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Learning with the Library: The Lese-Nana-project in Dornbirn

Nature of the project

Three years ago, Dornbirn City Library started the Lese-Nana-project. Lese-Nanas and Nänes are ardent volunteers, women as well as men, that regularly read to kids in daycares, kindergartens and schools. Storytime takes about half an hour and besides the reading of the story itself it can also includenursery rhymes and fingerplays, songs, picture book cinemas, games for speech acquisition as well as craft projects.

The project was initiated by a member of another one of the city library´s adult education programs: the creative writing class. She said that she would be interested in sharing her love of books and storytelling with children and asked the library staff, if we could imagine organising a project for adult volunteers that want to read to children. This was the start for the Lese-Nanas.


Educating the volunteers

The volunteers receive training in the library. New volunteers get taught how to select books, how to create an atmosphere that supports reading, how to articulate and intonate words as well as how to structure the reading time, how to keep the children interested, how to use props to make the story more exciting and how to spark the kids´ imagination by talking about the books after reading or by doing crafts. One of the volunteers took over the coordination of the project. She looks for new Lese-Nanas and Lese-Nänes, partners them up with the institutions and joins them for the first few storytelling hours at the institutions. She also documents the project, markets it to the public and organises a yearly Lese-Nana-day at the library. Dornbirn City Library helps with the selection of books and provides props as well as ideas and materials for crafts. It also hosts regular meetings for the Lese-Nanas where they can exchange ideas and talk about their troubles and achievements. The volunteers told us that these meetings are very helpful to them and that the feedback and input they get there is of great value.


Current status and benefits of the project

Currently, there are 12 volunteers –11 women and one man. In the beginning, the project was aimed at people in retirement, but more and more people that are still in the working force are joining up.

So far, the Lese-Nana-project has been a total success. Not only do the volunteers enjoy reading to the children, but they also learn with and from each other. They see the benefits in their private lives as well.

“I enjoy using literature to pick up kids from wherever they may be. You can fascinate them and give them something to think, laugh and ponder about. Books enrich children´s imagination and it´s a pleasure to see how much fun they have and how focused they are. As a Lese-Nana, this is a gift to yourself. The meetings, where we exchange our experiences, are always interesting and we get a lot of input from each other. The trainings are a personal gain as well – you get a lot of ideas and you keep learning new things. How wonderful, that this program exists!“ (Statement from one of the Lese-Nanas)

For the nursery schools, preschools and schools, the Lese-Nanas are a welcome change in their daily routine. With time, the children develop an attachment to their resident Lese-Nana or Lese-Näne and look very much forward to his or her visit. Because of that, they see storytime as a special treat and not as a chore. For the library itself, the program has also been a success as it strengthens the volunteers´ as well as the participating Schools´, Kindergartens´ and daycares´ ties to the library, thus helping the library to position itself in the middle of the community.




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