Library programs supporting Roma children in Croatia
22 December 2021
Ida Gašpar, Danijela Petrić and Jasminka Vajzović
Fran Galovic Koprivnica Public Library, Croatia
Fran Galovic Koprivnica Public Library has been implementing socially inclusive services for children and youth for many years under the motto “Library Accessible to All – a Library for All”. The main goals of these services are equal inclusion of all people in the local community and sensitization of the local population to the needs of the socially marginalized people. All our socially inclusive services and programs are organized for people with disabilities, especially those who cannot read the standard press, and for Roma people.
From 2007 the collection of children’s books on Roma languages for children, their parents and teachers is accessible in the Library Children’s Department. Due to the inaccessible terrain of the school, where there is a big population of Roma children, the Mobile Library Service provided a small library collection with children’s books. The library also organized workshops for children with basic computer and information literacy lessons for which we received the EIFL award. The library occasionally organizes creative workshops about Roma culture with the aim of sensitizing other children to the difficulties Roma children face in their lives. Occasionally, in the past few years, storytelling and robotics workshops are organized and in this article we are also mentioning programs organized during pandemic COVID 19 .
Robotic workshops took place in a common creative space – Makerspace, where the world of robotics and programming is introduced to kids. Through workshops they can get initial coding and programming skills and use technology they may not have the opportunity to use every day. Roma children especially don’t have these opportunities so we organize workshops in association with the Community Assistance Center Svitanje. During these workshops children meet mBot robot, BBC micro: bit pocket computer, BOSON sets and 3D printer. Interactive digital platform Izradi is also presented. It is implemented by the Institute for Youth Development and Innovation that donates robotic equipment to libraries in Croatia and nearby countries.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the same participants from Community Assistance Center Svitanje participated in the online storytelling Mythical Creatures – Digital Story when digital picture book were presented to them: Čarobnjak Gordon (Wizard Gordon), Slavko na viteškom turniru (Slavko at the Knights’ Tournament), Grad u koprivama (City in Nettles), Div Leđan (Giant Leđan) and Dravski vilenjak (River Drava Elf). After reading the stories and a short conversation, a creative workshop followed.
During one of the storytelling sessions, the children enjoyed listening to the story A horse that had an unpleasant smell by Dijana Merey Sarajlija, and then participated in a collage workshop. On April 23, the Earth Day was marked with children listening to the story of a little girl, Sofia, who wanted to change her city for the better. By using waste in creative work, users have learned from their own example how we can reuse old things and get new things. The workshop also symbolically marked Earth Day. Roma Children were also active in online presentation of the new application Mythical Creatures – Digital Story. The application was published by the Fran Galovic Koprivnica Public Library Through the animation and interaction of stories, kids can meet the mythological creatures and explore the Podravina region in a fun way. This app is based on picture books mentioned in the previous paragraph. . The main character of the story is the wizard Gordon who travels around Podravina and goes through many adventures. The app is available on Google Play, searchable in Croatian term Mitska bića –digitalna priča.