Friday, 5 August 2011

Seminar on libraries and social justice for the University of Missouri

I had the huge pleasure of being one of the trainers at a seminar on Tuesday for PhD and Masters students from the School of Information Science and Learning Technology at the University of Missouri. They are currently on a study tour of the UK, studying for two courses: ‘Libraries, literacy and social justice’ and ‘International libraries in context’. The theme of Tuesday’s seminar was social justice and public libraries, and it was organised jointly by the International Library and Information Group, the Network and myself.

My session was on promoting reading to young people, particularly the links between literacy and teenagers’ life-chances, and the important role of libraries in making reading relevant and enjoyable to teenagers. The discussions were fascinating, and very wide-ranging. We were particularly fortunate in having four young people talking movingly and eloquently about their reading and their involvement with Barnet Library Service. Very many thanks to Kareem, Casey, Rebecca and Elizabeth for their fantastic contributions, which really brought the subject to life, and to the wonderful Barnet library staff.

The seminar ended with an extremely stimulating question and answer session which focused especially on how libraries on both sides of the Atlantic can continue to contribute to social justice at a time of severe budgetary cuts.

I came away from the seminar with my head buzzing. I always love being involved in training that has an international perspective. There was so much food for thought, and lots of ideas that will have a bearing on future training, and indeed on an article I am just embarking on which will be exploring the theme of my session.