Friday, August 14, 2009

Archived posts: IFLA 2008, day 3

Session title: The Global Literacy and Reading Fair: sharing good library practices in support of the United Nations Literacy Decade 2003-2012
This half-day session was organized differently than other sessions: it was fairly participatory, with display tables set up in half of the room, where presenters at the session were able to display materials and share experiences/discuss projects during the lengthy breaks between speakers. Also, beautiful children’s books with African themes were for sale, and numerous flyers, posters and bookmarks were given out for free.

1. All about IBBY—and what about children in crisis and books? With PATSY ALDANA (IBBY, Toronto, Canada)
Patsy outlined the basic premise of IBBY (the founder, Jella Lepman, believed that books could build bridges of understanding and peace between people: she saw German children she after WW2 who needed not only food, medicine, clothes or shelter, but also books). Lepman thus created IBBY as an international organization that would bring children together by means of books. IBBY believes that every child has the right to become a reader. IBBY has seventy-two national sections; the newest ones are in Haiti, Guatemala, Zambia and Zimbabwe. IBBY has many projects on the go, including: the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award, the IBBY Honour List, the Documentation Centre of Books for Young People with Disabilities, and the International Children’s Book Day. Patsy also talked about the structure of the publishing world, and spoke about a new IBBY project that is hoping to address imbalances in the publishing world (towards books in local languages for poorer countries). This project, called the IBBY-Yamada Fund, recently began a five-year programme of workshops in publishing, writing, illustrating, and librarianship in countries that have little or no local publishing. The workshops are happening in Guatemala, Mongolia, Rwanda, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Palestine, South Africa, Uganda, Uruguay, Madagascar, Bolivia. IBBY is also setting up 12 mobile libraries in Nepal and has begun the IBBY Fund for Children in Crisis, focusing on books providing bibliotherapy for children in crisis (eg. After the tsunami). In Gaza, Palestine, IBBY is building two community children’s libraries and training two librarians in bibliotherapy. IBBY, in cooperation with the Canadian Organization for Development in Education (CODE) and CIDA (the Canadian foreign aid agency) and our national section in Iran, based at the Children’s Book Council, will be holding a meeting in Afghanistan in early 2009, focusing on how to move forward toward the creation of national publishing and local books in Afghanistan, how to build a network of school libraries and train school librarians in reading promotion, and how to reinforce and bring children’s materials into public libraries.

2. Donner le goût de lire en milieu défavorisé avec ANTOINETTE FALL CORREA (Bibliothèque-Lecture-Développement – BLD; CODE, Canada, Senegal)
The Bibliothèque- Lecture- Développement (BLD=Reading Development Library) is a non-profit organisation in Senegal, established by librarians, educators and sociologists to support the development of libraries; to develop a taste and desire for reading; to train library staff; and to foster local publishing and distribution. Antoinette spoke about BLD projects to stimulate reading in disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Senegal; specifically, she spoke about a reading club developed to improve poor language skills among children (French is the official language of the educational system). The reading club targets different ages: pre-school, primary or middle school children. For instance, with pre-school aged children, objectives included teaching the children to hold and use a book, and engaging in a story hour reading with the children. Antoinette explains how, after the first session of this type, “the children could not wait for the next week’s session but tried to go back to the library with the teacher; the most audacious made excuses to leave their class and run 20 metres further to go to the library to find ‘their’ book.” The children associated books with pleasure and were encouraged to read and go to the library. For another program, reaching the weakest students in the elementary classes to prevent drop out (notes Antoinette, “in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and in schools bulging with migrants from the rural areas, the class size is often from 60-90 students. The teachers cannot possibly look after all the students. Normally, they ignore the weakest and work more closely with those who will achieve the standards set by the Inspector General of Education. The ones left behind (and they are often girls) leave school because they are not comfortable because they can not read.”) After the first two or three sessions of this program, the coordinators observed a change in the children’s behaviour: they began to be more comfortable, leafing through books, spontaneously speaking up (even in French) without feeling the embarrassment of making mistakes, etc.

3. The potential of national reading campaigns: Experiences from Austria and the Netherlands in international perspective with MARIAN KOREN (Public Library Association, Research and International Affairs, The Netherlands) and GERALD LEITNER (The Austrian Public Library Association, Austria)
This presentation focused on national reading campaigns in The Netherlands (Nederland leest = The Netherlands Reads) and in Austria (Österreich liest, Treffpunkt Bibliohek = Austria Reads, Meeting Point Library). In both programs, the chosen book is widely distributed for free among library members via the libraries – not a loaning copy, but an actual free copy of the book is given when members present their library card. As usual, the campaigns also included events in libraries, TV appearances and endorsements by local celebrities. In both cases, interestingly, it is the national library associations that have taken the initiative for the campaign and the arrangements. Interesting notes: Austria has a very low level of literacy: In a PISA study carried out in 29 OECD countries, Austrian students’ reading skills scored 19th. Gerald commented that this leaves 20% of young Austrians vulnerable to radical political ideologies, because they are easily influenced by print media and don’t understand the written word well.
4. Time to Read and Estevan Area Literacy Group: results from two collaborative approaches to literacy with GREGORY SALMERS (Southeast Regional Library, Saskatchewan, Canada)
Discussed two literacy initiatives involving First Nations, public libraries and schools in Saskatchewan: Time to Read and the Estevan Area Literacy Group (a community development partnership of business, First Nations people, public libraries, early childhood educators, a day care, schools, and employment and immigration government agencies; see this. 30% of Saskatchewan residents have low literacy skills!

5. The Holiday Reading Adventure (HRA) Programme in Namibia with BERNADETTE H. MUKULU and E. R. MAKINZA (Ministry of Education, national Library of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia)
Presentation centred on a holiday reading program to encourage reading and target lower literacy rates in Namibia. Namibia is a member of the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ): a regional grouping of 14 Ministries of Education (Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Uganda, Seychelles, South-Africa, Swaziland Tanzania (Mainland), Tanzania (Zanzibar), Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe). A recent SACMEQ survey reported that Namibian grade six learners performed poorly in reading compared to other countries in the region. The Holiday Reading Adventure (HRA) originated as a result of the SACMEQ report (read more about HRA here). The IFLA presentation described the Namibian education system, the HRA program, and training provided for local teachers and librarians. Major obstacle encountered: not enough books in school libraries and lack of support from school principals.

Monday PM: I spent the afternoon (from 1-6 pm) volunteering. I was guiding people on the 2nd level of the conference centre. I had mostly directional questions, although I did have the odd interesting question: “Can you recommend a restaurant?,” “I met someone at a session – they’re from Halifax. Do you know them?,” etc.! Volunteering was a great opportunity to represent our country and my home province at IFLA! It also ended up being (partially because of my location), a great place to stand to network. I was in between 2 sets of escalators: everyone passed by at some point in the afternoon. I met colleagues, planned drinks and dinner dates, compared session notes & invited many people to the launch of the professional report I wrote with Barb. I actually ran out of business cards that afternoon!

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