Member Profile: Niamh O’Donovan

We are starting a new series of blog posts profiling the members of our network. We have asked each member the same questions and over the next few weeks we will post their answers here.

Our first member profile is Niamh O’Donovan, a Library Aissistant with Galway Public Libraries in Ireland.

See more about Niamh here.

Niamh O'Donovan

Niamh O’Donovan

Describe what you do in your job from day to day. (Describe how your day to day practices are related to adult literacy)

My job is different every day. I work with Adults and children. I help people with IT queries, I orgainise children’s and adult events, conduct workshops, information sessions, cultural events and reader’s advisory.

In our adult library I am working on two ongoing projects: a Reading Aloud group for adults with intellectual disabilities and I am developing our Business and Career Development special collection to assist with digital-literacy, job-seekers, new enterprise start-ups and people returning to education.

Choose and describe one program that you did, or would like to do, regarding Adult Literacy in your library or institution

I conduct a weekly Reading Aloud group for Adults with Intellectual Disabililties. Reading Aloud, otherwise known as Bibliotherapy is increasingly popular in Ireland and the UK and there are now reading aloud groups in Libraries, Prisons, Hospitals, Schools and Nursing Homes.

A Reading Aloud group is aimed at individuals who would like to improve their reading skills, or have low literacy levels due to their social or economic backgrounds. The content of the material that we read also helps participants address personal issues in their lives.

It is also about reading for pleasure and helping people to discover a love of good quality literature.

My group meet once a week and I read to them for about 20 minutes. The members are not able to read themselves but they always give positive feedback and it has become an essential part of their weekly routine.

Name three things that you think public Libraries in Europe can contribute to help improve the literacy levels of Europe’s Adult population?

  1.      A sharing of Best Practices in Literacy Programming to help libraries find ways to incorporate Adult Education into their services.
  2. Connecting and forming partnerships with eachother and National Agencies.
  3. Advocacy regarding Adult Literacy directed at politicians and policy makers.

What would you like to see happen in your country’s libraries in the next 12 months to help improve adult literacy in Europe?

I would like constructive support from our Government for the employment of professional qualified staff in Libraries. A strategic plan to restore the staffing levels and funding in all libraries across Ireland must be put in place to ensure that a quality library service can meet the needs of our citizens.

What do you think our Literacy for All Network can do to help libraries in Europe achieve these things?

We can be advocates for Libraries across Europe and change people’s perspective about Libraries. We are considered many things – cultural centres, social centres, obsolete.

We are also educators and that often goes unnoticed or it is not considered necessary. There is an assumption that libraries are just for those who love to read and read well. We can change that perception and show that we can and do provide support and expertise in all aspects of literacy.

We are already contributing a huge amount towards improving the literacy of Europe’s population. This can be highlighted by sharing our best practices. We can increase discussion and the exchange of ideas also by creating a dynamic and active network.

What would you say to anyone that is thinking of joining our network?

Whether you agree or disagree with what I’ve said you should still join our network. We want to discuss, collaborate and exchange ideas. Our strength is in our members and the more active members we have the more we can achieve. Please join!

If you are interested in joining our Literacy for All Network please email us or find us on Facebook or LinkedIn or follow us on Twitter.

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