Library Practice for Young Learners ( LPYL)
A Library Week in Stockholm
At the end of September this 1997 the first field trip to Sweden took
place. Part of the BiS / LIWO Libraries for Young Learners Project, eleven
participants took part in the trip that was mainly focused on Stockholm and
its surrounds. Participants included the heads of school library
departments in each province, the coordinator of the project and a
representative from the department of national education. Although the tour
came at a difficult time as department heads grappled with placing school
libraries at the top of the wish list in education, it was clear that the
participants gained insight and motivation from the exchange.
”This first trip was aimed as an introduction to the project,” explains
Cathy Stadler, joint coordinator. ”The programme included visits to various
”best practices” models in Sweden to stimulate ideas and about what would
work in South Africa.” It was also where the selection criteria were
decided for the 18 librarians who are to visit Sweden as part of the
exchange trip. The selection criteria have been debated further in South
Africa to allow provincial delegates to make their selection based on their
specific needs. This means for example that a media advisor could be paired
with a librarian from the same school circuit, instead of simply two school
librarians from primary and secondary schools.
The field trips in Sweden included trips to school libraries such as
Edboskolan primary school and other library services in Sweden that support
At Edboskolan Helen Amborn, one of the school teacher librarians, explained
how the library is structured, and the way in which the library has become
an integral part of the school. A theme is selected and then integrated
throughout the school across subjects.
”All subjects that are taught must involve the school library. All subjects
teachers support the approach to integrate the school library in our
teaching,” she explained.
The school has an open approach to teaching and the theme that is chosen
for a term is integrated into all subjects. Children are also put into age
ranges rather than into set groups, such as six to nine year olds.
Amborn points out that their results have been good. ”Teachers at higher
education institutions say our graduates student are good pupils, and are
used to studying on their own from start to end.”
”We believe that this approach ensures that students are employable when
The group also visited the National Agency for Education. Kerstin Weyler,
director of education gave a presentation on the structure of the education
system in Sweden. She pointed out that their system is decentralised
compared to South Africa with more involvement from the local authorities.
She outlined the reforms that Sweden had undergone and Ingrid Olmander gave
some insights into the place of libraries in the system – which varies from
school to school.
One of the participants pointed out one of the differences – that South
African local authorities are probably not in a position to take over
responsibilities for libraries and run these services successfully.
A field trip to Sofiaskolan secondary school gave an insight into a
distance education project that makes use of computer technology. The
school has set up a communication system that allows students from all over
the world to dial in and participate in lessons. Peter Lindquest explained
that the school was started in 1994.
”The Swedish government wanted faster communication with students abroad.
Scholars connect once a day to change information during the day. This
direct distance education gives some student in Australia or the USA direct
access to mail communications. We have built up a school similar to this
(physical) school. We write down what is taught and teach in cyberspace. We
have built a virtual school yard where students can communicate with each
other. They can learn about new things that are going on in Sweden.”
Library education is being taught across the Internet and Eva Jonsby, based
at Sofiaskolan, explained how she was using the Internet to provide
education to the school librarians.
”The new media of the Internet demands new skills from librarians. We have
to guide students and patrons’ demands for development new skills and
method of working need to further education. I think it is important for
librarians to use the Internet as a resource.”
She has established an online teaching course. ”These are all online. The
course is about the Internet and is presented in five parts. There is a
section to teach students about the Internet browser Netscape, and covers
topics like creating bookmarks, FTP Telnet connections.”
Part two concentrates on searching electronic documents, evaluating
different search tools – how you can use them and which are the most
effective. There is also a section on the evaluation of source documents
and training in some basics such as HTML (hyper text markup language).
”Many librarians have told me that when they have inspiration this links in
with their daily work – if you are going to change things then you need to
know how to do it,” emphasised Jonsby. Part four of the course concentrates
on the legal aspects regarding the law and the Internet mostly on
copyright. Part five concentrates on the future role of librarian and
library and raises issues such as whether the librarian and library will
survive in the new virtual age.
”This course is for people with limited skill – anyone can attend the
conferences, they can ask questions about anything related to the course or
librarians in the new technology librarian. We have a conference online.
This is a busy conference and we have discussions mostly around technical
problems.” The course has to be completed online so it assumes that
librarians have access to the Internet. The course is effective in Sweden
because librarians are dispersed around the country.
Tensta library was visited by the group, and librarian Agneta Ehnmark
explained the challenges of working with immigrants and meeting their
reading needs, as well as outlining the struggle to prevent the library
from closing down.
The librarians at Tensta have realised the importance of introducing
children to books early on. ”We give a book to the children as a gift. This
includes traditional children’s literature. These books are subsidised by
the government. In our Book Talks children teach themselves a love of
literature,” said Ehnmark, head of the library.
Other speakers at the library presentation gave an insight into the
provision of library services to Sweden’s substantial immigrant population.
The municipality of Upplands Väsby has a centralised school library service
and it provided an insight into a support service for school library
services. The service is intended to support the work that school
librarians do in the area and does so in a number of different ways –
through training and providing access to resources, as well as technical
Anna-Clara Edin, head of the school library service, pointed out there is a
need for this service.
”The media center was started in 1980 to establish school libraries. We
have an exhibition of books and we have most of the books that publishers
sell. Teachers come here to compare these books before they make decision
to buy them for their school. We have education radio programs that are
financed by the government. These are taped and lent out to the different
schools-learning languages, chemistry etc. We think that text picture and
sound can and should complement each other. It is very important to support
the school librarian. The school librarians have no formal education and
hence are usually chosen from permanent staff.”
Other field trips for the group included visits to Gribby Gard – a
combined school and public library, Skederid (rural combined public and
school library) as well as an evening at the National Board of Cultural
The last two days in Stockholm consisted of lectures from Lena Skoglund and
Louise Limberg. Both speakers looked at the important role of the school
library in education. The tour was interspersed with various cultural
activities such as visits to the Royal Library.
Participants on the tour were positive about the visits. ”Swedish and South
African libraries are at different levels of development, and different
milieus. A similarity was noticeable in the thinking, attitude and hopes of
the Swedish and South African participants,” said one tour delegate.
Berth Kitching from the Free State commented, ”In Sweden there is not a
national school library policy. Provision fundraising and decision making
is decentralised to local municipality level. It was encouraging to hear
the Swedish appreciation for the existence and quality of the South African
school policy document and the affirmation of having a policy that allows
for a variety of school library models. In this regard the Swedish
stakeholders expressed a need to follow the South African example and
formalise a school library policy.”
”Teacher’s and parents have a joint responsibility towards the education of
the child,” said Nowmawethu Jonas from the Eastern Cape. ”The commitment of
teachers in their work and parental involvement is astonishing. South
Africa must provide the infrastructure and resources. Both countries are
searching for quality in education. Sweden is in a better position because
they have the infrastructure and personnel. South Africa still has to build
more schools,” she concluded. Nomvuko Nomga added: ”School libraries are
change agents in curriculum development. As teaching aids they increase the
quality of teaching – outcomes based methods. They are necessary to
implement the objectives of the new curriculum.” She pointed out that the
tour had been extremely well organised and that the Swedish hosts had done
a magnificent job.
The delegates have returned to South Africa to begin the selection of two
librarians from each province. This process will be finalised by February
1998 when some BiS members will visit South Africa to meet with the
exchange librarians and to plan the second visit..
List of delegates in South Africa
NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION:
Chief Education Specialist
Centre for Educational Technology & Distance Education
PROVINCIAL DEPARTMENTS OF EDUCATION
Directorate: Support Services
Library & Information Services, Education Department,
Directorate: Education Institute
Schools Capacitation :Education Department
Provincial Library and Archival Services
Northern Cape Education Department
Education Department Western Cape
KING WILLIAMS TOWN
Library and Information Service
Provincial Library Services
Department of Education, Sport & Recreation
North West Province
School Library Service
South African Project Group
Jenni Karlsson e-mail: KARLSSON@MTB.und-ac.za
Cathy Stadler e-mail: email@example.com
Maureen Mosselson e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Swedish Project Group
Lennart Wettmark e-mail: email@example.com
Lena Lundgren e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
BiS Aug 1997; transl chl