Мировая игра для детей: Задачи библиотечного обслуживания детей
в мире электронной информации и развлечений

Global Playing for Children. Challenges of Children’s Librarianship
in the Electronic World of Information and Amusement

Світова гра для дітей: Завдання бібліотечного обслуговування
дітей в світі електронної інформації та розваг

Биргит Данкерт

Университет прикладных наук, Гамбург, Германия

Birgit Dankert

BDB/FH Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany

Біргіт Данкерт

Університет прикладних наук, Гамбург, Німеччина

Публичные библиотеки должны играть роль посредников между взрослеющей личностью и мировым рынком баз данных, мультимедийных средств и Интернетом. Миссией библиотек является подготовить ребенка к независимому и ответственному пользованию этими средствами. Задачи публичных библиотек определяются следующим образом: приобщения дтей к чтению, обучение "компьютерной грамотности", поддержка самообразования, выполнение библиотекой функций культурного центра, обучение основам библиотечно-информационной работы, развитие социального поведения в рамках использования культурных навыков и информационных технологий. В этом контексте культура чтения рассматривается как базовое требование к сознательному использованию аудиовизуальной и электронной информации. Анализируются понятия культуры чтения и грамотности, определяющие значительную часть библиотечное обслуживание детей.

Public libraries are the right places to act as a mediator between the growing individual and the global offers of databases, Internet and multi-media. Their missions are to prepare children for an independent and responsible use of these options. The tasks of public libraries have been often defined as follows: to bring children up to reading, to teach “media competence”, to support independent learning, to be a cultural center, to offer an introduction to library and information work, to help to develop social behavior in dealing with cultural skills and information technology. In this respect reading culture is regarded as the basic qualification for self-determined use of audio-visual and electronic media. Definitions of reading culture and literacy, which determine large parts of library work for children, are pointed out.

Living space, growth, education of children in all cultural environments used to be very individual, indigenous and connected with local, regional and national habitudes and institutions.

At the same time the new electronic information technology which attracts children enormously gives them the opportunity of global information and amusement, not only additionally but also in contradiction to their authentic conditions and experiences.

Public libraries are the right places to act as a mediator between the growing individual and the global offers of databases, Internet and multi-media. Their present and future missions and functions are to prepare the global data options for children's needs in order to prepare children for an independent and responsible use of these options.

For 150 years children's libraries have been developing their objectives, tasks and services of social and literary education using the medium "book" and the culture of written language and unmoving pictures.

For a long time it has been accepted that – according to children's actual behaviour towards media – non-print materials, AV media and digital media have to be taken into account. There are various suggestions for stock figures: 15 to 30 per cent should be non-book materials, 85 to 70 per cent should be print materials. But these suggestions are – even if they take on- and off-line services into consideration – rather additive and mostly do without radical structural changes in children's libraries.

Their tasks have often been defined – in many regions and countries:

* to bring children up to reading

* to teach "media competence", the skills needed for a competent use of the different types of media

* to support independent learning

* to be a cultural centre

* to offer an introduction to library and information work

* to help develop social behaviour in dealing with cultural skills and information technology.

These tasks are usually satisfied with offers of books and media, events and services for

* different age-groups and educational levels

* single persons and groups (e.g. school classes).

Apart from schools, sports clubs and music schools youth libraries offer the closest-woven network of institutionalized youth culture.

However, the structures of production and contents and operating structures of globally usable, digital offers of multi-media are different from those pursued by children's libraries, schools, sports clubs, and music schools.

At least programmatically the children's library directs itself at a defined catchment area but does not plan any restrictions of social, ethnic or qualitative kind. Floor plans, displays of media, and programmes of events divide library offers and use according to age, curricular or extracurricular interests, and the different levels of literacy. This is combined with the general structures of routine and work in public libraries. On-line offers do not ask for this.

If reading promotion and media competence are central tasks and objectives of the public library, the cultural technique "reading" is to be regarded as the basic qualification for self determined use of AV and electronic media. But only extremely seldom the traditional determinants of reading culture are made out as an obstacle for future-orientated library work for children. In connection with societal communication which is more and more shaped by visual media present definitions of reading culture, which determine large parts of library work for children, have to be questioned.

OECD's current global study "Literacy, Economy and Society" defines four different levels of literacy. It starts with the simple notice of texts and extends to complex reading which sifts out the meaning of the text. The study concludes that nowadays literacy means the ability to sift out the meaning while reading a text. This is mainly about gathering the information or sense from short as well as long texts.

But in the cultural context of individual countries or regions, at a superficially comparable standard of literacy, especially this skill is developed in different degrees. Children's libraries however are especially connected with the standard of literacy in their catchment area.

In the age of information the shapes and functions of reading obviosly change. The ability to sift out the information of a text seems to be far more important in the future than until now. At present there is no medium containing more text than the Internet. Indeed, on- and off-line multi-media require a very special kind of literacy.

A consequence that has not yet been shared by children's libraries has recently been put forward by several academics of communication studies. They want to assign the internationally sanctioned task of reading promotion to computers and give the medium "book", above all fiction of all varieties and contents, back its aesthetic value, its "freedom" so to speak.

The "liberation" of the medium "book" from the pedagogical and social functions at school and in the library strengthens its position in traditional reading societies, either defined by countries or by social levels, but weakens its position in societies where the book is principally comprehended as a vehicle for reading education, special training, and social advancement.

The opposite conclusion though is not valid: According to current knowledge, the use of computers enhances the equality of opportunity for children only where the cultural atmosphere integrates multi-media into a general offer of education, aesthetics, and human care. This sobering but – for libraries – pioneering knowledge is easily verified when looking at the German web-offer for children and young people.

This offer is not orientated towards books or libraries, and it does not know stringent orientation towards age, school age or cultural education – nevertheless (or exactly because of that) the children's acceptance of this offer is growing higher and higher.

For it is not state-subsidised access to the Internet in schools and libraries that characterises the situation (in Germany the use of the Internet is expensive due to comparatively higher call charges than in other countries) but the media, banks, and above all the entertainment industry have chosen the "computer kids" to be their target group.

"Net kids" are regarded as more educated than the average, financially strong, and as tomorrow's informational and consumer elite. Many big companies develop web-sites especially for children as part of their advertising. At the same time new and special offers of info- and entertainment, games, stories, and aesthetic forms are being developed in correspondence with presumable or confirmed specific requirements of children and young people – as in the second half of the 18th century when offers of children's literature were developed.

Typology of web-sites (after Thomas Feibel):

General subjects/digital playgrounds

Kindernetz (Children's net) / Sudwest-Rundfunk (South-west Broadcasting Company)


Chat. e-mail.mailing lists


Search engines/search indexes

Blinde Kuh (Blind man's buff)



Meyers Lexikon (Meyer's Encyclopaedia)


Full texts (fuction)

classic texts (Gutenberg-project)


Individual subjects

sex education (Pro Familia)


Fan club pages (TV series)

Sendung mit der Maus (TV programme for children)


Homework, projects, help for students



School magazines

Links and tips (Jugendmedienzentrum = Youth Media Resource Centre)


Politics/social affairs

Kinderhilfswerk (Children's Relief Organization)


On line magazines, e-zines

for girls: Sabotage


Intentionally, only German Internet offers are mentioned here in order to characterize a national market. Of course, also international offers like the search engine "Yahooligans" or chat programmes like IRC are used. A small minority of regional offers make efforts to reduce the vague internationality and, of course, the predominance of Microsoft.

The target groups for these offers are characterized by

* technical skills

* the acceptance of digital communication in everyday life

* financial flexibility

* the love for experiments

* quality demands

rather than by age, different level of literacy or interest regarding the contents, which is detectable by a traditional science system. Their skills and knowledge and their quality awareness set new standards of library work for children. For, it would be fatal if children's libraries unintentionally contributed to the threatening knowledge gap between a multi-media competent elite and the multi-media consuming majority of the population by employing methods from the age of print media for the options of electronic data transfer.

New territory is broken by

* US Internet programmes which include all the different types of media in their search engines and OPACS

* virtual, multinational "children's libraries" like CHILIAS (one of the co-operative partners is the Stuttart City Library)

* Internet-cafes in youth libraries which are not afraid of admitting the computer aesthetics to the domesticated playgrounds of teddy bears, graffiti, and finger print.

In order to offer the children in the library's clearly defined catchment area access to large data pools, information stores and entertainment markets of the world through

* training in information technology

* special preparation of the ways of information

* combination of books, media, and interactive programmes

This does not mean disorientation or homelessnes. The excursion into the global adventure requires stable continuity and approval at a comprehensible starting point. The anchorage "children's library" is not yet in the prime of its life – this is still to come!


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