February 2, 2021

    Systematic kicks off hunt for world's best reading project

    The software company Systematic is again presenting the Systematic Joy of Reading Award in 2021, and is now inviting applications from reading projects that make a real difference in the battle against illiteracy.

    When the international library conference Next Library® 2021 is held on 3 June, the Systematic Joy of Reading Award, which comes with a prize of USD 10,000, will be presented to the best reading project among all the nominated projects that have been submitted from all over the world. What all the candidates have in common is that they have used innovative methods to spread the joy of reading and combat illiteracy. Previously, projects with travelling reading sofas, reading buddies, reading camps and TukTuks loaded with books have been nominated.

    “The Systematic Joy of Reading Award is our way of supporting the important role played by literature and storytelling. In many parts of the world, there are children and adults who can only dream of learning to read. In presenting the award, we are focusing on the important task which many of the reading projects perform, so that more people have the possibility of expanding their horizons and increasing their knowledge by exploring the world of literature”, says Martin Brøchner-Mortensen from Systematic.

    When the award was last presented in 2019, it went to the South African reading project Nal’ibali – Reading for Enjoyment Campaign, which sets up reading clubs and distributes material in all 11 of the country’s official languages. The prize of USD 10,000 which accompanies the Joy of Reading Award was spent on buying books and materials, which are distributed from small mobile libraries in those parts of South Africa where illiteracy is particularly widespread.

    International library conference and award ceremony being held online
    The Systematic Joy of Reading Award is being presented in collaboration with Aarhus Public Libraries at Next Library, a community of library professionals, innovators and decision-makers from all over the world who meet every other year in Aarhus in an international forum to discuss libraries and support learning in the 21st century.

    The Next Library conference was scheduled to take place at DOKK1 in Aarhus from 29 May to 2 June, but due to the global pandemic, the conference and the award ceremony are being rethought, with more resources being channelled into a virtual track. This might bring unexpected benefits, according to Marie Østergaard, Library Director at Aarhus Public Libraries and responsible for Next Library:

    “Normally, the conference attracts 350 participants from 35-42 countries. It’s important for us to keep it small, but it also means that tickets sell out quickly, and many people are left feeling disappointed. We’ve also been hearing from international participants, who find it hard to raise the money to travel here to participate, and against this background we’re now trying to create an online format so that more people can join in. At the same time, we’re expecting the online format to raise awareness of the Systematic Joy of Reading Award and the various reading projects which are being run in different parts of the world. The projects have also needed to think out of the box and adopt new approaches to reaching and infusing children and adults with the joy of reading during the pandemic,” she says.

    President of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), Christine Mackenzie, will present the award virtually to the winner.

    The deadline for submitting reading projects for the award is 15 March 2021.

    About the Systematic Joy of Reading Award
    The Systematic Joy of Reading Award is an international award founded by the software company Systematic in collaboration with Aarhus Public Libraries, and is presented every other year at the international Next Library conference in Aarhus. The award is given to a project which is working innovatively to combat illiteracy, and which focuses on the individual’s love of reading and their reading skills. The award comes with a prize of USD 10,000.

    To be considered for the award, the project must have been running for at least two years, and the project must be able to document how many people it has impacted.

    An international jury of literature, teaching and library professionals will assess the submissions, choose the nominees and select the final winner, which will be announced at the international Next Library conference.

    The jury: 

    • Marian Morgan-Bindon, freelance librarian and long-standing IFLA Australia member. Chair of the Systematic Joy of Reading Award
    • Kirsten Boelt, Library Director, Aalborg Public Libraries, Aalborg, Denmark
    • Magdeline Mooketsi, librarian, Gaborone Public Library, Botswana
    • Sanjana Shrestha, Executive Director, READ Global
    • Stacie Ledden, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Anythink Libraries, Denver, USA 
    • Martin Brøchner-Mortensen, Group Senior Vice President, Systematic, Denmark

    Read more about the Systematic Joy of Reading Award here.