by Marja Kivihall and Kadi Lukanenok
The International Reading Association, the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), and the International Board for Books for Young People (IBBY) acknowledge the intrinsic value and importance of literacy in the widest sense, which is a prerequisite for seeking and accessing information of any kind, understanding it, and making use of it. Education (formal, non-formal, and informal), availability of books in the readers’ languages, support for local publishing, and library programming are complementary sources and enablers of knowledge. They are central pillars to aims, goals, and values of each named organisation, which makes close cooperation between them natural and needed.
At the 14th European Conference on Reading in Zagreb, Croatia, in August 2005, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between participating organizations was signed by IFLA president Kay Raseroka, IRA president Richard Allington, and IBBY president Peter Schneck.
They agreed to work on practical modalities including exchange of expertise (joint statements, declarations, manifestos, etc.), joint advocacy and support for each others’ advocacy activities, joint research activities, workshops and/or training sessions, projects, and publications. The MoU paid special attention to cooperation at each others’ conferences. Following is a good example of realisation of the MoU at the root level between associations and institutions in a country.
The IFLA WLIC 2012 Preconference “Let’s Read! Reading and Print Disabilities in Young People” was held on 8-9 August 2012 in Tallinn, Estonia. The conference was organized by IFLA Libraries Serving Persons with Print Disabilities Section (LPD) in cooperation with the Estonian Reading Association and the Estonian Library for the Blind.
The aim of the conference was to highlight the importance of delivering special library services for children and youngsters with print disabilities (e.g. visual impairment) or reading difficulties (e.g. dyslexia) and show how to improve the services through co-operation and partnership with schools and reading associations.
Target groups included:
- librarians (specialized library services and public libraries)
- national organizations working with dyslexia and other interest groups
- other professionals working with persons with print disabilities
- children’s librarians from the Nordic libraries for the print disabled
It took more than a year to organize the conference with active e-mailing and having Skype and eye-to-eye meetings. The first meeting with IFLA LPD Section’s members in Oslo took place in May 2011. It was followed by the second meeting in Tallinn at the Estonian Library for the Blind in November 2011 which was also attended by Kadi Lukanenok from the Estonian Reading Association and Tallinn University.
The active preparations culminated with the conference in August 2012 which turned out to be a success with a good program and interesting visits to the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre and the Estonian Library for the Blind. Participants of the conference came to Tallinn from 18 countries to acquire information and enrich their knowledge.
Kadi Lukanenok and Meeli Pandis represented the Estonian Reading Association at the conference. KadiLukanenok gave a presentation “Dyslexia 3-level Framework by U. Frith. Implication for Society.”
During the conference the dinner was arranged at the Estonian Open Air Museum, and visits to the Estonian Library for the Blind and the Estonian Children’s Literature Centre were organized.
Further cooperation between the Estonian Library for the Blind, Estonian Reading Association, and Tallinn University Department of Special Education was discussed. The inclusion of reading/print disabled people is still problematic in Estonia. All partners looked ahead for problem solving ideas engaging special education and teacher training students. Many useful contacts were established.
Information about the preconference is available at www.nlb.no/en/ifla-preconference-2012/.
Marja Kivihall is from the Estonian Library of the Blind, email@example.com.
Kadi Lukanenok is from the Estonian Reading Association, Kadi.firstname.lastname@example.org.