Libraries everywhere have always been champions of reading. One of the objectives of the Finnish public library act, which came into effect in 2017, is to promote reading culture and versatile literacy skills. In addition to maintaining versatile and up-to-date collections, the public library act states the promotion of reading and literature as one of the duties of public libraries in Finland. Reading promotion is, thus, strongly present in the library legislation. Finns are generally avid readers and library users. In 2018, the average Finn visited a library 9 times and borrowed 15.4 items. Yet, weakening literacy rates are also a topic of discussion here too and librarians and general public alike are worried about the dropping rates of reading. This is one reason why the promotion of reading carried out in libraries is considered to be extremely valuable.
All public libraries in Finland are performing reading promotion work in many different ways. It is often part of libraries’ core services, but many special projects and campaigns are done to promote literature and reading. Kronoby Public Library decided to take the threat of dropping literacy skills and falling interest in reading books among the children and youth seriously and chose decided to “Fix reading”.
Cooperation with schools and other libraries
Kronoby is a small municipality located in western Finland in the Ostrobothnia region. Kronoby has a population of approximately 6 500 people of which about 79 % are Swedish speakers. Kronoby library began to tackle the challenge of inspiring children and youth to read in cooperation with the local schools and neighbouring municipalities’ libraries in a library lead project called Fixa läsningen, which freely translates to Fix Reading.
The library explored several ways in which to inspire and encourage children and youth to read. There were numerous workshops, reading clubs, book talks, reading duels etc. There were workshops that combined different art forms, for example circus and theatre, with reading. These workshops were facilitated by circus and theatre professionals and the literature was chosen to reflect the theme. One interesting new way of carrying out reading promotion, combining literature with new technologies, was Book Trailers.
YouTube book trailers made by 5th-graders
In Book Trailer workshops, children from 5th and 6th grade (11-12 years old) formed groups where each group member read a different book. After reading the books, each pupil presented their book to the other group members. When all the books had been presented to the group, the group members voted which book would be made into a Book Trailer. The pupils then made a script for the trailer and filmed a trailer for a book like the ones you would have for films. The trailers were then published on YouTube and would work as an inspiration for other kids to read the books.
One long lasting outcome of the project was the strengthened cooperation with schools and libraries. As the project workshops and other activities were planned and carried out together with schools, a good foundation for better cooperation in the future was established.