IFLA SL Newsletter

– a commentsblog

The school library – learning centres of to-morrow

By Maren Brit Baadshaug, Norway

maren.brit.baadshaug@online.no

Courseblog: (in Norwegian): http://tinyurl.com/5t76u
Blog about Information Literacy (in Norwegian): http://infoskole.blogspot.com

This is the ambitious title of a course for librarians and teachers in secondary schools (age 16-19) that the National Centre for Library Services started august 2004. The course is developed by Niels Damgaard, Senior Education Manager at the Centre, and Maren Brit Baadshaug, freelance school library consultant.

The motivation for this enterprise was the need for school librarians to have further occupational development and the acknowledgment of the fact that the teachers are the ones responsible for assigning the tasks that make the students need the library and its resources. Changes in national curricula as well as the continuous changes in available information make cooperation between teachers and librarians more important than ever when the goal is to develop information literacy among the students. First a few facts about school libraries and the education of school librarians in Norway: The access to libraries in schools is required by law, but beyond that there are virtually no formal requirements to the services provided. School libraries therefore vary a lot across the country. On the secondary level, many schools have good libraries staffed with full time professional librarians, while most elementary schools lack proper library facilities. The secondary schools usually have professionally trained librarians while the elementary schools have teachers with supplementary education in school librarianship.

New curricula at all levels will be introduced from August 2006. The driving force behind the school reforms are the fact that Norwegian students have not scored very high on various international tests in reading skills, and this worries the politicians. As a result, strong emphasis is put on a set of so-called basic skills; reading, writing, oral communication and arithmetic. Digital competence, learning strategies and social competence are also considered part of these basic skills. The strategy for empowering the school libraries is therefore to point to the library as an important arena for developing these basic skills.

The target group for our course is professionally trained librarians and teachers that want to use the library and to improve their own information competence in their teaching and in the assignments they give their students. The course consists of five one day gatherings in the course of the school year. Between the gatherings the participants are required to present a description of their school, a scenario for the future and plan for further development. We have our own internet site where these documents are presented. They are also required to do a project in the course of the year.

So far we have carried out courses in 7 counties, while two courses held in Oslo have had participants from all over the country. We design the local courses in cooperation with local library and school authorities and try to use examples from the county of good practice whenever possible. The basic skeleton of the course, however, remains the same. The first gathering is devoted to school library policy, curriculum development etc, the second and third gathering to information competence and the fourth to reading and reading encouragement. On the last gathering the participants give a Power Point presentation of their own project. On each gathering we try to find a balance between good examples and more theoretical approaches. We also require the participants to use different kinds of useful digital tools (mind-mapping, blogging, PowerPoint etc.) at various stages in the process.

We invite the principals of the participating schools to the first gathering, and point to the connection between information literacy and the basic skills. We also point to the crucial role of the school leadership in developing the library and the necessity of including the library and the library staff in the development of the local curricula and pedagogic strategies. To illustrate this we always have a principal from a local school with a good library to present his school and explain how the library is incorporated in that particular schools overall policy and planning. Due to the fact that so many schools send their librarians and teachers to our courses, we permit ourselves to call the project a success. Librarians and teachers have cooperated in new ways doing the assignments required. They have also cooperated with their leaders in making plans for the further development of their library and its integration in the overall planning of the schools. These texts provided are collected on our net pages for comparisons and future references. We have also learned a lot ourselves, as there are many well-functioning school libraries in all parts of the country. However, in the ongoing process of improving our course, we are highly dependent on inspiration from other countries and research in this field at the international level. We are constantly looking for good models for developing information competence at different levels and in different contexts.

Maren Brit Baadshaug

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January 8, 2007 - Posted by | 2. Issue 42, 3. Theme:42: SL-education, Norway

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