Contact Seminar for Adult Learning and Participation

TCA Netherlands

The Erasmus+ National Agency in the Netherlands will be hosting a Transnational Cooperation Activity (TCA) on the 28th to the 30th of October. TCAs are organised by Erasmus+ organisations around Europe for the purpose of training and building partnerships.

The theme for this TCA is Adult Learning under the theme of participation. Some members of our network have been lucky enough to be granted permission to attend.

This seminar will be an opportunity for our network to develop partnerships with other organisations that attend and to formulate a plan to help develop or network. We hope to work on some ideas for projects that we can submit for the next KA2 Strategic Partnership funding stream.

It will also be a good opportunity for our network members to meet face to face. We have been conversing via Skype and our Facebook group for the past 18 months. It is always more productive when you meet in person.

Hopefully it will be a productive couple of days and we will come away from it with some constructive ideas that we can put into practice in our libraries. Keep an eye on the blog for a seminar report in November.

Literacy for All Network Reading for Literacy Week 2015

It’s here! Literacy Week 2015 is with us. To celebrate our network is showcasing all the amazing work that our members do across Europe for Adult Literacy.

From the 8th of September until the 17th of September our network members will make recordings of public readings of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. We will upload these recordings as well as details about the literacy work we do in our libraries all over Europe to this page and our YouTube channel.

The map below illustrates the diversity and geographical spread of our network.

Literacy Week 2015

Next week is Literacy Week starting with International Literacy Day on the 8th of September.

Literacy Week 2015

Our network is getting involved. We want to showcase all the amazing literacy work that libraries do across Europe. During Literacy Week we will have an interactive map of Europe available on our website. We will upload videos and images of members of our network reading Alice In Wonderland in our libraries. You can be involved too.

If you would like to take part this is what you need to do:

  • Make an audio or video recording of yourself reading Alice In Wonderland to Adults or Children in your library.
  • Write a short description of the work that you do in your library for literacy.
  • We will then upload your recording and details to our map on the location that it was recorded.
  • Your recording must not be longer than 5 minutes.

We have created a public folder on Google Drive for you to upload the recordings. Click on this link to access it.

Email us at
or find us on Twitter @literacyeurope for more details.


Member Profile: Marta Aliberch

In a new series of posts profiling our Network members and the work that they do we have asked each member of our network the same questions and we will post the responses here.

Today’s profile is from Marta Aliberch in Esteve Paluzie Public Library in Barcelona, Spain.

Marta Aliberch

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

I work in reference services in my library facilitating the users’ information needs (adults, children and local organizations). In addition, I give support in language services to facilitate formal and informal learning: access to library materials or other libraries in our region, information about languages schools and local linguistic programmes and guided tours adapted to suit particular interests or groups, including foreign visitors to Barberà del Vallès.
About adult literacy I collaborate with the Catalan Language Service to coordinate and conduct Easy-to-Read Clubs in the town with language students. Currently we have 3 groups who read specific material of an Easy- to-Read nature and this year one group has started reading Catalan Original text.

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

The Easy-To-Read Club in Barberà del Vallès began in 2013 as part of Catalan Language Services,  to improve the speaking and reading skills of its students. For this reason the books that are read in the library, except some fragments, are in the most basic level, because we want to use book’s contents as a great opportunity for speaking Catalan openly. In the region of Catalonia, Catalan and Spanish are co-official languages and both are used in all spheres of society.
Currently, this Club serves three levels of the Catalan Center: two basics levels and one pre-intermediate level with 15 or 20 students for each level. The type of user is very different, for example, people of different regions around Spain or people of different countries. And the age also is very diverse ranging from 18 to 70 years old.

This service is made possible by generosity and networking with other libraries in the Barcelona province and also collaboration with the Easy to Read Association in Barcelona. This collaboration helps us with the formation and extension of services and use of materials.

Finally, just this year,  people who read Easy-to-Read books can now read in the Catalan language without adaptations. This is very encouraging for us to continue our work and also shows how important this material is in the course of learning a language.  It also reinforces a guarantee of democracy in reading and literacy.

This year we plan to expand our Easy-to-Read materials and programmes into new contexts, for example, in a nursing home as a therapeutic activity for residents or as an inter-generational programme with two or more generations reading together.

Marta and her team at work.

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

-Integrate people at risk of social exclusion and guarantee the democratic right of all citizens to culture.
– Promote accessibility to information to everyone independently of reading or digital difficulties of each.
-Create a net of citizens and local agents interested with lifelong learning .

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

-Adopting public policy to guarantee resources in favour of lifelong learning and the recognition of role of the library in promoting literacy.
-Working together with community partners (schools, organizations, volunteers) for adopting joint ideas and principles.
-And finally, be made aware that easy materials are useful and necessary in our time and people need more editing, literature books or contemporary articles.

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

The European Network ‘Literacy For All’ can serve to share good practices, resources and information with European librarians who have the same objectives or problems.
At the same time is a great opportunity for working together, get financing and more recognition for the important role that libraries provide in creating learning opportunities for adults.

What would you say to anyone that is interested in joining our Network?

Welcome, nice to meet you!

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.

From Romania

Ionela Panait small photoMany of our network members have written reports about the conference and workshops which we attended and also the formation of our new network. Over the coming months we will publish these reports as guest blog posts.

Our first article is from Romanian Librarian Ionela Panait.



Rolul bibliotecilor publice în combaterea analfabetismului funcțional la adulți

Functional Illiteracy Europe este o inițiativă gândită de către Biblioteca Botkyrka din Suedia pentru bibliotecile publice, în cadrul Programului Grundtvig. Ea urmărește o mai bună înțelegere a rolului pe care bibliotecile îl pot avea în combaterea analfabetismului funcțional la adulți.

Câștigătoare în urma lansării apelului pe plan național, cu bucurie și mândrie ne-a reprezentat Biblioteca Județeană ”Dinicu Golescu” Argeș alături de alte biblioteci publice din Suedia, Portugalia, Marea Britanie, Spania, Republica Cehă, Germania, Olanda, Letonia, Italia, Irlanda, Slovenia, Bulgaria și Polonia.

Proiectul a fost dedicat bibliotecarilor, profesorilor și personalului care lucrează în domeniul alfabetizării adulților, din țările participante la Programul de Învățare pe tot Parcursul Vieții (LLP). Au avut întâietate bbliotecari cu experiență anterioară în domeniul alfabetizării adulților sau cu ambiții de a iniția un program în conformitate cu tema atelierului.

Workshopul ”Perspective asupra analfabetismului la adulți și învățarea unei a doua limbi: Spre o colaborare a bibliotecilor publice europene”, finanțat prin Programul Grundtvig, a avut loc în perioada 9-13 iunie 2014 și a combinat lecturi publice, susținute de reprezentanții unor instituții publice sau ai unor organizații non-guvernamentale care luptă pentru diminuarea analfabetismului la adulți, prezentări de proiecte de alfabetizare din țările participante, urmate de ample dezbateri și discuții.

Atelier in Botkyrka

Pornind de la conceptul de alfabetizare și de la definițiile date de UNESCO de-a lungul anilor alfabetizării funcționale, s-a discutat intens despre dezvoltarea serviciilor de bibliotecă, a competențelor și instrumentelor profesionale necesare pentru a sprijini mai bine procesul de alfabetizare în randul adulților lipsiți de o educație de bază.

Lisa Krolak, invitat de onoare de la UNESCO, a subliniat că bibliotecile publice trebuie să arate cât sunt de importante în comunitate. Acest lucru este, de asemenea, conectat la faptul că biblioteca publică trebuie să fie relevantă şi pentru oamenii care trăiesc acolo, lucru întărit şi de Kristian Nagel Delica, cercetător la Universitatea din Roskilde din Danemarca, care a menţionat că bibliotecile publice pot îndeplini şi funcţia de spații sociale în cartierele defavorizate, atâta timp cât ele se vor adapta la noile nevoi.

Atelierul din Botkyrka a abordat analfabetismul funcțional şi prin prisma învăţării unei a doua limbi. Majoritatea adulților analfabeți din punct de vedere funcțional din Europa utilizează limba maternă ca singura lor limbă. Cu toate acestea, șomajul crescut din anumite țări europene și schimbările survenite în compoziția demografică a Europei fac ca necesitatea vorbirii unei a doua limbi să fie tot mai importantă.

O parte a conținutului workshop-ului a fost teoretică, în timp ce alte prezentări au fost mai mult concentrate pe modele practice și implementări ale metodelor pedagogice. Un astfel de exemplu îi aparține Lenei Ryman Wilden, profesor de limbă suedeză ce lucrează cu imigranți din Norrköping. Prelegerea sa despre procesul de a dezvolta o aplicație proiectată pentru formare lingvistică pentru elevi adulți a constat în prezentarea iPad-ului ca un nou mod de a îmbunătăți abilitățile de limbă suedeză ale cursanților. Aceasta a povestit cum crearea aplicației Alfavux (în limba suedeză), în colaborare cu Agenția Națională Suedeză pentru Educație, a condus la îmbunătățirea rezultatelor de învățare a limbii suedeze a persoanelor imigrante din Suedia.

Pe parcursul întregii săptămâni, au fost promovate şi unele edituri care se ocupă cu diminuarea analfabetismului la adulţi. Este cazul editurii E-förlaget din Suedia, care publică cărți ușor de citit, atât de ficțiune și non-ficțiune, cât şi cărți audio și e-book-uri pentru persoanele cu dizabilități de citire. Publicul său este format din dislexici, imigranți, persoane cu alte deficiențe de citire cauzate de dizabilități intelectuale, precum și tineri din casele unde lectura a fost neglijată.

În cadrul sesiunilor interactive, au existat opinii diferite cu privire la rolul bibliotecii publice în eliminarea analfabetismului funcţional. Cert este că biblioteca publică poate stabili care organizații locale și naționale sunt implicate în această activitate de diminuare a analfabetismului și poate dezvolta parteneriate cu ei, pentru a-şi aduce contribuţia prin resursele deţinute şi prin expertiza sa.

Stockholm Public Library

Vizita informală de documentare în cadrul Bibliotecii Publice din Stockholm a demonstrat toate aceste aspecte, îmbunătăţind experienţa celor 15 bibliotecari publici din Europa.
Biblioteca Publică din Stockholm, una dintre cele mai cunoscute clădiri ale oraşului, a fost proiectată de Erik Gunnar Asplund şi pusă în funcţiune în anul 1928 cu aproximativ 200 000 de cărţi.

Astăzi, ea include mai mult de 2 milioane de volume și 2,4 milioane de casete audio, CD-uri și cărți audio. Utilizatorii săi se pot bucura de toate facilităţile unei biblioteci publice de asemenea amploare, tot ce trebuie făcut e achiziţionarea unui card de bibliotecă – care este gratuit. Astfel, pot folosi singuri sistemul de împrumut şi returnare cărţi, e-cărți și articole de ziar direct prin calculator, prin unele telefoane mobile și tablete. Dacă există nevoie de ajutor, se poate rezerva o programare cu un bibliotecar pentru un timp mai îndelungat. Există şi un sprijin suplimentar pentru nevăzători şi persoanele cu deficienţe de vedere și a persoanelor cu dificultăți de citire.

Așa cum s-a menționat şi în timpul workshop-ului, crearea de rețele presupune muncă și responsabilitate. Dar în același timp, poate însemna și schimb de metode, materiale și idei, împărtășirea cunoștințelor și a solidarității, care să conducă la o colaborare a bibliotecilor publice europene.

Suedia - participantii din Europa

Ionela Panait
Biblioteca Judeţeană ”Dinicu Golescu” Argeş

The beginning of a network regarding literacy among adults

The workshop week in Botkyrka was a part of a public library network initiative regarding literacy among adults and the role of the library. Now a european network is created! The network is called LITERACY FOR ALL – European Library Network.

How to network


You can find tweets from the conference week on Twitter: #literacyforall14

You can see more pictures on Instagram: #literacyforall14

Slides from the public lectures will soon be published on the blog.

Thank you all participants, lectures and visitors for a fantastic week in Botkyrka!

Some pictures from the week

Tomorrow is the last day of the workshop week in Botkyrka, and in the afternoon we’ll discuss how we can create a network regarding literacy among adults and the role of the library. As someone said during the workshop session today, networking is work as well as a responsibility. But it’s also about exchanging methods, materials and ideas, knowledge sharing and solidarity.

Text saying Networking is work - Knowledge sharing - Solidarity

From the workshop session on Thursday.

The week has been quite intensive with the aim of giving different perspectives on literacy, and also space to discuss this topic in order to deepen our knowledge. Some of the content have been more theoretical while other presentations have been more focused on practical examples and implementations of pedagogical methods.

Two pictures of Birgitta Notlöf giving an lecture

A lot of fabrique and action when Birgitta Notlöf from the non-profit organisation Livstycket Knowledge and Design Centre presented their work with functional pedagogy.

One aspect important to remember is that we should not define people from what they don’t know but from what they know. You might be literate in one society, but not necessarily in another.

A walking tour in Botkyrka

Reading the landscape during a walking tour in Botkyrka inspired by Qarin Frankers lecture on literacy and multimodality.

It was pointed out by Lisa Krolak from UNESCO that the public libraries need to show others that we’re important, not just tell each other. This is also connected to that the public library must be relevant in its local society and for the people living there. As Kristian Nagel Delica, researcher from Roskilde University, emphasized it’s not necessarily about building new libraries, but about adapting the old ones to new needs and new times.

Picture of Kristian Nagel Delica

Kristian Nagel Delica spoke about the library as a hybrid institution and social space.

So, what’s the role of the public library when it comes to supporting literacy among adults? How can we collaborate on this matters together? We might not have all the answers tomorrow, but we’ll for sure have made some progress.

Learning to play the mouth harp!

So, the workshop week is finally here! Today it’s already the second day of the conference Literacy for all – Botkyrka 2014. Already on the arrival day to Sweden the workshop participants  learned how to play the mouth harp…

Around 45 people visited the library in Hallunda on the first day of the conference. Rosario Ali Taikon gave a public lecture on the situation of Roma in Sweden and Europe. Then Caroline Keerfoot problematized the concepts of literacy.

In the afternoon the workshop participants, whom are from 15 different countries in Europe, discussed the subjects further.

Follow #literacyforall14 on Twitter!

Interesting public lectures all week

We can now present all the public lectures during the conference Literacy for all – Botkyrka 2014. The week will start on Monday with an lecture about the situation of Roma in Europe hold by Rosario Ali Taikon, and another lecture by Caroline Keerfoot, a lecturer from South Africa, who will talk about the concepts of literacy.

Literacy for all - Botkyrka 2014Monday 9th June

Inauguration 10-10:20

Presentation of Botkyrka 10:20-10:40
Helena Rojas, Division for Democracy, Human Rights & Intercultural Development, Botkyrka Municipality

The situation of Roma in Europe 10:40-11:20
Rosario Ali Taikon, Romané Bučá

An interrogation of concepts of literacy 11:20-12
Caroline Kerfoot, Lecturer, Centre for Research on Bilingualism, Stockholm University in Sweden and University of the Western Cape in South Africa

Tuesday 10th June

Literacy and multimodality 10-11
Qarin Franker, the Department of Swedish, University of Gothenburg in Sweden

Functional pedagogy 11-11:30
Livstycket Knowledge and Design Centre, non-profit organisation in Tensta, Stockholm

Easy-to-Read audio books and e-books 11:30-12
Laura Mendez Edkvist, publisher-in-Chief of LL-förlaget

Wednesday 11th June

The role of public libraries for supporting adult literacy 10-11
Lisa Krolak, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), Head of the UIL Library

Literacy on four legs – Presentation of the ALEF method 11-11:20
Hélène Boëthius, ALEF, Adult Learning and Empowerment Fund

Digital environments for all 11:30-12:15
Lena Ryman Wildén, teacher in second language

Thursday 12th June

Public libraries as hybrid institutions? 10-11
Kristian Nagel Delica, the Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial Change, Roskilde University in Denmark

To make oneself heard – Comment tracks for all 11-12
Malin Crona, the editor in chief for the Swedish newspaper 8 Sidor (8 Pages)

Friday 13th June

Project presentations from around Europe 10-12



Why functional illiteracy?

What is functional literacy? According to the widely used UNESCO definition from 1978 functional literacy means:

“A person is functionally literate who can engage in all those activities which literacy is required for effective functioning of his [or her] group or community and also for enabling him [her] to continue to use reading, writing and calculation for his [or her] own and the community’s development” (Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2006, p. 30).

The concept is not unproblematic. In UNESCOs Second Global Report on Adult Learning and Education: Rethinking Literacy (2013) following critique is put forward:

“The notion of “functional literacy” has been heavily criticised as instrumental and biased towards economic activity. However, literacy is always “functional”, since it equips people with skills that allow them to function, so there is no need for such a qualifier. These definitions have been framed within education statistics, so they are mostly operational definitions for measurement purposes” (2013, p. 20).

However, we find the concept useful in the sense of contextualising reading and writing. Even though the definition may seem instrumental, the concept has the benefit of separating different aspects of literacy, and put forward a concept of literacy useful in rethinking public library work with regard to democratic participation and social inclusion. It asks fundamental questions about what kind of texts and reading that is valued in society as well as in public libraries.