A Library Week in Stockholm

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

young learners.


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

they graduate.”


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



June Matlala

Chief Education Specialist

Centre for Educational Technology & Distance Education




Esdre Keller

Directorate: Support Services

Library & Information Services, Education Department,




Bertha Kitching

Directorate: Education Institute

Schools Capacitation :Education Department

Free State



Vatiswa Magwentshu

Provincial Library and Archival Services

Northern Cape Education Department



Lyne Metcalfe


Education Department Western Cape



Nomawethu Jonas

Provincial Library

Eastern Cape



Meshack Mulaudzi

Library and Information Service

Northern Province



Sam Ndawo

Education Department




Nomvuko Nomnga

Provincial Library Services

Department of Education, Sport & Recreation

North West Province



Sibongile Nzimande

School Library Service







Cathy Stadler

Maureen Mosselson




South African Project Group

Jenni Karlsson e-mail: KARLSSON@MTB.und-ac.za

Cathy Stadler e-mail: computing@icon.co.za

Maureen Mosselson e-mail: mosson@iafrica.com


Swedish Project Group

Lennart Wettmark e-mail: lennart.wettmark@sag.karlstad.se

Lena Lundgren e-mail: lena.lundgren@ssb.stockholm.se


BiS Aug 1997; transl chl