Developing Readers: The Crisis of Reading in Morocco and Recent Initiatives to Promote Reading

AHMED, Sumayya (2014) Developing Readers: The Crisis of Reading in Morocco and Recent Initiatives to Promote Reading. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2014 - Lyon - Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge in Session 189 - Access to Information Network - Africa (ATINA) Special Interest Group. In: IFLA WLIC 2014, 16-22 August 2014, Lyon, France.

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Language: English (Original)
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Abstract

Developing Readers: The Crisis of Reading in Morocco and Recent Initiatives to Promote Reading

The fact that Moroccan “libraries and archives are well-positioned to serve scholars” (Moulaison 2008) belies the reality that, as one representative of the Ministry of Culture explained, there is a “crisis of reading” in the North African Kingdom. The crisis, while related to relatively high levels of illiteracy in the country, is not likely to be solved by the literacy campaigns launched by the Moroccan government in recent decades. The 2007 survey conducted by the Next Page Foundation, “What Arabs Read” found that approximately 51% of Moroccans were “non-readers,” having read neither a newspaper, nor book nor magazine in the 12 months before being surveyed. Non-readers were not illiterate, but people who “used to read” and nearly 70% of non-readers had never visited a library. Several indigenous initiatives are seeking to (re)awaken a culture of reading in Morocco. This paper looks at how Yalla Nkraw (Let’s Read), which provides spaces for reading and books to the general public; Bibliotram, a project which offers free reading materials on Casablanca’s tramways; La Caravan du Livre (The Book Caravan), a project that encourages reading in rural areas through festive workshops and book giveaways, Initiative la Lecture pour Tous (The Reading for All Initiative),a project to support and promote reading in public, Ktabi Ktabek (My Book is Your Book), a project to build mini libraries in neighbourhoods across Morocco, and The Reading Network of Morocco (Réseau de la lecture au Maroc), a pro-reading advocacy group, all promote reading as a crucial part of social and cultural development.

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