Wednesday, September 06, 2006

singapore and the september project

[crossposted from the september project blog]

there is something quite exciting about collaborating with singapore's national library board (or NLB).

for the third straight year, NLB libraries will participate in the september project. this year, all 22 singaporean public libraries, which includes both regional libraries and community libraries, have joined the project. in other words, the september project can be found across the whole country!

for over two years, sarah and i have corresponded and collaborated with ivan chew, a librarian with NLB, an internationally known blogger, and an extremely creative thinker. in 2004, ivan put together a pictures of peace contest for library patrons. in 2005, ivan worked with beverly holmes hughes at sugar grove public library in illinois to have a live cross-country chat between youth on september 11.

this year, the project grows. organized by wei lin (NLB's adult & young peoples' services librarian), julian lim (youth portal manager of Youth.SG), and ivan, their september project events ask youth to express themselves:
Here in Singapore, the NLB wants you think write about literacy or peace or how literacy can bring about peace. If you’re not good with words, use any medium you are comfortable with to spread the message. Selected entries will be shared digitally with an international audience. The Top 3 entries will stand to win attractive NLB limited edition collectibles!
(they have even designed a great poster for the event.)

Youth.SG, a blog for singapore youth, will host much of the creative content (and already have begun to generate fascinating posts) and we here at the september project blog will also showcase some of the work of the youth.

this project really excites me for many reasons. here's a few:
  1. too often, adults ask youth to create - but we ask them to create within a narrow set of media, usually a written essay. wei, julian, and ivan are way ahead of us - they smartly encourage youth to express themselves in the medium of their choosing: they can post to their blogs, upload to youtube, or send NLB the url of a web site; they can design digital artifacts like jpegs, 3G mobile phone clips, or MP3s; they can write on postcards, paper, scrapes of paper, or anything that can be digitally scanned or photographed. bravo!

  2. september project events are local events - they are civic events, usually hosted by a public, academic, or school library, that address an issue or set of issues relevant to that particular community, town, or city. what NLB is doing, however, is national. this year's events in singapore represent, i believe, the first attempt to organize september project events on a national level. the fact that this is happening in singapore is a factor of the geographic size of the country. yet another - and more important - factor seems to be that NLB is an effective, creative, and flexible library system.

  3. i think it's great that the focus of the events is global. NLB's events encourage youth to express their own feelings and ideas about topics that transcend national borders. it seems to me that imagination is what's needed most these days and when youth are encouraged to imagine - and to imagine across borders - positive things happen.
sarah and i have never met ivan, wei, and julian - but it sure is nice to call them friends and collaborators. i look forward to the day when we get to meet face to face.

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