Tallinn Central Library wins prize for online reading initiative

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Children being read to online by a librarian. Source: Tallinna keskraamatukogu

Tallinn Central Library has won an award for an initiative which sees librarians read books to children over the internet, helping parents when they need to work from home.

The library's initiative "Loeme ette!" ("Let's read for them!") won the European Parliament's European Citizens Prize 2020.

The award is given to projects which promote better mutual understanding and closer integration between citizens of the Member States or facilitating cross-border or transnational cooperation within the European Union. This year, particular attention was paid to projects related to tackling the problems caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Since March, when the emergency situation started, librarians have read books to children by phone and online, via Skype or Facebook, to help parents while they work from home. Individual lessons help children read at their level and maintain their interest in books.

Additionally, children practice reading with the librarian, talking about their day or draw while listening to the reading. In December, children were able to call the librarian-elf and practice reading to Santa.  

Chief specialist of children's services at Tallinn Central Library Merle Tanilsoo said: "All librarians love to recommend literature to children and talk to them about books. Behind closed doors, the only possible solution was to do it over the phone or better yet - via a video link, so that we could also show books to children. We are very happy to be able to support many families in this way."

The project was initially only supposed to last until May but was so popular it has continued.

In addition to the reading project, the library also launched several other initiatives during the pandemic which have been popular. These include reading newspapers to the elderly over the phone or online to reduce lonliness, advising children with school work and discussing literature with young people.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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