Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pedagogical roles

Today has one of my catch-up posts from the Creating Knowledge conference that took place at the end of August in Turku, Finland. Kaisa Sinikara talked about pedagogical roles for librarians in the changing information environment. She is Director of Information and Libraries at Helsinki University, Finland. I found her keynote stimulating and only wish my language skills were good enough to read her thesis (linked at the end for those who can understand Finnish). You can find her PowerPoint presentation here on the CK5 website, and I summarise some of her key points.
She talked about the waves, or phases, of information technology and information network adoption in libraries and education. The final wave has brought change to everyone in universities and led to library activities and values having to be re-evaluated, in a move towards the networked community. For librarians, this has brought the teaching role of librarians into the foreground.
Kaisa identified common values between libraries and universities and also differences. Competition is part of university culture, together with a focus on autonomy and freedom e.g. in research publication. These are potential differences, since "the core value of the libraries is service" together with "sensible and efficient operations".She identified challenges to librarians’ pedagogical role, including knowing your institutional partners, recognising the library's own values, and overcoming misconceptions about the librarian's role. She identified characteristics of researchers and teachers writing about information literacy - highlighting their emphasis on the socio-cultural nature of learning and the academic context in which IL is practised. She also mentioned the need to avoid overstandardisation and quantified learning .
Kaisa talked about the work of university library directors in Finland, including defining skills and knowledge needed. There was statement that I blogged a while ago, which identifies levels of information literacy in university curricula (this is described on the Finnish IL website linked below). The Finnish library directors also identified competences needed by university libraries; with pedagogical competence and support for production of information resources some of those needed.
For the next wave of technological change - challenges include e-science, open access and repositories, Web 2.0 applications, the characteristics of students themselves and demands for increased efficiency.
The library will, and needs to, be more and more a network, with the librarian part of teaching and research process, finding creative solutions. One of her final points was that creativity should perhaps be added to the basic values of library services (implying perhaps a tendency to be over-cautious and focused on efficiency).
Her parting message was that “Enthusiasm and persistence help us create the future and a positive pedagogical role for libraries in a changing society”.

Information Literacy in Finland website:

Sinikara, K. (2008) Ammatti, ihminen ja maailmankuva murroksessa : Tutkimus yliopistokirjastoista ja kirjastonhoitajista tietoyhteiskuntakaudella 1970-2005. University of Helsinki. (In Finnish) [Title translation is: Profession, person and worldview at a turning point; a study of uniersity libraries and library staff in the information age, 1970-2005]
Photos by Sheila Webber: Conference dinner and statue in the conference venue grounds, August 2008

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