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Paula

Paula KELLY

Year of Award: 2008 Award State: Victoria Education > General
To investigate international reading programs that support the development of readers and focus on reading as a vital and creative activity throughout life - UK, Croatia, France, Denmark, Netherlands, Singapore, USA
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Paula Kelly believes in the power of reading to change lives. In 2008, Paula, from Victoria, visited Europe and the United States to study reader development and discovered some enlightening ideas. She visited international reading programs that support the development of readers and focus on reading as a vital and creative activity throughout life.

After her travels, Paula recommended that Australia, like the countries she visited, should have a national body to promote reading for all ages with a focus on the reader and a strategic plan to get and keep Australians reading for pleasure. With her energy and resourcefulness she helped to establish Australia’s first Children’s Laureate program and helped to scope the successful bid for Australia’s first National Year of Reading, in 2012. The organisers of the National Year of Reading claim that 46 per cent of Australians struggle with the literacy skills necessary to read a newspaper, a menu, a timetable or the label on a medicine bottle.

On her travels overseas, Paula discovered some effective programs and strategies to get more people reading. In the United States and United Kingdom there are organisations that focus squarely on engaging the hard-to-reach. In Edinburgh, the United Nations City of Literature, people are engaged through literary tours, reading campaigns and creative strategies to get the whole city to read the same book in different formats.

The Australian library system is an important part of our communities. Despite funding cuts and a continuing fight for the rights of people to gain the benefit of the educational opportunities that they make available, Australian libraries survive and some are thriving. Paula Kelly’s discoveries enriched the Victorian State Library where she worked at the time. As Reader Development and Offsite Programs Manager there, she was in a key position to effect positive changes influenced by some of the success stories she witnessed abroad.

Since 2013 Paula has been Manager of the City of Melbourne Library Service. She is also studying for a PhD at the University of Melbourne on early literacy and disadvantaged families, continuing with consultancy work with the State Library, and lecturing at the University of Melbourne as Subject Coordinator for the Masters of Education-Early Childhood Course. 

Excerpt from “Inspiring Australians” written by Penny Hanley (2015)

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