In today's information society it is not sufficient to be able to only read and write. The ability and skill to use the Internet and various web services have become a necessity for active citizenship, providing a base for both participation and learning as well as, preventing social exclusion and loneliness .
Our Project in a Nutshell
Our participating libraries aim to develop methods to strengthen web usage skills in various sections of society. In essence, we are searching for working methods that enable libraries to reach new users segments, encourage them to become patrons of library services, as well as, strengthen their ability to use web-based services .
We Need Cooperation and Courage
Libraries cannot however, achieve all this alone. Instead it is worth looking for courageous and active partners. For example, a recovering mental health patient, or an unemployed person, may not have the ability to formulate their needs and wants clearly. In order to communicate effectively with these patrons, support from various associations and other professionals are needed.
These things do, however, move along slowly, so you should allow for plenty of time. Don't let set backs get you down, believe in your cause. The patron's curiosity and eagerness to learn is infectious providing employees with renewed energy and motivation .
Case: Library in Turku - Continuity is of Importance
In Turku, the mental health association found the groups and the people, while the library charted the needs, provided the facilities and planned the schedule. The gatherings have been continuous and regular and meetings were held every week, altogether 12 times. The programme was quite flexible and all participants had the opportunity to influence it. A lot of activities were included in it nonetheless, working with pictures seemed to be the most popular activity. Entailing getting acquainted with digital photography and making a digital story, to mention but a few.
Case: Activating the Laid Off -Reacting to Local Changes
In Turku, there are projects available that have been customised for the marine industry, which is in dire straits. The aim of the project is to maintain the working capability of laid off workers. So, how can libraries assist in this matter then?
We gathered a group of 20 laid off people for a visit to the library. During this visit, not only did the library services become familiar to the visitors, but so did also the electronic services. Finally, all visitors received their own library card.
Case: The Audio book Club in Vaasa - Sharing, Learning and Discussion
The audio book club is a bilingual (Finnish and Swedish) reading circle, that meets up once a month. Participants with reading difficulties, as well as, other reading problems, for example, visual impairment or physical disabilities, frequent the club. Nonetheless, everybody who is interested in audio books and discussing about them is welcome to the group.
Case: The Library and Prison in Cooperation - Making You Voice Carry Over the Wall
In Vaasa, a new joint venture is being forged between the local library and the prison. Within this project, prisoners with families are being taught about children's literature, as well as, the importance of reading. Moreover, the prisoners learn about media technology and audio editing.
The objective is to record a story that the prisoners will the read out loud. Then both the book and the recording are sent to the prisoner's child/children at home. The aim is to encourage reading, and most of all to strengthen the relationship between the child and parent. Hopefully this will also encourage library usage.
In this project the division of tasks between various professionals is very important. In addition, the family has to be aware of ,and be in agreement about the project. Good results have been reported from similar projects in both Britain and Sweden. That is why we want to take up the challenge in Finland also.
The project is administered by the Culture Department at the Seinäjoki School of Applied Sciences. Turku, Vaasa, Pietarsaari, Porvoo and Ylöjärvi city libraries carry out the various parts of the project. The project is ESR funded.
More information www.verkkohaltuun.fi
Our blog: verkkohaltuun.wordpress.com
Contact: verkkohaltuun (at) gmail.com
About us elsewhere
Scandinavian Public Library Quarterly, 2011:4, p. 22-23
Close encounters: Three Finnish library projects make a difference
Finnish Broadcasting Company, 17.10.2011
Prisoners to begin reading fairytales