written by Anna Pöyhönen
Children and youth library services in Espoo revolve around the love of stories. Reading is a big part of this and book borrowing is on the rise, however, the services include much more. For the youngest library patrons, we organize story times in various languages, and nursery school groups and families flock these events in numbers. We also organize media educational sessions for preschool groups. At the same time, we welcome stay-at-home-parents to come to the library to find books, meet each other and let their offspring enjoy the company of peers in safe play areas. One of our library branches in Iso Omena even operates in a shared space with a child health clinic for optimal reach and easy access.
Our libraries work with basic education to support reading with approachable book talks and media skills with various workshops. We offer literature classes on timely and appropriate literature to school classes of all ages. First graders get a special treatment, with a visit to the library, instruction on how to use the library with their own personal library card and a complimentary book for each child to keep. A special effort is also spent on getting all third-graders to visit a library and find their individual appetite for stories. Helmet Libraries have begun to offer a new playful library card design for children, but some adults have requested to the happy-looking card just as gladly.
Real life media and social skills are also approached with various workshops, from book trailers to social media skills, tackling multiple media and following timely phenomena. For example, bullying is discussed on a mobile bus tours for third and seventh-graders – all through the use of literature and stories. Similarly, we offer another tour of sexual education for teens with literature as an integral component. The workshops are offered at the local library or on a mobile library bus that brings the content to the school. The focus is on the skills to understand others through different channels of information, express their own experiences and actively participate in their contexts.
Children and teens populate the libraries in their free time as well, because the space and services are welcoming and inclusive. If simply enjoying the space with friends or with a good book isn’t enough, our libraries offer democratic access to hobbies and fandom activities through film nights, gaming, crafts and other club activities on a regular basis or through hundreds of separate events. The encounters in these events and services always include safe adults who invest time and attention to the quality of each service and meeting.
Espoo city library’s children and youth services are built on the idea of a safe place to spend time, grow and participate. We work together with families, schools, youth work and others to provide what is needed or wanted at all times – free of charge. We respect our young library patrons as passionate and creative individuals with their own relationship to stories and libraries.
Patrons define how they wish to use their library and we listen, because our young patrons deserve the best.