Libraries Promoting Reading in a multicultural, multilingual society

Maija Berndtson, from the Helsinki City Library, Helsinki, Finland, discusses her paper entitled “Libraries promoting multimodal literacy in an intercultural society.” She states, “We are empowering people. We need to focus on our customers, our users, our citizens–more perhaps than our institutions.” She poses a few interesting questions: What does it mean to be literate in a digital world? Do we live up to the manifesto, to UNESCO’s goals? When we are doing our everyday work, we often forget these things. Which direction should we go? 

She states that Libraries need to support the official country’s language and culture, as well as encourage other cultures within it.  For example, she was very proud of the language cafe where people came together to learn Finnish together. While they learn Finnish, they learn about each other and the cultures they come from. “How are libraries going to meet the challenges of the future?” she asks. “i don’t know how open we are.” She calls for communities to integrate and not separate. She defines the difference between multicultural and intercultural. Intercultural is a process and we really have the possibility to be an intercultural meeting place. Reading and literacy is basic in every country. Every one of us should start every day with a mantra, “I am doing powerful work because I am empowering people.”

Ray Dioron, faculty of education, University of PEI, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, and Marlene Asselin, faculty of education, University of British Columbia present their paper “Building a culture for reading in a multicultural, multilingual world.” Their goal is to show the link between literacy and libraries.  

Ruth Fassbind-Eigenheer, from Bibliomedia Schweiz, Solothurn, Switzerland, presents her paper “Intercultural library networking in Switzerland: Sharing materials and knowledge. First, libraries need materials and materials for reading promotion. Second, they need knowledge about multicultural populations. Bibliomedia Schweiz has both.       

Jamie Campbell Naidoo from the University of Alabama, presented his and his collegues’ paper “Celebrating culture: reading and family literacy @ the library with the Latino Reading and Literacy Programs “El dia de Los ninos/el dia de los libros (dia)” and “noche de cuentos.” all the authors are members of Reforma.

Briony Birdi from the Department of Information Studies, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK, presents her paper ‘We are here because you were there’: minority ethic genre fiction in UK public libraries. She starts by discussing the perceived separation between British Muslims and white citizens. She focuses on minority ethnic fiction in UK libraries. 

“Come to your library”: BLA project for promotion of reading in West Bengal, India, presented by Ratna Bandyopadhyay from the Department of Library and Information Science, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, West Bangal, India. The impact of her programs includes 15% increase of new members in 6 months and a regular attendance increase of 17%. Teachers and students took part in these library programs as well. They plan to extend this work in phases to all other public libraries. 

“Reading–what to purchase, and why?” presented by Ingrid Atlestam from Kultur I Vast Refionbiblioteket/the Vastra Gotalund Regional Library, Goteborg, Sweden, and Randi Myhre from Immigrant-institutet/The Immigrant Institute, Boras, Sweden) 
1/4 of people in Gothenburg were born outside of Gothenburg.  

1. Easy access to reading materials. Often, visitors will not ask for help or request books from other libraries. It makes it that much more important that the appropriate books are on the shelves. 
2. Immigrants among library staff
3. Purchase of second language learning media is top priority
4. Supply newspapers and magazines in different la gauges for newcomers
5. It is important to purchase literature from mother tongue
6. Non fiction in different languages is important for children, primers, schoolbooks
7. Non fiction for adults in different languages is requested
8. Leisure reading in mother tongue is mostly requested by well-established residents

The process:
A. Engage in dialogue with users
B. Two main patterns of library usage: well-established residents and newcomers. Prioritize newcomers’ needs of nonfiction.
C. Pedagogical task: show resources available online, improve marketing of educational service and activities
D. Collection management: examine how stocks in different languages used are used for evidence based decision making for new media purchases
E. Improve national/supranational support of library services for immigrants

2 thoughts on “Libraries Promoting Reading in a multicultural, multilingual society

  1. Very good ideas. Interculturality is becoming increasingly important in a more and more globalized world and libraries are an ideal mediator for that.

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