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The European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations is an independent umbrella association of library, information, documentation and archive associations and institutions in Europe.

EBLIDA response to the EU High Level Group on Literacy

ANNEX – informal inputgathering by the High Level Group on Literacy (HLG)

Question 1:

From the perspective of your organisation and/or society as a whole, which do you see as the most important issues that are relevant in the area of literacy?

Lack of literacy (in its many varieties) excludes people from participating in labour, in society, from developing themselves and from taking responsibilities for their own life decisions. Hence, lack of literacy relates to poverty, instead of literacy pointing to empowerment.
From the economic point of view: we cannot afford to waste human potential; from the legal point of view: we cannot exclude people from basic human rights. From an ‘individual’ issue (‐ if ever correct at all), literacy is now a societal issue. Stakeholders (government, business, and social‐cultural services, such as libraries) are not meeting on a regular basis, as a coalition.

Literacy should be pursued focusing the attention on children and families.

Synergy between public libraries and school is fundamental. The joint work should be translated into strategies to raise awareness of families about the importance of reading, not only as a tool for knowledge and growth, but also as a source of pleasure and fun. Families must be aware that knowing how to read easily helps children in their academic performances and also to achieve a better quality of life. Teachers should be trained to work closely with librarians, to create continuity between school programs and the possibility of reaching further information and / or ramblings, as the library offers.

Even the publishing industry is an important link in this synergy. Publishers should use the expertise of librarians and educators to provide appropriate advice to its publications. The families need ongoing support that is gained by the coordination of all forces.

The Discussion document alludes to “21st –century literacy skills” (p2) described as the ability not just to read and write text but to use higher order problem‐solving skills and an illustration is given of searching for information online. Librarians describe a set of these higher order skills as “information Literacy” and one definition of this is: “Information literacy is knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner”.

We believe that these higher order skills are essential for individuals and communities to participate and thrive in today’s information society. The Alexandria Proclamation sets out more fully the library community’s aspirations and goals in this respect. It was sponsored by UNESCO and the International Federation of Library Associations. More details.

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