TEACHERS AS SCHOOL LIBRARIANS!? A CASE STUDY FROM SWEDEN
We will present a newly established course where academic librarians teach current teachers to become school librarians. Emphasis will be placed on issues like how to teach information literacy in a school setting; how to use social media; how to instill a more scientific attitude among school librarians (according to the new Education Act of Sweden) and to discuss new emerging roles for school librarians.
The new Education Act of Sweden states that all pupils, regardless of whether they attend a municipal or independent school, are to have access to a school library. This is a significant political statement regarding the importance of libraries as a teaching resource and also every child’s equal right to have one. But much criticism, from several actors, points out the fact that the text of the act is entirely lacking in information regarding staffing. It is up to the individual principal to decide how many people shall work with the library as a teaching resource and also what kind of qualifications the individual needs as a modern school librarian. No extra funds have been assigned for this purpose; rather the work shall be carried out within the framework of the standard budget.
Today two thirds of Sweden’s 6078 grammar and upper secondary schools have a library of their own, or a shared or integrated school library that is open to students and is staffed at least one hour per week. But, still over 200,000 pupils do not have access to a school library!
Schools are responsible for ensuring that every pupil is able to use modern technology as a tool in searching for information, communication, and learning. Librarians are therefore being given more and more responsibility as information technology advances and they must keep up to date on the latest research techniques and digital equipment. They must be equipped with high levels of IT skills to in order to be able to maximize the use of technology for accessing and disseminating information.This means that the role of school librarians will be increasingly focused around the use of digital content in the classroom together with traditional reading comprehension.
Today in Sweden current teachers wishing to become school librarians doesn’t need to take any library/information science classes to be licensed as a school librarian. This is deplorable since some of them are totally unaware of, for instance, the concept of information literacy. That means that they lack the knowledge and the pedagogy used in library and information sciences.
In order to somewhat rectify this situation we offered a course of 7,5 credits to a couple of municipalities in Sweden. In one of the municipalities the goal is to have a trained librarian at every school. The course consists of different modules such as Knowledge Organization, Critical Thinking Skills, Open Educational Resources, Research Techniques and Academic Writing. Over 50 teachers applied and in January this year we examined the first ones. We would like to share our experiences and discuss further improvement of our course.