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  • Discover Stelline Conference 2024!

    The eagerly awaited appointment of Italian librarians is approaching.

    This year the Stelline Conference presents an important change. Due to renovation work on the ancient palace in Corso Magenta, the conference will be held at Palazzo Lombardia in Piazza Città di Lombardia and at the Valvassori Peroni Library. For their hospitality and cooperation the Biblioteche oggi Association thanks the Directorate General for Culture of Lombardia Region and the Public Library Network of Milan.

    The topic of the 2024 edition is reading and the profound transformations it is undergoing, calling libraries to measure themselves against the paradigm shift and the mutation of its forms  and reading behaviour in the digital ecosystem.

    The subject, which is highly topical from a cultural, librarianship and technological point of view, will be dealt with in its transversality, taking care to grasp the trends that are at the centre of scientific research in this field and at the same time identifying the typological specificities with which it presents itself in the context of public, academic and school libraries respectively.

    The connection of libraries with reading practices is indisputable, foundational and perhaps for this reason taken for granted. Yet in recent years in the reflection on the identity of libraries this connection has not always been valued as a strategic lever. It is curious especially in light of the alarming data on the various forms of illiteracy: functional, returning and emotional, a major problem of our contemporary times. Just when libraries of all kinds could position themselves and propose themselves as a solution to this dramatic problem, their role as enabling agencies in terms of education and promotion of reading seems to be unclear. Perhaps primarily to professionals?

    As a whole, libraries – public, academic, school, historical – should aspire to be the ‘home’, or at least one of the ‘homes’ where the practice of reading is studied, organised, promoted, in order to contribute to improving people’s quality of life. The great and powerful transformations taking place, of library-economic and library models on the one hand, and of reading in the digital environment on the other, therefore call for a wide-ranging, panoramic, interdisciplinary reflection, capable of taking into account both the particularities of the specific information ecosystems and the connective and common elements, with an equally attentive look at the needs of professional practices and the complexity of the principles, methods, and disciplinary traditions on which they are based.

    The aim of the Stelline Conference is to propose a reflection that will be useful in re-founding the relationship between libraries and reading, starting from a debate with an inevitably interdisciplinary slant that focuses on new skills, different reading behaviour with respect to different media and interfaces, and above all the new forms of mediation required of librarians.

    Reading is on the move, far from being a static activity it needs a dynamic infrastructure with great transformative power. Are libraries ready? And are librarians capable of dealing with a concept of mediation that is definitely in flux?

    Another field that the conference intends to explore concerns the new openings that the world of libraries too may derive from the evolution of studies on reading in the field of neuroscience (Wolf, Dehaen, Baron) whose most recent developments have shown that the neurons activated by reading are the same neurons that are activated when we carry out many other activities, some of which have to do with empathy, critical thinking and relations with others. This view of reading can completely change the perspective when looking at libraries, for example by decision makers.

    Nevertheless, the conference will focus on an aspect that is still little researched: in recent years, several studies have been published showing that reading is strongly connected with a good level of well-being and quality of life. What role can libraries play in this perspective?

    Around the theme of the conference, the programme will be articulated in its articulations and sessions, making use once again this year in defining the programme of a participatory process based on the activation of working tables composed of professionals in the sector, a method that was much appreciated in the last edition.

    The plenary session on Wednesday 20th, which will be opened by scientist Maryanne Wolf, will include the participation of scholars from different disciplines who will outline “Scenarios and trends” of the reading phenomenon from a cultural and scientific perspective. On the morning of Thursday 21th, the proceedings will focus on two main sessions, one – “Reinventing the relationship of libraries with reading” – will be opened by Neus Castellano, director of the “Gabriel García Marquez” Library in Barcelona, which in 2023 won the IFLA award as the best library in the world. At the same time, the other main session devoted to “The Numbers of Reading” will be held, which aims to provide an overview of the “consumption” of “paper and digital” reading in libraries using the latest statistical analyses.

    On the afternoons of Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21th March – in the two venues of Palazzo Lombardia and Biblioteca Valvassori Peroni – the programme includes important sessions that will be the result of a co-designing process started a few months earlier.

    The topics on which they will discuss are among the most topical, starting with the more transversal ones devoted to the role of the librarian as educator and trainer of new skills, and continuing with those that will explore the relationship between traditional reading and digital reading, inclusive reading, reading in prison, and the relationship between reading and Artificial Intelligence. Of particular interest are the sessions aimed at public libraries, including those that will deal with the social role of reading, shared reading, new strategies for promoting reading, and the transition from analogue to digital in children’s reading practice. Nevertheless, of great importance are the sessions aimed at the world of academic libraries, which will also play a leading role in the forthcoming Stelline Conference, including those dedicated to new forms of reading for study and research, reading in universities, reading/writing and the Third Mission, and reading literacy: a challenge for academic libraries.

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