In June 2014 Literacy for all – Botkyrka 2014, a conference regarding literacy among adults and the role of the library, were held by Bibliotek Botkyrka, the public library organisation of Botkyrka municipality in Sweden.
The conference week combined theoretical seminars, presentations of literacy projects, and creative workshops on public library work and librarians roles and competencies regarding adult literacy. In the mornings there were public lectures and in the afternoons, a group of 20 selected participants from all over Europe, discussed the subjects further in a workshop (Adult illiteracy and second language perspectives: Toward a public library collaboration in Europe). Librarians, teachers and staff working within the field of adult literacy, from countries participating in the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) could attend the workshop which was funded by the Grundtvig Programme.
One purpose was to create a network of public libraries and librarians on the topic literacy among adults and the role of the library.
The idea of the workshop
As a public library, literacy is a key mission for Bibliotek Botkyrka. The idea to arrange a workshop came when reading the report from EU high Level Group of Experts on Literacy (2012). Their warning that Europe may face a “literacy crisis” inspired us to work for intensified efforts within the European public library sector.
To support literacy development among adults without basic formal education using Swedish as a second language is an important and difficult task, but unfortunately so far quite neglected within the public library sector in Sweden. At Bibliotek Botkyrka, however, the need for a strengthened effort is recognized. Within the organization there is an interest to develop the library services, competencies and professional tools required to better support literacy development among adults lacking basic formal education.
Except purchasing and distrubution of various media, there has been initial steps taken towards local cooperation in Botkyrka, as well as cooperation with other Swedish libraries. For example, in cooperation with the organisation Botkyrka kvinnoresurscenter (BRC), a seminar was arranged in October 2012 about adult illiteracy in Sweden.