FINLAND
Kirkkonummi library Digital skills for everyone

Kirkkonummi, which is situated close to Helsinki and near the second largest city in Finland, Espoo, will soon have a population of 40,000. The municipality has grown rapidly during the last decades and primarily active, young, working families have come to live here. The municipality is bilingual and one-fifth speaks Swedish as their native language.

Compared to the national average, the population’s level of education is high. This also puts demands on the library. The library is used extensively and it is assumed that it will also be in the forefront when it comes to development of digital services.

The most important objectives for Kirkkonummi’s library are to encourage children and adolescents to read and, at the same time, to introduce the use of new technology. Unique to the library is the close cooperation with schools in the municipality.

From ‘rhyme and nursery rhymes’ to master reader

With the project Rhyme and Nursery Rhymes, we wanted to introduce old nursery rhymes and singing games on the Internet in a new context. The library’s storyteller, known to some generations of children, has recorded traditional nursery rhymes and songs in Finnish and Swedish. The nursery rhymes are available on the library’s website. In the near future, we will also make animated folktales. The idea of the project is to enable very young children to come into contact with words, texts and books via the Internet.

Engaging in close cooperation with schools is an absolute requirement to encourage the development of children’s reading ability. The students in Kirkkonummi take part in many different reading campaigns organized by the library. The ‘Master Reader’ is intended for 11-12-year-olds and combines reading with computer use. Each student chooses a figure on the Internet and gives it a name. Then the students read books in seven different categories, such as hobby books Snacka om bananspark (“Talk about a kick with a curve”) and factual books Mig lurar du inte (“You can’t fool me”). For every book, the figures get new equipment, a Viking helmet, a heart or vampire teeth. When the students have read books in three genres, they become reading novices and once they read all seven, they are named Master Readers. The Master Reader involves playful motivation for reading and it is associated with children’s media world. The campaign has been received especially well by boys. It has also been suggested that the schools should compete with one another.

Book chat on YouTube

The newest addition involves twelve video book chats, which have been published on Youtube. The common denominator for the books is Kirkkonummi. The authors reside in the municipality, the book plots are set in Kirkkonummi and the books tell about the places in the area. For example, the books of Finlandia Junior winner Timo Parvela, Monika Fagerholm’s Den amerikanska flickan (“The American girl”) and Porkkala, a nearby village, are included. The ‘book chatters’, or presenters, are library employees and young people from the local youth theater. The amateur video association is responsible for production and technology. Book chat does not only introduce the books, but also our beautiful municipality.

We were able to succeed with high quality projects on our website, thanks to the innovative and artistic talents we have on our staff. The library also has a large network of skilled associates, lyricists, artists and actors.

Something for both youth and seniors alike

We have offered active guidance and media literacy to both older and younger library patrons. All of the students in the municipality are invited in at the age of ten and again at thirteen to learn to make searches with the library’s database.We also welcome classes brought in by teachers. The librarian and the teacher lead projects together in different subjects.

Information skills are best developed when the students search for information for an assignment that the teacher has given them. Thanks to the library’s new information specialist service, the work will be developed and expanded. A first step is the detailed cooperation plan that the library and middle school have drawn up for the subjects of native language (Finnish and Swedish) and literature. According to the cooperation plan, some of the learning takes place in the library, which is an open learning environment for the students.

For several years, we organized a nation- wide digital literacy day for seniors. We provided lectures, demon-strations and consultation, and we dealt with the computer, Internet, digital TV and mobile phones topics. In recent years, we have primarily offered personal and small-group consultation. Library patrons have been able to bring their own laptops under their arms and receive help in beginning their new digital lives. As a result, our staff has been known to receive gifts of candy.

Through the initiative of a young library user, the main library became an official BookCrossing zone. There is a large turnover of old books on the table and whoever registers the book on the BookCrossing website (www. bookcrossing.com) can follow the book’s trip around the world.

Music on the Internet

Many older music-lovers have discovered the computer as a source of music, thanks to the Internet music service, Naxos. The library pays for licenses, which allow up to two hours of listening at a time. If your opera gets cut short, you only need to log in again. If it is sound quality you need, then all you have to do is connect a good pair of speakers to the computer.

Another legal way for patrons to use the computer for their music hobby is to rip, or copy, CDs that they borrow from the library and save them on the hard drive. Then they can listen to the music on the computer’s speakers or on an mp3 player.

Media education and interactivity are terms we have only skimmed upon so far. Daycares and schools have been asking for media education. Some of this is the job of the library; the rest is for the school. Now it is just a question of agreeing on the game rules.

We particularly want to invest in interactivity and youth. We must go out to the social network, but we must have something to offer that no one else is offering. We are going to start with making the librarian available online for our students, so that they can chat and ask questions when they need help with book reviews, presentations and group work.

The possibilities that the Internet holds for libraries is limitless, and this is only the beginning. In order to secure a place in society, libraries must quickly respond to the digital needs of citizens. It is on the Internet that we will reach new patrons.

Margareta Kull-Poutanen
Director of libraries
Kirkkonummi

margareta.kull-poutanen AT kirkkonummi.fi

Director of libraries Kirkkonummi