The Cultural Lunch Packet

Reading on the agenda in the workplace

The Cultural Lunch Packet is a programme for cultural activity in the workplace. The goal of the programme is to provide wider access to cultural events. In cooperation with the National Library, local public libraries will disseminate literature and in-crease the desire to read in workplaces all over the country.

Background: The Year of Reading 2010

The background for the literary dissemination effort with The Cultural Lunch Packet is the Reading Promotion campaign in 2010-2014, which kicked off with the Year of Reading 2010. In two separate reports to the Storting, the Government laid the foundation for efforts to increase reading fre-quency. The objective was to promote

a national, unified reading policy aiming to enhance reading skills in all parts of the country. During the Year of Reading, adults who are infrequent readers were selected as the main target group.

Throughout the Year of Reading, a number of campaigns and programmes were initiated to promote reading among adults. In working life, the Workers’ Education Association (AOF) played a key role as the coordinator of the reading promotion campaign, while the association !Read, Books for Everyone and The Norwegian Writers’ Centre were among the other main actors. With the aid of project funding from the Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority, local libraries were included in the programme. Since many of the initiatives were implemented as part of the Year of Reading, they came to an abrupt halt when the year was over. During 2010 the National Library took over the remit and the resources related to libraries from the Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority, and after the end of the Year of Reading, the reading promotion campaign was continued on the basis of the National Library’s project and development funds. The goal is to initiate and develop pro-grammes that can enhance reading skills in the population as a whole. The reading promotion campaign is part of the development of the library sector, in which good collaborative relation-ships and various forms of reading promotion should be part of the libraries’ activities in the long term.

A new report to the Storting

In December 2011, the Government submitted a new report to the Storting on culture, inclusion and participation. The report presumes that cultural life should be perceived as open and relevant to all groups in society, and emphasises the following points:

  1. Inclusion and new voices in the cultural sector.
  2. Ensuring of access by dismantling of physical and financial barriers.
  3. Active dissemination of culture and active dissemination programmes.
  4. Inclusion through collaboration with and participation in the voluntary cultural sector.

This report to the Storting provides an answer to the question of how the reading promotion initiatives in previous reports should be followed up. The report refers to how The Cultural Lunch Packet will continue part of the efforts undertaken during the Year of Reading, especially with regard to the workplaces. The Cultural Lunch Packet should have the same role in working life as The Cultural Rucksack has in schools, and be similar to the cultural programme for the elderly, The Cultural Walking Cane. In addition to promotion of literature and reading, the Lunch Packet also contains a musical element.

The Lunch Packet

The National Library has been assigned a prominent role in the implementation of the new programme. The Ministry of Culture distributes the funding for The Lunch Packet through Con-certs Norway and the National Library. Concerts Norway, which is responsible for the musical content of The Lunch Packet, fills the role of producer as well as arranger, and delivers a ‘package solution’ directly to the workplaces. The National Library, which has been made responsible for what the report refers to as “literature and promotion of reading”, distributes the funding through the local public libraries. The report regards the public libraries as a low-threshold service with a professional content, and they are thus the natural choice of arena for the development of this programme. This will also pave the way for a further development of the libraries’ own services.

In 2012, the Ministry has granted funds to The Lunch Packet in two separate tranches. The first grant, which came towards the very end of last year, amounted to NOK 1.9 million (approximately EUR 257 000). These funds were intended to ensure a launch of the project in 2012. The next grant was made in the context of the revised national budget immediately before the summer, and amounted to NOK 3.8 million (approximately EUR 515 000). These will be distributed together with the National Library’s other project and development funds. The announ-cement of these funds describes the project as follows:

“The Cultural Lunch Packet has been described in Report No. 10 (2011-2012) to the Storting, Culture, Inclusion and Participation. The programme is intended to involve local cooperation between libraries and employers to reach out with cultural and literary content and initiatives to promote reading. These efforts should, among other things, represent a continuation of the campaign for promotion of reading in working life, whereby more people should gain access to culture in the workplace.

Examples of purposes for which funding can be applied for:

  • development of arenas for dissemination of culture and literature and promotion of reading in working life, and
  • development of forms of cooperation between libraries and employers with regard to dissemination of culture andliterature and promotion of reading.”


The first round of allocations took place in June 2012, when the first NOK 1.9 million were distributed on the basis of applications from local libraries. Before the deadline, a total of 47 applications had been received, for a total sum of NOK 5.3 million (approximately EUR 716 000). Funds were granted to a total of 24 projects in all parts of the country. This round proves that there is a lot of creativity out there, and a good basis for creating positive literary experiences and reading projects in the collaboration between the public libraries and em-ployers. One of the goals was to demonstrate the entire range of the libraries’ services and find new ways to reach out to users.

The diversity of the project portfolio makes it difficult to describe all the activities that will unfold through the autumn, but in Narvik, for example, a workplace library will be established on the basis of ICA logistics. In Rogaland county, the libraries will expand the traditional “All Rogaland reads” cam-paign to provide a programme for literary events in various workplaces. Asker public library wants to develop a subscription scheme for books to enterprises in their local area, modelled on the subscription schemes for fruit deliveries. Large parts of the country are represented, as are a large number of workplaces.

In the autumn of 2012, further funding opportunities for The Lunch Packet were announced. At the time of writing, the projects which will receive grants in this round have not yet been selected. However, the goal remains clear: The events will serve to bring literature and reading out to a larger proportion of the population, and the libraries are charged with the task of making this happen. It will hardly be possible to serve lunch packets in all the country’s workplaces, but the scheme allows the libraries to engage in dissemination of literature in new ways and in new arenas.

Director at Secretariat for Library Development, The National Library of Norway