All children and young people are entitled to those services provided by the library community. And to most people it is apparent that library services to children should be taken as seriously and treated in the same manner as in the case of adults. The public library has a special responsibility to children in creating and strengthening reading habits and offer children knowledge about search methods and the evaluation of information. Through the public library’s wide range of media and activities, children are given the opportunity to experience the pleasures of reading and the excitement in gaining knowledge and exploring the realms of the imagination.
Dialogue, interaction and collaboration are increasingly important factors to the evolvement of today’s library and this is made apparent not least through the activities of children. The needs of children and young people are – more so than before – a measure of operations and they can influence these to a greater extent than before.
The library should encourage curiosity and the enjoyment of reading. For oral storytelling, reading activities and for children and young people’s quest for knowledge a library should be a beacon. A library must be active and be able to outreach.
Librarians are better at marketing their work to the general public than before. New methods have been introduced to encourage a love of reading. It uses a broader textual concept and keeps an open view on how a story can be conveyed. More art forms are used, new coproductions with other cultural operators have been initiated, and there is more ongoing interaction with children.
The difference between concepts of reading promotion and reading stimulus is highlighted. Foremost is the distinction that reading stimulus is considered a broader term than that of promoting reading, which is addressed directly to the individual, and the desire to find the right book for the right child. The insight gained is that in order to meet children’s need to bond with their experiences and making their stories available other media formats are required such as theatre, music, information and communication technologies.
A prerequisite for successful reading promotion is positive cooperation between the public and school libraries. It may look a little different from one municipality to another, and perhaps one can try different paths before arriving at a working partnership. But there is throughout theNordic region any number of good examples and role models to be inspired by! Good partnerships lay the foundation for a child’s language development, cultural experiences and personal creativity. A good partnership will also lay the foundation for lifelong learning and encourage children and young people to achieve coherence in life.
Administrative officer Swedish Arts Council
mats.hansson AT kulturradet.se
Translated by Jonathan Pearman