IFLA SL Newsletter

– a commentsblog

Education for Italian School Librarians and Documentalists (SL&D)

By Paolo Odasso

AIB Public Libraries National Committee


The most important initiatives in the field of Education for School Librarians and Documentalist (SL&D) in Italy, during the last years, are the following ones:

1. The “Il progetto Biblioteche nelle scuole” (The Project Libraries in the Schools) run by the National Ministry of Education http://www.istruzione.it/

2. The project GOLD financed by INDIRE (National Institute for Documentation of Innovation of Educational Research) http://www.indire.it/

3. The project WINIRIDE promoted and financed also by INDIRE

4. The Corso di Perfezionamento “Formazione del docente documentalista scolastico” (a Specialization course for SL&D run by the University of Padova (http://www.unipd.it/)

The above mentioned initiatives are at a national level. It’s also important to remember there are different regional and local initiatives with many training courses and counselling activities for SL&D. Some of them are organised by Local Educational Authorities, some others by the IRRE. There are 20 Regional Institutes for Educational Research of the Ministry of Education operating with the mission to support Italian schools to improve the quality of learning.

Before summarizing these initiatives it must be remembered that in Italy, even if the majority of the State schools, from primary to upper secondary, has its own School Library and Resource Centre (SLRC), there isn’t a National Parliament law that guarantees their existence, nor that the SL&D profession is in anyone of them. As a consequence there is not a upper secondary diploma or a University degree for SL&D but only training or specialisation courses for in-service teachers who, while working for the SLRC of their own schools, want to improve the quality of their job through volunteer participation.


1. The “Project Libraries in the schools” (“Il progetto Biblioteche nelle scuole”) http://www.istruzione.it/innovazione/progetti/biblioteche-nelle-scuole.shtml, at the moment, is surely the most important in Italy, both for the big amount of money invested and for the number of teachers and SL&D involved. This project started in the year 2004 with the support of three National Ministry – the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Technological Innovation, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage – and in cooperation with the Central Institute for the Unique Catalogue (ICCU). The main goal of the project is to begin a process of networked cataloguing in order to integrate the catalogues of 500 Italian schools inside the National Library Service (SBN http://www.iccu.sbn.it/sbn.htm) and to promote the future use of the national system of Inter Library Loan among the Italian schools and teachers. This acknowledges the growing importance of the access to information for the educational activities and is the main rationale for this project that is supposed to last three years. Thanks to the project about 500 SL&D will be engaged in a process of training in order to become expert users of two national client-server software, one in the North (www.sebina.it/Sebina.htm), and the other one in the South of Italy (www.iccu.sbn.it/sbnunix.htm).

2. The project GOLD (Global On line Documentation, www.gold.indire.it ) financed by the INDIRE (www.indire.it) which is a National Institution of the Ministry of Education, is a project of “knowledge management” of the Italian school system, the most important public initiative in the field of educational “best practices documentation”. GOLD started in the year 2002 with the cooperation of three main subjects: INDIRE, the Ministry of Education, the 20 Regional IRRE. In many regions also other organisations give their support to the implementation of GOLD: the Universities and some Teachers Professional Associations. This project is strictly dependent on the changes of educational systems both at international and at the national level. How to develop “lifelong learning” and how to help learners to build up and strengthen “multi-literacies”, “key-competencies” more than the traditional delivering of a “closed body of information/knowledge” are the main focus and challenges that all the educational systems have to cope with, as we can see from many international benchmarking surveys, like OECD_PISA. In Italy the school system is challenged by another reason. After the year 2000 all the Italian schools became autonomous and a new decentralised system took off. As a consequence of these important changes, all the Italian schools have, by law, at the same time the duty to perform “action-research” activities and finally to document, capitalize and organise the new information and knowledge produced. Teachers and/or SL&D, according to GOLD, are therefore encouraged (with money for any of the best practice awarded and with local training courses) to select the most significant experiences of their school and then, by following National Guidelines produced by INDIRE-IRRE system, http://gold.bdp.it/nazionale/documentare/Linee_guida/linee1.htm to produce primary and secondary documents both for their own SLRC and for the national on line catalogue, that is GOLD. By FTP, the educational electronic documentation moves from the local SRLC administrated by the SL&D to the regional database administrated by the 20 IRRE, to the national database administrated by the INDIRE. GOLD therefore became the most important Italian on line catalogue for educational grey materials, a database where it is possible to find out both educational processes and learning objects. Among many different important aspects it must be called upon the attention over the fact that for secondary documentation GOLD makes use of one of most important European Educational Thesaurus, the European Treasury Brower http://www.eun.org/eun.org2/eun/en/Celebrate_LearningObjects/entry_page.cfm?id_area=14 a which is useful pathway for possible future developments toward a European educational data base.

3. The Project WINIRIDE http://www.winiride.it/ is dedicated to process of cooperative cataloguing among Italian SLRCs. This project started in the last decade of the last century. Thanks to the cooperation of INDIRE, the Ministry of Education and the 20 IRRE during the last few years, free software, called WINIRIDE (which is a development for schools of the UNESCO WIN-ISIS) has been offered to all the 10,700 Italian schools. The peculiarity of this software is that it is specifically suited for a SLRC, because it pays a lot of attention to semantic aspects of cataloguing and extremely useful for inexpert users like students. Not only CDD, but also abstracts, different possibilities to link multimedia information, different international, national and local thesauri (EET, http://www.eurydice.org/TeeForm/FrameSet_EN.htm LGI etc.) are included. To promote the use of this software and in order to learn how to use and to exploit its educational potentials, many IRRE organised training courses for SL&D. Some of them (see IRRE Piemonte http://www.winiride.it/piemonte/ ) at the end the courses gave birth to a regional SLRC OPAC. One of the most important aspects of these IRRE courses is the focus on the necessity – due to the great explosion of OPACs and the Internet. – for a SLRC to develop its own specific identity, in a dialectic of distinction/cooperation with other types of libraries. According to this assumption, the mission of SLRC is not simply that of guaranteeing access to information for everyone, that of “in-forming”, like other kind of libraries have to do. It is instead to give birth to an educational laboratory, to recognize that its own mission is strictly dependent on the mission of the school. As far as students are concerned its function is therefore that of “trans-forming” the learner into an expert user and as far as teachers are concerned its function is that of “trans-forming” the information produced by their professional activities into real resources through knowledge management policies.

4. The Corso di Perfezionamento “Formazione del docente documentalista scolastico” (a Specialization course for SL&D run by the University of Padova http://www.unipd.it/corsi_perfezionamento/scheda/676.htm) is surely one of the most important initiative developed in Italy during the last years. Many Italian teachers, from primary to upper secondary schools, went to Padova and took part in annual courses. Some of them are also e-learning and/or blended courses. It must be remembered that, connected with these courses, one of the most important initiatives organised by the University of Padova in 2003 was the first international meeting for Italian SL&D’s about the issue of the Educational Research in SLRC and different approaches to Information Literacy.


January 14, 2007 - Posted by | 2. Issue 42, 3. Theme:42: SL-education, Italy

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