IFLA SL Newsletter

– a commentsblog

Education for school librarians in the Netherlands

By Lourense Das
Meles Meles SMD

In 1975, for the first time in the history of library education, a special one-year post-graduate training course at BA-level started in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Soon, there were more colleges who offered this course but there were never many students. As it was very difficult to find a position in a school library and also because of new ideas on library education in general, this course was stopped halfway the nineteen-eighties.

Since then there is no fulltime training programme for school librarians available. In 1996 the LWSVO (Dutch association for school librarians) (since 2004 LWSVO-NVB) managed to develop a short continuing education course (6 full days) at the university of Amsterdam. The development of this course was very important for the profession in general as many employees working in school libraries were not trained as school librarians. A few hundred students attended this course over a period of two years. It was followed by a refresher course (one day) in 1998. In that same period a lot of commercial organizations started to develop training programmes; the quality of these courses was difficult to establish and the LWSVO was desperately searching for new possibilities.

One of them was the participation in a working group of ECABO. ECABO is the certified organization in the Netherlands for the development of vocational training programs. This working group worked on a special training course for assistant librarians. The students were supposed to be educated for jobs in a broad range of libraries : public libraries, corporate libraries, scientific libraries and special libraries, including school libraries.

Another project was the development of two new training post-graduate programmes (both 6 days) at the university of Amsterdam. One is called ‘Media-educatie en didactiek’ (Information literacy and pedagogy) and the other one ‘Leiding geven in de mediatheek’ (Management of the school library). Both courses are still running, with very good assessment results.

In cooperation with VOBID a special two-day course was developed for school librarians called ‘Zoeken in digitale bestanden’ (Information retrieval in the digital world). This course was also quite successful.

The latest project is the development of a post-graduate course at the Open University for teachers and school librarians on information literacy. This training programme is still ‘under construction’ and is expected to start later this year.

A big problem was (and still is) that the courses mentioned above and also other courses that were developed are not accredited by the government. Also the courses are quite expensive and often school administrators do not want to invest in the professional development of the school librarian. So there is still a lot of work to do!


An overview of training courses for librarians can be found on the website of NVB (The Netherlands Association for Library, Information and Knowledge Professionals): http://www.nvbonline.nl/content.php?hoofdid=229&id=1661

More information on the courses initiated by LWSVO-NVB: http://www.nvbonline.nl/content.php?hoofdid=273&id=1490

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


  1. It is very much surprising to read that there is no bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral program in Library & Information Science in the Netherlands-the country which has “The Dutch Association for Library, Information and Knowledge Professionals” and “The IFLA Headquarters”. Furthermore, there are postgraduate courses of few days duration and even these scanty courses don’t have government accreditation. Then what are above associations doing there?
    Abdul Waheed, Pakistan

    Comment by Abdul Waheed | October 1, 2007 | Reply

  2. Believe me, working very hard to get things moving and establish quality education for school librarians! Actually I’m on my way to talk to a parlementary commission about education for 12 – 18 year olds and discuss this issue. So, wish me luck.

    To be honest it all has to do with the fact that our government believes that educational bodies have to sort things out for themselves. Our Library Association is not consulted about educational programmes, so all programs are initiated, executed and paid for by the Association itself! I agree with you, a sad situation that needs to be changed and that’s exactly what we are trying to do.

    Comment by Lourense Das | October 4, 2007 | Reply

  3. How have your efforts gone in past decade? Is there any government oversight or accreditation yet? Everywhere I look, it seems to require an advanced degree with work place experience. Is that still the case?

    Comment by Jen Kendall | January 21, 2017 | Reply

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