Seoul announced that it will be pursuing a pilot project for reading called “Seoul-type Book Start Reading Project” for toddlers 18 months old or less and their caregivers starting in 2019. The project aims to expand the opportunity of enjoying reading culture for toddlers and caregivers who find it inconvenient to go to a library, as well as reinforce the child-rearing support functions of public libraries by providing tailored reading programs and child-rearing information services.
The city of Seoul will support the project costs for each district in proportion to the number of newborn infants over the past year. Each district should formulate and implement the Book Start plans according to its circumstances based on the guidelines for the pilot project presented by the city. The total budget of the Book Start project offered by Seoul amounts to KRW 1.4 billion, which will be distributed to each district in proportion to the number of babies born in the past year.
This attempt will address the imbalance of the Book Start projects offered at the public libraries in each region due to budgetary reasons and rectify inequality for all generations in terms of library services.
While pursuing the pilot project in 2019, the autonomous districts should cooperate with libraries and related organizations and make efforts to increase the participation rate of the targeted toddlers and caregivers. As of July 2019, a total of 1,015 organizations, including 123 public libraries, in 25 autonomous districts will collaborate in distributing a set of books, operating related programs, and advertising.
The city of Seoul will also encourage the operation of child-rearing communities and Book Start volunteer groups in order to provide local caregivers and retirees with the foundation to perform activities in libraries and to assign libraries new roles by utilizing human resources and information from the local community.
Seoul City will organize and operate a working council of autonomous districts and a TF team comprised of library officials and infant experts. At the end of the year, the city will deduce a Seoul-type Book Start project model by analyzing the current state and outcomes of the pilot projects of the autonomous districts and assessing the achievement.
Panorama of Seoul Metropolitan Library