Center of Educational Technologies

Library as an Environment for Poly-cultural Education and Introduction of Children to a Culture of Peace

V. P. Chudinova,
MSc in Pedagogy, Chief Expert,
Russian State Children’s Library

The changes that the coming 21st century is bringing with it may affect all spheres of man’s life and man’s world-views. They may affect children and youth more than anyone else may. The coming of globalization and formation of a new informational and multicultural world dictate the reconsideration of old and the development of new concepts of education and upbringing of young citizens. In the development of these new approaches, take part, besides teachers, specialists of various fields of knowledge.

One of social institutions traditionally having a significant role in familiarizing children and young people with the values of culture is children library. In Russia, libraries, particularly important in regions, small towns, settlements, villages, provide the population access to many kind of literature. The greater part of readers of libraries are children, teenagers, young people. First of all, it is connected with the continuing reform of education that brought about a sharp afflux of these groups of readers to libraries. The enforcement of educational and 'socializing3 function of libraries is the reality of the present day in Russia.

At the same time, a traditionally library' as a social institution reflects in its fund a certain cultural model n that of book culture of the world and the country7 where it is located. Already since the beginning of the century, since establishment and development of children libraries, the criteria of literature selection into their funds have been based on the opinions of librarians, according to which children were to be given the best and most interesting of the world and domestic culture. And these ideas of librarians were based upon traditions of humanism and enlightenment. That is why in Russia the public library and especially the specialized children library have always been natural environment where о an individual became more socialized with the aid of classical, world, and children literature. Even in the Soviet period when libraries were to have in their funds books on political propaganda, the world classics always gave different models of a polycultural world.

Today this model is changing. It is being renewed, formed of not only book but also non-book materials (video and audio materials, multimedia, etc.). Inclusion of libraries as centers of information into global information networks, allows them to give their readers more and new kinds of services, giving the opportunity to receive information from different sources throughout the world. At the same time, this sets them new problems and tasks, among which is the task to become pilots3, navigators in the cybernetic space.

For those librarians who work with children this role is becoming very important. Selection of such information for children, which serves the purposes of their education and upbringing, is becoming still more important task. Via diversified literature of countries and nations of the world children and teenagers, obtain an opportunity to familiarize themselves with different countries and nations. Today, in the period when the ideas and concepts of the a culture of peace, of polycultural education find more and more adherents among teachers and educators, libraries become to be in greater and greater demand.

We see a number of directions in the libraries! work which one way or another support the ideas being developed by UNESCO in the concept of a culture of peace. Among them we can single out such directions as: children’s familiarization with children literature of different countries and nations of the world, their acquisition of fundamentals of the culture of reading and improvement of their general culture and erudition; additional familiarization with traditions and literature of different countries ('regional geography3 in libraries); familiarization with culture and history of children’s native land (work of libraries along the 'study of local lore3 line; collection of this type of information and education of local population, arranging of folklore festivals and so on), which contributes not only to the education but also to formation of childish feeling of identity with native culture; legal education of children with the aid of literature; education of children and parents in the aspect of human rights and rights of child; creation in the libraries humane atmosphere oriented towards children and teenagers, of the environment which quite often serves as an asylum, an alternative and protection from aggression of surrounding world.

Libraries could do better in this direction as they learn more about UNESCO concepts and projects. They are the most available free institutions in Russia, and, as such, can offer an amiable environment for promoting a culture of peace and non-violence. They could be of much help and be in demand of not only children and parents but also of those who develop this direction n teachers, educators and other specialists in this field, as well as children and parents.

Source: Молодежь России перед лицом глобальных вызовов на рубеже веков (Как противостоять агрессивному экстремизму, ксенофобии и насилию среди молодежи) : Материалы Международной конференции, 18–19 ноября 2000 г., Москва, Россия / под научной и общей редакцией И. М. Ильинского. Перевод на англ. яз. М., 2001. С. 258–261. ISBN 5-85085-643-9.