IFLA SL Newsletter

– a commentsblog

How School Librarians Could Work Better Together

by Niels Damgaard, Senior Adviser for School Libraries and Web 2.0,
Biblioteksentralen, Oslo

For some years I have participated in different ways in various international organizations (e.g., ENSIL, IASL and IFLA), working for better school libraries worldwide. I am increasingly concerned about how these organizations manage to reach out to those school librarians who are NOT able or willing to pay for expensive travelling and expensive conference fees and other meetings and events scattered around in the world. In fact it is my impression that it is the same bunch of people (±50) in these organizations, able and willing to travel on their own or on their employers’ budget, who are meeting each others again and again year after year. But for the rest of us there is NO hope of personal participation in remote conferences. What is offered to the thousands of ordinary school librarians during and after

these international events? While one can pay for access to papers and perhaps CDs from some of the events, very little is available after the events for free or inexpensively.I understand that these organizations are eager to earn money to be able to travel and set up these events worldwide. However, two big questions remain: “How can we better dissimilate these internationally researches and speakers for a broader part of the “School librarian on the floor”? and “How can we better implementing a free international co-operation through new social software like e.g. NINGs?” Only in this way we will be able to get greater interest (and more members, perhaps) in the important work in IFLA and IASL from ordinary school librarians in the field.  

An Example: The Norwegian Web 2.0 School 2007-2008

In Norway we successfully offered a course for librarians: the Web 2.0 School. From April, 2007, to March, 2008, ten full course-days were offered. Participants studied Library 2.0 , School Library 2.0, blogs, wikis, podcasts, screencast and video, social software, RSS feeds, and information focal-points such as Netvibes and Pageflakes. They were introduced to a part of the new society where librarians together can produce and share information. Participants used all kinds of social software, and at the last gathering there was a show of all the blogs, Wikis and screencast the attendees had produces during the last ten months.
If the school libraries in the future shall have any change to survive, I think it is important for them to be “retooled” (thanks, Joyce Valenza, for this contribution): to be able to give their customers (teachers and students) help in  
selecting, using and advising about the new tools for production in the Web 2.0 world.

As you may know, Norway is a long country: more than 2500 km from north to south! Therefore our course was constructed as follows: there were three kinds of participants: some were present in Oslo, others listened and participated in real time from their home or work computers, and the last group enjoyed the talks via MP3 files and PowerPoint presentations asynchronously. A wiki set-up collected all information on every topic, and offered instruction ion before – during – and after the monthly meetings. In the morning we normally enjoyed talks from interesting speakers sitting in Scandinavia, Spain, or even America via our virtual meeting room. We used a cheap OPAL-room where we are able to transmit via the Internet both audio and PowerPoint, using chat at the same time.

 Attendees could decide just a few days before the monthly events how they wanted to participate: face-to-face, virtually or asynchronously; they also chose whether to follow only one event, several events or all. We learned that half of the attendees enjoyed all ten sessions; the rest attended between one to eight days. In the beginning, many were interested in attending the course in Oslo in person, but after a few events more and more preferred to stay at home to join virtually in realtime. We had attendees from all corners of our remote country on this course, many sitting on small islands and other remote places, enjoying the Web 2.0 tools for the first time.


What Did We Learn in Norway from the Web 2.0 School?

We are now able – very cheaply – to set up a system where we can educate and work together over long distance in real time. We are able to have attendees from all our small islands who can stay at home enjoying their course without having expenses travelling up to 2500 km!

Attendees can choose the days they can afford and have time for, and they can communicate with their colleagues who are interested in learning and training about the same topics. To record we used a simple and cheap microphone (Logitech AK 5370, about $50) and the free software Audacity (or iSound, about $30). The web room is an OPAL-room for $250 per year, which offers 24 seats. All recordings were edited and transferred to MP3-files for better performance after the event in the free program Audacity.

This course will be continued this fall and spring of 2009. Additionally, we are now focusing on a ten-month course for school librarians AND teachers working together to play and interact with Web 2.0 technology in order to prepare them to incorporate these tools for their own teaching as well as supporting their pupils from K-16 schools in Norway.

What about the International Situation?

Why could we use this experience? First of all, to offer international events virtually for “all the rest of us” who are NOT able/willing to come to the event. Preparing a conference is hard work, I know, but think about how you could have some (if not all) of the presentations recorded and stored as MP-3 sound files to download. On SlideShare PowerPoint shows and MP3 files can be “glued together” to give access for free! Cost and ease of use are no longer an argument for not recording events.

We should bring in speakers from the whole world via the net (Webinars like the OPALroom or even the free program SKYPE is very useful) to bring down the expenses (avoiding travel and accommodation costs) for setting up events, and then invite “the rest of us” virtually for a low price – or for free sometimes! ASLA in Australia is setting up a free NING at http://aslaonline.ning.com for debate before their third virtual conference, which is a good start!

 So I am looking forward to join coming events together with thousands of other school librarians around the world as  virtual attendees to listen and enjoying the speakers in real time or asynchronously via podcasts – and to participate virtually

. And perhaps I would like to pay a little fee to be there, if you would not like to give this to us for free?Read more about: “You Should Record Everything You Do or Say” by Leesa Barnes
and comment on this article at
this blog. 

About Niels Damgaard

Niels Damgaard is currently Senior Adviser on School Libraries and Web 2.0 in the Norwegian Resource Centre for Libraries (Biblioteksentralen AL). He has taught and worked as a site school librarian for fifteen years in Denmark, Greenland and Norway. For the past twelve years he has been busy setting up courses together with the University of Agder (UIA) for teachers running school libraries in Norway, and in the last four year more than 400 librarians and teachers running school libraries in secondary schools have been taking his own courses. Niels edited the IFLA section 11 Newsletter from 2005 to 2007, and won the Newsletter of the Year Award in 2006. He finds his inspiration from worldwide networks such as the WebHeads, the EVO (The Electronic village), The WebAcademy, 23-things and other places, where he can study Web 2.0 for free.


July 30, 2008 Posted by | Issue 46, Norway, Uncategorized, Web 2.0 | , , | 8 Comments


by Elisabeth Tallaksen Rafste,
Agder University College, Norway


Agder University College is the only institution within higher education in Norway that offers admission to studies in school librarianship every year. The University College is located in the southern part of Norway, known as Sørlandet. It has more than 8200 students and 900 teaching and administrative staff, and is one of the largest University Colleges in the country.

The main institutions for library and information studies are at the University of Tromsø and at Oslo University College. They do, however, not offer study programs in school librarianship. Some University Colleges throughout the country have offered study modules for school librarians now and then, but never on a regular basis.

The history of the school library media education at Agder University College goes back to 1985. A 30 credit post graduate study module for teachers was offered as a payed-study. It was very successful. There was a great need for education specially adapted for school librarians. The same study programme was offered three more times. In 1994 there was, thanks to pioneers’ working, a decisive breakthrough in the professional field of school librarianship, a field with great visions but with few resources. The study programme was offered as part of the study portfolio at Agder University College, and still is. The study in school librarianship has expanded from one to three different study programs. The main characteristics of the studies are their educational profile.

The study programmes

School library media program 1 – the basic program – 30- credit

The study has three main subject themes:

  • The school library as part of the learning arenas at school:
    The educational function of the school library in school

    • theories on learning and knowledge
    • organizing learning arenas
    • use of the school library in curricula
    • information literacy
    • the role of the school librarian in school
    • the school library in school development
  • Library Science
    • cataloguing and classification
    • reference and bibliography
    • organization and administration
    • ICT and library
  • Children’s and young adults’ literature and use of media.
    • the book collection in the school library, a wide variety of genres
    • texts from a diversity of media
    • educational use of the literature; reading for joy

School library media program 2 – Literature for children and young adult (specialization) 30- credit

This study program was developed in 1998. Many students wanted to specialize in literature for children and young adults, and to extend their study in school librarianship into 30 + 30 credits.

The study has two main subject themes:

  • Literature for children and young adults
    • The history of children’s literature
    • Introduction to a vide variety of literature genres for children and young adults
    • Analysis and discussions of the texts
  • Use of literature in education
    • Theoretical perspectives
    • Stimulation of reading and use of the school library

School library media program 3 – Information literacy (specialization) – 30- credit

From our work with School library media program 1 we experienced a need for specialization in information literacy. We have now developed a curriculum for this study, which will start September 2006.

The study has two main subject themes:

· Culture for learning

o Theories on learning and knowledge

o The pedagogy of guiding/coaching

o Information literacy in theory and practice

o The school library and inclusion

o Strategic reading

· Life long learning: Information: searching – evaluating – using – presenting

o Project work – from A to Z

The methods used in all the three studies are kept close to practice; the students learn and develop projects and curricula they can use in their daily life as school librarians. Practice is discussed from different theoretical perspectives. The main exam in all the studies is a project where the students have to work through all the stages of this method to develop the school library, preferably at their own work-place.

In 1998 the first school library media program was developed into a web-based study program. Number two was developed in 2001, and the third study program is so far developed as a web-based study only.

The duration of each of the three e-learning study programmes is three semester; the two local study programmes (School library media program 1 and 2 are two semester).

The web-based studies have opened up our studies for students all over the country, and have been a success.

The target group for all the school library programs are teachers in primary and secondary school (K-13) and librarians in public libraries. Over the years about 8-900 students have their education in school librarianship from Agder University College.

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

The school library – learning centres of to-morrow

By Maren Brit Baadshaug, Norway


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

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