There were nearly 60 booths exhibiting innovative services at Ukrainian libraries at the recent Innovation Fair, hosted at Ukrainsky Dim in April. All of the participants had the opportunity to vote on their favorite booths, and a jury chose winners in six categories. One of those winners was Lviv Oblast Library for Children, with their bibliotherapy project called, “Ark.” I talked to the librarians from Lviv at the fair, and was impressed by their creativity and drive to showcase their exciting new services.
Bibliotherapy is based on using books and poetry to address issues in individual’s lives. In Lviv, the library wanted to make the library a welcoming place for children experiencing problems like anxiety, family issues or illness, or misunderstandings with friends. The library works closely with a local group home for children and Caritas, a charitable organization, to support these children through books, training on internet safety, and creating a place where they can feel safe and comforted.
The library holds weekly activities: children come for computer training, group discussions with a psychologist, and individual consulting. Seven kids come at a time, and while there they have the chance to write in a diary, which is read and commented on by a psychologist who volunteers his time so they get individual feedback. Librarians have worked with professor Bronislava Paruzel, a leading expert in the field, to learn about bibliotherapy. Now, a publishing house has become a partner for the project and is publishing a series of bibliotheraputic fairytales for children.
I was inspired by my conversations with these librarians and think this is a great example of how libraries can combine traditional services like reader’s advisory with modern needs for digital literacy while helping a vulnerable population. The motto of the project sums up their philosophy: The book will protect, the computer will help, the library will comfort.
Check out the Lviv Children’s Library at http://lodb.org.ua/