Member Profiles : Peter Bjorkman

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.Peter Bjorkman photo

Our next network member isPeter Bjorkman, a Librarian at Bibliotek Botkyrka, Sweden and co-founder of the Literacy For All Network.
Contact Peter directly at

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 as Librarian in Hallunda library, in Botkyrka Municipality, Stockholm Region. My work includes information services in the library, acquisition of media in linguistics and second language acquisition for adults (language courses, easy-readers, etc.), and strategic work in the field of public performances and discussions in the library. I also faclilitate programmes in the library for different age groups.

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

I have worked with easy-reader books in a lot of settings and contexts. I have for example collaborated with a local learning center, where I held a reading group with seniors with very basic literacy skills. This autumn I will have two different reading groups for marginalized citizens in my community, in collaboration with a local work agency.

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

1) Focus on storytelling and public gatherings for all age groups, i.e. work consciously with the relationship between the spoken and the written word.
2) IT related courses.
3) Collaborate with local agencies relating to health, work, and education, in order to reach people with no or limited library experience.

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

Librarians working with adults will hopefully strengthen their focus on literacy and multilingual issues. More awareness is needed.Hallunda Bibliotek

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

Hopefully the network will evolve and become an lively meeting place for librarians around Europe working with adult education issues. In order to fully become that meeting place it needs to expand. Hopefully it will become so well organized in the future that it will be able to carry out projects of different kind.

Email Peter directly here.

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.


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.

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

Slides from the conference Literacy for all – Botkyrka 2014

Slides from some of the public lectures hold during the conference Literacy for all – Botkyrka 2014 in June:

The Role of Public Libraries in Supporting Adult Literacy (PDF)
Lisa Krolak, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), Head of the UIL Library

ALEF method (PDF)
Hélène Boëthius, ALEF, Adult Learning and Empowerment Fund

Public libraries as hybrid institutions: social innovative spaces in disadvantaged neighbourhoods (PDF)
Kristian Nagel Delica, Assistant professor, Department of Environmental, Social and Spatial change, Roskilde University, Denmark

De Bibliotheek Taal & Werk  (PDF)
Lianne Knobel, Bibliotheek Breda, the Netherlands

The power of languages and the need to learn Swedish: Activities within the libaries of Botkyrka (PDF)
Marie Johansen, Bibliotek Botkyrka, Sweden

The Women International House of Trieste (PDF)
(Enhanced version of the presentation in Botkyrka in June 2014)
Simonetta Pasqualis, Italy


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!