On November 21-25, 2022, the training of the “Erasmus+” project “Dungeons and Librarians: the Quest for Gamified Reading” for specialists from the public libraries of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Bulgaria took place in Šiauliai county Povilas Višinskis public library.

Reading promotion is one of the most important elements of non-formal education in libraries. The benefits of reading for a young person are obvious: young people, especially teenagers, who read various literature for pleasure, prepare themselves for adult life, relationships, understand basic human values, cultural identity and other aspects that help them to move from childhood to the adult world. However, the old methods of promoting reading are beginning to fail to keep up with the changing needs of users, and there is a noticeable lack of new, non-traditional initiatives. To help modernize and renew the practice of reading promotion initiatives in libraries using an innovative gamification method – this was the purpose of the week-long “Erasmus+” project “Dungeons and Librarians: the Quest for Gamified Reading” of Šiauliai county Povilas Višinskis public library. Specialists responsible for youth activities in their libraries or those who plan to work with young people in the future participated in the training.

Project manager Gintautas Jazdauskas emphasized that the project aimed to create inclusive and effective reading promotion initiatives, ideas for projects and other activities mainly focused on young people in libraries, using as many gamification methods and examples of good practice as possible. The activities of library specialists were divided into two parts for the entire five days. The first was familiarization with good examples of gamification practices and testing them in practice, performing various tasks. Some of these tasks were theoretically and practically helped by professional lecturers Romanas Šarpanovas and Laimonas Ragauskas. As the organizers revealed, the most important thing was that the training participants learnt to identify the needs of the target audience and look innovatively at the possible ways of meeting those needs.

The second part of the training consisted of working in groups. By the end of the week, each group, applying the knowledge gained during the training, had to prepare one initiative/project based on the promotion of reading through gamification. The results presented on the last day of the training were surprising in their variety and ingenuity: interactive reading bingo, literary memes, treasure hunts in the library, a secret intriguing reading club for introverts and even an escape room. All the initiatives created had a unique approach to the problem of reading promotion and offered an effective way to solve it.

Library professionals who participated in the training acknowledged that although there is a need to encourage users to read more, the problem is often how to present it in an attractive way, and traditional means such as reading clubs and reading campaigns no longer work. The librarians from Bulgaria revealed that during five days full of various activities, they looked at the possibilities of promoting reading in a completely different way. They noticed that gamification of activities opens up new spaces of self-expression for both librarians and readers. Presenting book reading as part of a fun and engaging game gives hope that young users, especially teenagers, who spend less time reading books, will rekindle their interest in reading and libraries.

The project is funded by the “Erasmus+“ program.

Photos by I. Slonksnytė and T. Pauliuščenka