Publishers & Libraries – Creating Literacy and Reading Culture

FICCI organised a Round Table Session on “Publishers & Libraries – Creating Literacy & Reading Culture” during the “Festival of Libraries”, which was organised by the Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India on August 6, 2023, at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. A report.

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India has a long and rich history of libraries dating back to the ancient times. The country has seen an increase in library establishments and publishing houses over the past few decades. Publishers and Libraries have their own role and importance in creating the reading culture and promoting literacy. Together they play important role in inculcating learning, providing information, promoting culture, and developing well informed knowledge-based society.

The session explored the opportunities for both Publishers and Libraries to mutually leverage respective strength and work in tandem towards the cause of Literacy and Reading Culture.

Session…

The discussion started by identifying the following four pillars for raising readers: Access, Choice, Involvement and Practice. The group discussed each element keeping the four pillars in mind.

Publishers are like the gatekeepers of knowledge for the world. They ensure that quality content reaches the appropriate readers. Following steps taken by publishers could be helpful to raise readers in the country:

  • Publishers can work towards publishing good quality books of different genres. The books can be made available through various online channels and schools. Publishers should get some grants and subsidies on the materials to facilitate printing of more and more books for kids as young as 1-year olds.
  • Publishers could interact with their hyperlocal libraries to ensure their latest books are represented there.
  • They should also plan weekly or monthly interactions with their authors at local libraries to create an excitement in the hearts of young readers, so that they look up at writers with stars in their eyes, just like they look up to sportsmen and film stars.
  • Publishers should be aware of about reader’s current demands and convey this to authors. They should conduct surveys in libraries, schools,colleges, and other related places from time to time for better understanding.
  • Publishers should use attractive/aggressive publicity and marketing policy for their products.
  • Publishers should create read aloud and storytelling assets that can be used in the libraries.

While, libraries (both physical and digital) play a crucial role in making the world’s knowledge accessible to people across all walks of life and across all fields. Following steps taken by libraries could be helpful to raise readers in the country:

  • Selection of books for a library especially for young kids needs a lot more attention and Librarians should be trained to do so.
  • Libraries should also create awareness among parents and teachers to create a perfect environment for reading, at home and in school.
  • Libraries must pay attention to curating a collection of books that is wide-ranging and freely available for issue and reading.
  • Libraries should emerge as community hubs / community spaces that promote discussion and dialogue through events specially curated for children.
  • Public / Community libraries could tie up with schools to encourage children in primary, middle, and high schools to come more frequently to the library.
  • Librarians should always be aware of readers’ demands and interests and accordingly develop reader specific spaces inside the library.
  • Libraries could initiate some encouraging steps like “Best reader Award” etc. with the support of local NGOs to promote readership.
  • Libraries can conduct Interactive programs with members of public by:
  • Organising reading festivals
  • Varied membership plans such as subsidized plans for readers in regional languages, for young readers (up to 16 years of age), etc.
  • Public libraries’ immediate requirement is to update their collection and add e-contents with the present print collection.
  • Current global trend of libraries has been completely changed but unfortunately most of the Indian libraries are working with outdated traditional pattern. This situation needs to change, as without libraries’ rejuvenation, the overall objective of raising readers cannot be fulfilled.

Publishers and libraries need to recognize their shared responsibility to perpetuate the distribution of knowledge to readers. The libraries and publishers should collectively organize such programs and activities that could help to build and inculcate reading habits, such as awareness campaign, book fair, book exhibition, interaction with the parents, authors Talk, seminars, workshops, engagement with non- governmental organizations, debate, storytelling, book review, drama, reading/writing/essay competitions, etc.

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