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Nordic Culture Point project in Lithuania

The art of storytelling is reborn in libraries in Panevėžys County. 

Report from the closing conference 31 May 2022

Participants of the final conference of the project “Presentation of the Narrative Art and Method Model to Lithuanian Libraries”

On initiative of the Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė Public Library of Panevėžys County, the art of storytelling is being reborn in libraries, and a network of storytelling libraries is being created. There are 24 libraries in the Panevėžys region, a community of 40 librarians, 5 new educational programs for children, youth and adults. All this has been achieved with the Swedish and Norwegian partners Nordic Storytelling Centre in Skellefteå and Fortellerhuset in Oslo. The process and implementation of the project “Development of a Narrative Art and Method Model for Lithuanian Libraries”, the activities and results of this project were discussed at an international closing conference in Panevėžys.

“Storytelling is a great way for libraries to connect with local communities. Narrative-based educational activities engage, open up the imagination, create a safe space for self-expression. By listening to stories we get to know literature, the world and ourselves, we learn. I hope that our project will continue – it will open many new beginnings, and the emerging network of storytelling libraries will strengthen and expand throughout the country, ”says Jurgita Bugailiškienė, Director of Gabrielė Petkevičaitė-Bitė Public Library.

“The idea of ​​the project was to increase the quality and diversity of education by using literature in libraries. The art of storytelling, although as old as the world itself, is little known in Lithuania, therefore we used partners from the Nordic countries. Of particular importance was the libraries’ interest in this initiative. I’m glad it succeeded. The librarians participating in the project have acquired the necessary competencies and have already completed 100 programs. The success of the project is evidenced by the good feedback from libraries and Swedish and Norwegian partners,”says Laima Butkūnienė, project coordinator of the Strategic Development Division of the Regional Libraries.

The partnership

Nordic Storytelling Centre in Skellefteå, Rose-Marie Lindfors Storyteller and trainer.  In the project I represent the Nordic Storytelling Centre in Skellefteå, Sweden. For the last 35 years I have been working with Storytelling, drama, creative arts and development processes in schools, libraries, art clubs, festivals, learning centers and Universities. I have a large collection of stories from the whole world, which I can tell. I facilitate workshops and trainings in:

▪ Storytelling and drama as performing art
▪ Applied storytelling – as a tool for learning, social inclusion and sustainability.
▪ Innovation and entrepreneurship.

I run my own company where I inspire, develop, educate and teach. I am a dedicated networker and work both nationally and internationally. Interested in intercultural development and diversity in society.

Fortellerhuset Oslo Tiril Bryn Storyteller: Through the art of storytelling I ask questions about: Our relation to nature, identity, cultural heritage, indigenous traditions, science and mythology. What kind of stories are important in our time? My work as a storyteller is about producing and touring with storytelling performances, cooperation with artists from different fields and storytelling workshops – about improving storytelling skills or about creating new stories. I work with projects outdoors – urban nature and sustainability. In my experience stories and the way we tell them can change and adjust the way we experience life and how we deal with challenges. I have studied storytelling at OsloMet, have a masters degree in cultural heritage where I compared Japanese and Norwegian fairy tales from University in Oslo and have previously worked as a journalist. Member of Fortellerhuset, a group of storytellers in Norway.  

The method used during the 5 day workshop. The competence model Storytelling in 8 colours that gave everyone a good practical and theoretical base that was useful during the process.

We wanted to share the competences that Storytellers use. This is the competence model, that gives a good picture of what competences you need as a Storyteller. You can find more information on this model at: https://fest-network.eu/research/a-competence-model-for-oral-storytelling/

We also provided the competences for applied storytelling:

  • Master storytelling techniques
  • Define target groups, needs and goals
  • Supporting group dynamics and learning process
  • Evaluate projects

We presented the idea of creating 5 BOXES

Box nr 1 Folktale + Life story

Box nr 2 Folktale outside

Box nr 3 Create a new story together

Box nr 4 Folktale + rhythm, songs …

Box nr 5 Silent Books – find the stories from the books

Day 1 and 2: everyone worked together as one big group, each participant got everything they needed, all exercises had a connection to what they were going to do during day 3 and 4, theory and practice, hand in hand.

Day 3 and 4 participants working in 5 groups, working on their own, to create a storytelling program, and fill the box.

Presentation of the 5 programs in the evening of day 4

Day 5 summarizing, reflections, evaluation and questions.

Tiril and Rose-Marie were tutoring and guiding each group during the process making sure participants could find their own way of presenting the programs. Every person had their own unique program. Every person was prepared to present their program during the last evening, we had a lottery and 5 people were selected to show their program.

We celebrated everyone, as they had all done a great job, and were all winners.

A new journey had started in Panevezys ….

Then Tiril and Rose-Marie went back to Norway and Sweden and the librarians started to work on their programs and the boxes were created by Neringa Minkevičienė.

Visit to Skelleftea on 16–19 May, 2022

The Story boxes and the method was presented for librarians in the Region of Västerbotten, libarys in Skellefteå and for the Nordic Storytelling Centre during 4 days I May. The 5 boxes, filled with inspiring material and props was in the room, and it was like Christmas when the boxes were opened. The smell of wood, seeds and flowers. The soft touch of stones, flutes and clay birds. The surprise when a yellow bag became the illustration from a Silent Book. The rich content of the boxes and the possibilities that is hidden inside them, that you can create so much from them. So many stories can be told from them.

There were programs in the new library at Sara Culture House and in Jörn.

I am so grateful to be a part of the creation of these stories and boxes.

What is the vision for expanding the network of storytelling libraries in Lithuania

  • New projects in cooperation with foreign partners, new activities, tools, methods
  • Ensuring accessibility for all audiences (children, adults, teachers …)
  • Space for meetings, contacts, experience sharing
  • Attributes – logo, certificates
  • A festival of storytelling families in the Aukštaitija region, where folk customs and traditions would be revived due to the storytelling
  • Invite to periodically share experience, involving other regions of Lithuania
  • To set a mobile storytelling café for young people
  • A network of storytelling libraries would make sense if it contributed to community building, reading promotion, meaningful time spending, and children’s storytelling skills
  • To expand the network including other libraries in the region
  • Clear network structure
  • Create a publicly accessible database of educators
  • Learn new storytelling techniques
  • Adapt stories to audiences of all ages
  • Stay in touch with storytelling libraries
  • Traditional meetings of storytellers+ performances for inspiration.
  • Competitions, festivals for different audiences.
  • International, local annual seminars to share experiences.
  • Learning foreign languages, developing partnerships.
  • Performances without words, bilingual performances.
  • The network as an organization is evolving. Involve youth, musicians, writers.


Spreading the results to European Storytellers

On June 4, G. Petkevičaitė-Bitė Public Library presented the results of the project to the international community of storytellers in the FEST conference in Vilnius. The participants of the FEST conference heard about the network of storytelling libraries being developed in the Panevėžys region, and good practices was shared. https://fest-network.eu/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Programme-Booklet.pdf  ”It is an honor and a responsibility to talk about what we have created in a traditional international event with professional storytellers from all over Europe. We are happy and proud, we hope to go further, so perhaps participating in the FEST conference, where the art of storytelling can be experienced live, will inspire us to even bolder challenges, ”says Virginija Švedienė, Coordinator of Adult Education Activities in the Readers’ Service Department.

Tiril, Virginija and Rose-Marie had a workshop presenting the boxes and how they were created, sharing the method and the process.

Greta told about applied storytelling as a strategic method in the library servic

Read and see more pictures The art of storytelling is reborn in libraries in Panevėžys County

Information Rose-Marie Lindfors rose-marie.lindfors@vasterbottensteatern.se


Development of storytelling art and method model for Lithuanian libraries

The project aim is to develope a storytelling model and method application for Lithuanian libraries with the help of Swedish and Norwegian partners, testing and mastering it as an educational service for users of all ages and social groups; organizing reflection events on good practice in the partner countries. The projects final congress will be held in October 2022.

From Nordic Storytelling Centre Rose-Marie Lindfors will contribute to the project as an educator and by leading workshops. She’s cooperating with Norway representative Tiril Bryn, Fortellerhuset.

Implementing the project
In Nordic countries, storytelling art and method have a long tradition and are intended to be used as a form of contemporary art and as a creative method in various cultural, educational and social contexts. In the cultural field, it is particularly relevant because of the wide range of storytelling applications that can be made by fostering traditions, implementing country reading programs, mobilizing communities and reducing social exclusion.

In Lithuania, the culture of storytelling is just taking shape. This project aims to take over the best Swedish and Norwegian practices in storytelling art and method and to adjust it in public libraries in Northeast Lithuania for work with users. By implementing the project, the libraries of Northeast Lithuania would be ready to carry out a unique educational activity, closely oriented to the cultivation and strengthening of cultural, social and emotional competences of different audiences in Lithuania.

The ongoing process: Five days in September 2021 Storytelling workshops Lithuania

Lecturers Tiril Bryn Fortellerhuset and Rose-Marie Lindfors Nordic Storytelling Centre gave a five day workshop in how to become a Storytelling Librarian and how to create 5 Toolboxes that can be used in Library programs, for different targets groups. Unique programs were created from each group and will be used during the winter, in Librarys in the region Panevėžys in Lituania. In May 2022 participants from Panevėžys will visit Skellefteå and share their experiences.

The first two days contained:
Theoretical knowledge and practical skills in oral storytelling.
Oral Storytelling; as tradition and as contemporary art.
Research and literature, looking at the oral storytelling today in Europe – art/applied/social, networks, areas of focus and educations.
Tools for the story: where to find stories, how to create your own. Construct and adapt story material. Reflect and analyse.
Tools for the storyteller from the competence model “Storytelling in 8 colours”.
How to use storytelling techniques and stories as a means/tool to help.
Defining target groups, needs and goals.
Icebrakers, group dynamics and lerningprocess.

The third and fourth day was group work, five groups of Lithuanian librarians (8 persons in each group) used their skills and competences from the first two days, and created five unique storytelling Toolboxes (actually they created 40 unique Storytelling programs each one of them doing it in their own unique way) for application to different groups of library users in Lithuanian libraries and they generated ideas for each program to create storytelling environments/collections.

We gave the following five focus areas for the groups:
1. Traditional folktale that will be told orally – linked to a life story or a memory from the teller. Focus on the oral telling.
2. Traditional folktale to be told outside, in the environment nearby, using nature as a room for storytelling.
3. Create new stories together with the audience using objects, story cards, wool, etc.
4. A traditional folktale told orally, containing rhythms, rhymes, songs or/and instruments.
5. Creating storytelling programs from Silent Books with elements of the tools provided previously.

We gave every participant the help they needed to create their own way of telling the story, by coaching both story and teller. We also make it possible for participants in each group to help each other, to inspire and give positive feedback. To create an atmosphere that was filled with cooperation and the joy of telling and listening.

Day four, in the evening there was a presentation of the 5 Toolboxes, every group could show a peace of their content and tell about how they had planned their Storytelling session.

The last day – day five – the groups sat together creating a guide/manual for the Toolbox, a handbook that is possible to use even for librarians who havn´t participated in the workshop.

A reflection was made during the last hour where we asked them to find a photo that told about their own learning process, to put words on it, and tell everyone about it. A photo and participants words on their journey:

First scarry – now light
Got good help to start a journey. Felt lost but found the best places in the forrest. Great tools for telling. Packed my car, but I see it is too small, I need a bigger one. Have lots of seeds to spread now. My hat and I on adventure, want to start now. Been climbing up the mountain, want to see the top. A crack in the wall, light comes in, this is just as it needs to be. Lots of new ideas. Longing for the first storytelling program. Lots of leaf on my three, feel safe. The horizon is my goal. I am on my way.

I remember all smiles. Thanks for fire and warmth. I am a bird in the sky, I got wings to fly with. I was in a tunnel and I was always late but not now, I have a motorbike. Built a house and found lots of treasures. Great days, we build together. A house is built, I will keep it without a roof, let the sky be visible. I can open my door now. Together. Communication and Context. A big ocean opening place for new horizons. Safe in the place, safe to learn. The possibility to share was for real, authentic. I am the fly and the flower, I can choose what I want to be and do. I jump, you jump, we jump together and dive into the sea.

Learning is like the wind, it goes forward, on and on. Felt lost, but I am not afraid, I can do. Like the horse eye, I am curious, I dare. In the mouth of the crocodile, but I can handle it. An artform worth spreading. I fund a door I needed. As project leader I was supposed to sit beside, but I forgot and was soon a participant, couldn´t help it, loved it.

As a part of the project the mobile exhibition will be introduced in Nordic institutions in Skellefteå (Sweden) in the new cultural centre Sara – one of the worlds highest wooden buildings. The most active Lithuanian librarians (participants of training) participate.  It will take place in May 2022.

/Rose-Marie LIndfors

Nordic Storytelling Centre representative:
Rose-Marie Lindfors, +46(0)70-649 44 39

Fortellerhuset, Norway representative:
Fortellerhuset, Tiril Bryn
Tel: +47 93088956

Contacts in Lithuania:
Jurgita Bugailiskiene, Library Directo: jurgita.bugailiskiene@pavb.lt,
tel. no +370 45465551
Laima Butkuniene, Library Project Coordinator: laima.butkuniene@pavb.lt,
tel. no +370 501649
Virginija Svediene, Senior Librarian: virginija.svediene@pavb.lt,
tel.no +370 61066760

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