Sue Ball writes about her time at the Eurolis Seminar, Italian Cultural Institute, Dec 2019
The day involved a range of sessions delivered by leading experts from across Europe on how to improve the library offer to young people.
Lara Meana, a Spanish independent bookseller specializing in children’s literature and illustration challenged us to think about how we felt about books and reading when we were young. We then had to put ourselves in the shoes of young people today. Thinking in this way helped me to consider what the library offer should look like and the organisations we should work with to reach young people who don’t read. Lara challenged us to provoke conversation – look at them, see them, make them feel appreciated and to create participation opportunities using a targeted outreach plan. It was encouraging to see that Lara’s points mirrored ASCEL’s Principles for Working with Young People in Libraries.
French editor-in-chief of the Journal Lecture Jeune, Christelle Gombert asked us to think about why do we want young people to read and pointed out that the answer is crucial in helping us to develop our library offer and consider how we engage with young people. Christelle shared the findings from research published in France in 2019 on the reasons why young adults in France cannot access culture or participate in cultural activities out of home.* These included cost, lack of time, lack of interest and a cultural offer that did not meet their taste or needs.
I think there are parallels with the lives of young people living in the UK and Christelle shared a handy planning tool to use in order to think about how prevention issues can be addressed when planning a project with young people:
Another highlight was Kathrin Joswig talking about her role as a Media Educator delivering workshops, events and training in the Library of Hamburg. Kathrin’s top tip – know your community and network. This was reiterated by Polish speaker and Community Development Worker Marta Sordyl who stressed the importance of finding out what the priorities are for the community and organisations you work with and think how the library offer supports these so that people are invested in your programmes and help the programmes to succeed.
The conference provided not only great learning but an opportunity to meet and network with colleagues from across Europe.
My challenge to myself over the next month is to think about this learning and what can we do differently in Staffordshire to engage young people in reading and libraries.
Stock, Services & Activities Manager
Staffordshire Libraries & Arts Service