Multilingual expert database under construction

Workshop in Helsinki 15.9.2016. Photo: Outi Salonlahti

How is it possible to support, evaluate or share the work of an author who writes in a language that is not widely spoken in the country? Which of the writers should get support for their writing or for translations? Which books should be included in the collections of multilingual libraries? The people who can answer to these questions need to be able to understand the specific language and evaluate the literary quality of the books.

On Thursday, September 15th 2016, a group of representatives of literary institutions and non-dominant language writers from Finland, Sweden and Norway gathered at the Pasila Multilingual library, Helsinki, to plan the construction of a multilingual Nordic database of literary experts. The workshop was organized by the project Multilingualism and Diversity as a Resource in the cultural field. The database will be one of the concrete outcomes of the project.

Collaboration between Nordic literary institutions

The need for a shared Nordic database of multilingual expert readers appeared when Culture for All, Sivuvalo project, Finnish Reading Centre and Cultural Centre Caisa started to work for a better inclusion of non-dominant language authors in 2013. The literary institutions that have opened their membership and / or services for non-dominant language authors in the Nordic countries have found different solutions for the questions of evaluation. Examples of these are e.g. the Norwegian Authors’ Union and Swedish Authors’ Fund, both represented in the workshop.  Part of the work has been to find expert readers in different languages.

One of the aims of the Nordic collaboration is to share these and other good practices of the increasingly multilingual literary field between the Nordic countries. Previously the work has included e.g. meetings with different organizations, the seminar Literature without borders at Nordic Culture Point and a report that explored the position of non-dominant language authors in the different Nordic literary institutions.

The construction of the database will be done based on the discussions and comments of the workshop. Institutions  that have been involved in the planning stage of the database are Norwegian Authors’ Union, Litteraturcentrum Uppsala, Sweden, Swedish Authors’ Fund, Sweden, Finnish Critics’ Association (SARV), The Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters (SKTL), FILI Finnish Literature Exchange, Finnish Reading Centre, Sivuvalo project, Nordic Culture Point, Finnish Writers’ Union, The Society of Swedish Authors in Finland and Multilingual Library that offered the space for the project work. The project is coordinated By Culture for All Service with funding from the Ministry of Culture and Education, Finland as part of Finland’s presidency in the Nordic Council of Ministers.