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Education Worldwide

Interview with Dr Helga Hofmann

South Tyrolean Reading Forum, Office for Libraries and Reading

March 17, 2009

Dr Helga Hofmann

The framework regulations for primary and general secondary schools in South Tyrol highlight the special role of libraries as a learning sphere. A special training for teachers contributes to anchoring the school library and reading promotion activities in lessons. The Lese Forum Südtirol (South Tyrolean Reading Forum) provides an open platform for sharing projects and networking activities from institutions and organisations engaging in reading promotion. Ms Hofmann considers state-wide projects offering diverse reading activities to be particularly effective and sustainable.

Are there any official educational goals for the promotion of reading in your country?
The state government has by decision determined the framework regulations for the general primary and secondary school curricula. These regulations highlight the special role of libraries as learning spheres and the diversity of the media on offer, the manifold opportunities for designing educational and lesson-related activities are emphasised. These regulations also provide information as to the competence levels the students should attain in the areas of reading and dealing with texts.

IIs reading promotion mainly an element of native-language classes or do you have any explicit classes for reading promotion?
According to the framework regulations for curricula at primary and general secondary schools, the competence area of reading and dealing with texts is not only subject to first language lessons, but it is also integrated into the second language lessons (Italian) and foreign language lessons (English). Furthermore, endeavours are also targeted at training teachers to become ”experts for the school library and reading promotion”, thus focusing on anchoring the school library and reading promotion in lessons and in curricula. To this purpose, we offer training courses for teachers from primary and secondary education on a regular basis.

Do you have any experience concerning the promotion of reading with children from low income families? What kind of measures would you recommend?
We have little experience in promoting reading for children from lower income families. While schools and libraries offer reading promotion projects for this particular target group, no significant findings from evaluative studies exist. We hope that the early years reading promotion project Bookstart – Babies love books, which provides the parents of small children with two book packages and which has reached out to 75 percent of the parents in South Tyrol since 2007, will convince even more families with low incomes to read with their children.

4.Could you please briefly describe the main activities of your organisation?
The Office for Libraries and Reading looks after the South Tyrolean network of libraries (ca. 250 public libraries and 204 school libraries). Its services include state-wide activities in the area of reading promotion (visits of authors, reading prizes, youth literature competitions, large scale projects), further training regarding current topics, for library staff as well as teachers, training courses for “experts for the school library and reading promotion“ ( in collaboration with the Teacher Training Institute) as well as training courses and seminars for library staff working in public libraries.

What mesures in reading promotion conducted by organisations in your country do you consider to be particularly effective?
Projects that are conducted at a state-wide scale, such as the spring reading festival (Lesefrühling 2007) are particularly sustainable: this large-scale reading project lasted four months and it included diverse reading initiatives. Many different institutions from the field of reading promotion took part as well as schools, kindergartens, libraries, youth clubs, museums, senior citizen’s clubs and the media.

Interview: Andrea Steibrecher

Translation: Gwendolyn Schulte

See also: Promoting Reading in Italy