Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Read All about It: The Moreland Reading Project and the UK National Reading Campaigns

Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Read All about It: The Moreland Reading Project and the UK National Reading Campaigns

Article excerpt

The Moreland reading project is an innovative approach to encouraging people to read more, modelled on the national reading campaigns in the United Kingdom. The project aims to develop a community culture in which the importance of reading is valued and acknowledged, not only as a fundamental building block of learning but as one of the great pleasures in life. A community wide initiative coordinated by the library, the project has also contributed to celebrating Moreland's identity and showcasing the life experiences of its residents. The success of the national reading campaigns in the UK suggests that Australia should be developing similar campaigns. Edited version of a paper given at the Alia national public libraries conference Melbourne November 2001

Read in order to live Gustave Flaubert

As library professionals we embrace Flaubert's statement, but our challenge lies in spreading the reading message to the wider community. The Moreland reading project is an innovative approach to encouraging people to read more, inspired by and modelled on the national reading campaigns in the UK. We have interpreted reading in its broadest sense to include other languages and formats such as talking book and screen based mediums.

Essentially, the project promotes the message that reading is not only one of the fundamental building blocks of learning but one of the great pleasures in life. It aims to develop a community culture where the importance of reading is valued and acknowledged. The project has also contributed to celebrating Moreland's identity and showcasing the life experiences of its residents.

Framework

During 2000, the project featured monthly themes and related activities to promote reading. The broad range of themes was aimed at appealing to all sections of the community and included Seen the picture, now read the book; Murder, mystery and mayhem focusing on crime fiction and literature; Other people, other places focusing on armchair travel and There's more to reading than books which promoted alternative reading formats.

Monthly activities were organised by small volunteer theme teams across Moreland's five service points, giving staff the opportunity to expand their skills and use their imagination and creativity in a way that is not often possible with their existing roles. The theme teams model also enhanced communication between the different branch libraries. A project officer with an events and marketing background was employed in late 1999 and shared her considerable marketing and promotions knowledge with staff, again increasing the staff skills base.

Activities

From the topical and informative, to the escapist and experimental, the project has hosted a vast range of activities in English and other languages to appeal to the diverse Moreland community. Events have included talks by local and international authors as well as workshops varying from recording your own music, poetry writing, parenting, tracing the history of your house, to self publishing.

Other activities have included film nights, fun monthly competitions, launches of new materials in other languages, special children's storytimes and workshops. A feature has been colourful cultural activities including Croatian, Indonesian and Sinhalese launches and performances.

Apart from activities, reading lists have been produced including annotated bibliotherapies listing books to help children deal with such social issues as bullies and bullying, fears and phobias, death and dying and divorce and the changing family. These lists have been distributed free to every child care centre, kindergarten and primary school in Moreland.

One simple activity attracting much interest from library users was Where have the staff behind the counter been? featuring holiday photographs of staff and their account of places they have visited as part of the Other people, other places theme. …

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