Support of reading and readership
Libraries offer support for the continuous education of children, young people and adults, and for the spending of leisure time. Although libraries are facing competition from new media, and the use of their services is not compulsory, they are visited by more and more people, and there is an increase in the use of their book collections. Libraries stimulate the development of reading and help deepen education at all levels without discrimination. Every year, the Association of Library and Information Professionals of the Czech Republic prepares several projects with the aim of promoting reading and the use of libraries.
Since 1996, libraries have been organizing an annual "Library Week" at the beginning of October. The objective is to present libraries to the general public and introduce a wide variety of library and information services. During the week, libraries nationwide try to attract their regular readers, as well as those who have not as yet visited the libraries. Hundreds of libraries host meetings with writers and politicians, and organize lectures, courses, exhibitions, surveys, and competitions. New readers can get a discount on registration fees. Discounts are also given on Internet access, and in some libraries, amnesty is offered on late returns. Library Week is also a time for the opening of new and reconstructed libraries.
The Great October Group Readings
This event has in recent years been held during the Library Week. Both library users and the general public are invited to libraries to read a passage and introduce their favourite author or book. Authors, athletes, politicians and other celebrity figures also take part in the readings.
March - Internet Month
Since 2000, libraries have been taking part in this nationwide project aimed at promoting Internet use and the development of information society. Libraries introduce their electronic services, new information sources, and databases to the public. They also offer people access to the Internet and show them how to work with the information technologies. They help seniors, housewives, people with disabilities, and other groups to overcome uneasiness and learn how to use computers and the Internet.
A Night with Hans Christian Andersen
This is one of the activities used by Czech libraries since 2000 to increase children's interest in reading. On the anniversary of the birth of Hans Christian Andersen, libraries invite their child readers to spend the night at the library. In 2005, A Night with Hans Christian Andersen took place at 408 locations - in Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia, Slovakia, Poland and Austria - with participation of a total of 12,270 children and 2,246 adults. In some towns there was more than one place to spend the Night. Over the course of the evening, night, and morning, 4,203 Andersen fairy tales were read. Group communication was important - a night-long internet chat for children was set up and over 16,000 messages were exchanged.
Where the World Ends
The Where the World Ends project is focused on the development and support of child reading through new ways of working with child readers at the children's departments of public libraries. There are activities such as literary and creative arts contests, courses of creative writing, various drama club activities, and the making of marionettes. Once a year, the best child readers are invited by the country's First Lady to the President's official residence, the Prague Castle.
Read it before Hollywood does
because once the screen adaptation has been shown, you may not recognize the original gem - the novel itself. Under the above slogan, the Association of Library and Information Professionals of the Czech Republic has produced a series of three posters to support reading and advertise library services. The posters evoke the amusing contrast between the classic title (The Old Man and the Sea, Jane Eyre, Crime and Punishment) and the visualization resulting from the Hollywood treatment of the piece. With humour and exaggeration, the posters have been aimed primarily at that segment of the young population who tend towards "fast and passive" culture - TV, cinema, and the Internet. In 2005, the Prague branch of Leo Burnett Advertising won a Silver Lion at the Cannes International Advertising Festival for its graphic design used in the campaign.
Under the project My Book - Search for the Czech population's Most Popular Book, the general public was invited to vote for their favourite book. The survey involved over 450 libraries from all over the country, collecting 93,000 votes from readers. During the voting campaign, the libraries organized dozens of promotional events, while various media covered the survey, making it more popular. The survey had its own web page on which it was possible to find the results as well as lots of other interesting information about reading: http://www.mojekniha.cz/
To promote reading, libraries have also been co-operating with publishers and bookstores. For example, libraries every year collect votes for Readers Survey of the Magnesia Litera literary prize. The prize goes to the most popular Czech fiction book of the previous year. Libraries organize a similar competition among their child readers who seek their own favourite children's book.