. Today, as ever, he is beaming from ear to ear. I walk over to him and look in the direction he is pointing. At the reception desk I see my colleague Henny. Next to her is a boy with his father. ‘This is Kevin’, Henk tells me enthusiastically, ‘a pupil of mine. Poor reader. He joined the library today. Thanks to Score a Book! How cool is that?’

This week, we kicked-off Score a Book! again. Mr. Henk’s class has been participating since the beginning in 2012. A few days earlier, Henk had already sent me some pictures through WhatsApp. These pictures showed his pupils ‘scoring’ books. The children were lying down all over the classroom floor. Yes, lying down because with Mr. Henk you are allowed to read in the strangest places.

An hour later I am talking to my colleague Henny, trying to tell her about Mr. Henk and the boy from his class. I am interrupted immediately. ‘Kevin! Yes, he joined the library and picked out some books right away.’ Henny’s eyes light up. ‘I asked him what he liked. ‘Football’ was his answer, but he was not so keen on reading. Do you know what I told him? ‘Ask me if I like reading?’’ Kevin has asked Henny. ‘‘No’, she had said, ‘I don’t like reading the way most people do’’. Kevin and his father were surprised. How can you work in a library then? Anyone who knows Henny, knows about her love for particular books. Like no one else, she knows how to find those children’s books that are just slightly different and therefore very popular with children. “I then selected a few books with Kevin’, Henny continues, ‘Afterwards, I asked his father what he liked.’ ‘I don’t like reading’, Kevin’s father responded. ‘That’s not what I asked’, Henny said ‘I asked you what you liked’. After some hesitation he answered that he liked to cook. ‘Then I also gave them an Italian children’s cookbook. Now they can cook together!’

Thanks to the extraordinary effort made by people like Mr. Henk and my wonderful colleague Henny, as a library, we are able to make children experience the delight of reading. Because, as Mr. Henk wrote to the parents of his pupils: ‘He who reads, conquers the world!’
Score a Book! 2018

You can score anywhere! With this in mind, the Library in association with the Dutch Premier League is carrying out a unique reading project for pupils aged 8-10: Score a Book! In six regions across the Netherlands, from February until April, 11,000 pupils will be reading (‘scoring’) as many books as they can for nine weeks. The children are encouraged through video messages by players from famous soccer clubs such as AZ, FC Groningen, Go Ahead Eagles, Heracles Almelo, NEC, and Willem II. Score a Book! will be expanded to more regions in the Netherlands over the coming years.

Score a Book! doesn’t just happen in the classroom. In 2018, the libraries will also be inviting families to ‘score’ books, newspapers, and magazines at home as well. The whole family can join in. For this, the libraries are organizing many fun (football) activities.

More information: Jolanda Robben, coordinator Score a Book! at Biblionet Groningen.
E-mail: j.robben@biblionetgroningen.nl
Website: www.scooreenboek.nl

Wide open: Read and read wide open/De Bat a Bat: Llegir i Llegir-se


Authors: Carla Canongia  and Marta Puig ( Xarxa de Biblioteques Municipals.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bibliotequesXBM/
Twitter: @bibliotequesxbm

Wide open: Read and read is a new resource designed to facilitate the work with young people from 12 to 16 years through picture books; a universe where art, literature and philosophy go hand in hand.

The DNA of the project are young people, reading, library, activities, participation, dialogue, listening, street art, thought, literature, picture books, experience, innovation.
The resource consists of 3 Bats (Author, Subject and Picture Books).

Bat01: that which is not seen (open what is to do, to think and to continue).
Bat02: what you say and do not say (all playing with words and pictures, we give meaning to the outside world and in yourself).
Bat03: the struggle (the struggle between oneself and the world).

The objectives of the project are:

  • To discover the picture books as an element of promotion and discovery of new forms of reading and writing
  • To develop the entrepreneurial spirit, participation, critical thinking in young people
  • To promote strategies of work/promotion focused on direct participation, dialogue and listening
  • To promote a community of practice focused on exploring new strategies, tools and methods aimed at young audiences.

Mon Mas, creator of the resource, made us think about what it is that makes us happy; What is the spark that makes us get up each day … Mon Mas made us see, with the dynamics in which we see immersed, as illustrated albums can be the perfect excuse to talk about life, death, family, what we are concerned, we are happy … and of that restless and exciting youngsters of our libraries!

In 2017, 12 libraries will be able to put into practice with the young of its municipalities the three experiences, the three Bates, created for this first year of the project. Each library participating in the project will receive a Bat per quarter, this Bat will consist of a box with the materials and albums that are necessary to carry out the session. The ideal is between 15 and 20 adolescents per session.


Score a Book!







Guest Blogger: Jolanda Robben, coordinator Score a Book!, Biblionet Groningen

Learning to read well is of great importance to growing children. It helps even more when they enjoy reading. With this in mind, Biblionet Groningen and the FC Groningen Foundation are performing the Score a Book! project: a unique reading project for primary school pupils aged 7 to 9. Score a Book! combines reading with football, because you can score anywhere!

With Score a Book! pupils are challenged in a playful way to read as many books as they can in class in ten weeks. The pupils are cheered on by a professional football player using videos. For every book they have read, the pupils stick a ‘ball’ (sticker) on a poster. In this way we know of every class how many books they read during the project. Score a Book! is concluded with a sporting party at which the pupils can score on the football pitch.


It is known that boys lag behind girls in the area of reading. By connecting a reading project to football, the boys are particularly engaged. Since 2016, the project has been expanded with a home edition. The pupils encourage their parents and other family members to read extra at home as well.

Score a Book! has grown in six years’ time to become one of the most successful reading projects in the north of the Netherlands. In 2016, in the province of Groningen 6665 pupils participated. The final score was impressive: the pupils read a total of no less than 53,721 books.


The success of Score a Book! has not gone unnoticed in the rest of the Netherlands. At the moment, Biblionet Groningen is working with other libraries on a national rollout.

The Dutch Premier League clubs PSV Eindhoven, Heracles Almelo and Go Ahead Eagles have already confirmed they would like to participate in Score a Book!.

And it does not stop there. In October 2016, the organisation of the Dutch Premier League signed a pledge, in which the 18 Premier League clubs promise to undertake efforts to fight low literacy and to promote reading by means of projects such as Score a Book!. This promise is an important step in the national roll-out of this sporting project.


Want to know more? Please contact Jolanda Robben:


Facebook www.facebook.com/scooreenboek
Twitter www.twitter.com/scooreenboek
Website www.scooreenboek.nl