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Librarian Training in Information
and Communication Technologies:
A Typology of Needs and Deliverable

by Niels Ole Pors, Trine Schreiber, December 1996

Created: 25 FEB 98

Executive Summary

The overall change in libraries from a manual approach to one based on computers has occurred at quite different speeds in different European countries. This uneven development can be described in terms of stages in the development process. Depending on the country in question, the difficulty in coping with technological development can have many causes. One common barrier may be the lack of continuing education for librarians and information professionals.

The objective of this study is to provide information on planning education and training for increased use of information technology in libraries. This has been achieved by:

  • defining the body of core knowledge and skills required of librarians to run information and communication technology (I&CT;) applications within their particular domain; and
  • considering what training and educational deliverables are most appropriate for imparting this kind of knowledge and skills.
Continuing education includes educational activities primarily designed to keep practising librarians and information professionals abreast of their particular domain in the library, and to provide them with training in new fields. Its ultimate aim is to improve library and information services. It is important to emphasise that the study defines continuing education not as educational activities leading to an academic degree but rather as activities consisting of short courses for graduate librarians and other information professionals who are interested in acquiring additional skills. The report this sets out to provide an overview of training and education possibilities without examining formal criteria for graduation.

The report is divided into seven chapters:

  1. a short description of the appraoch;
  2. general introduction (defintions, structure, methodology);
  3. relevant topics for courses in continuing education corresponding to the IT skills librarians need to run I&CT; applications in libraries;
  4. model of IT levels of libraries in moving from manual approaches to those based on use of information technology;
  5. country-by-country analysis of continuing education in Western Europe; nature of course programmes, training requirements;
  6. overview of deliverables for continuing education; description of a model for meeting different kinds of needs;
  7. conclusions and recommendations.
The situation varies considerably from country to country. Institutions such as library schools, university departments of librarianship and information science, private and professional associations, have a role to play in continuing educational. In some countries courses lack frequency. More often than not, continuing education activities appear to be irregular. In some countries, state agencies seem to play a part in developing programmes; in others, one institution has sole responsibility. In some case, several institutions are involved.

The technological training needs of librarians and information professionals in libraries depend on the IT level of the particular library. The delivery methods used in connection with continuing education have need to take account of technological training needs based on different IT levels of competence in libraries. The literature supports discussion of the following kinds:

  • short courses
  • diploma courses
  • seminars
  • on-campus training
  • on-the-job training
  • self-directed learning
  • distance learning
  • teleconferencing
The general conclusions are as follows:
  1. For libraries at the most advanced level specified in the report, a high level of specialisation will be needed. Networked learning will be of special importance in fulfilling this kind of need. The learning process may involve discussions, problem solving and service innovation. Further, self-directed learning is likely.
  2. For libraries which have recently been automated or are in the process being automated, such specialisation can also be relevant and, therefore, networked learning is of interest. To support the development of the library network system as a whole, educational efforts have to be planned and co-ordinated. Thus, a delivery method such as diploma courses deserve attention.
  3. For libraries, where online access to databases is not fully integrated in the library and where the automation process has not yet started, the same need for planning and co-ordination exists. Therefore, as above, diploma courses are of interest. Further, these libraries show a wide spectrum of conditions for IT development. For this reason, educational activities have to be adjusted to meet local needs. Such adjustment can be developed through on-the-job training and teleconferencing. Development of self-directed learning is also important.
  4. For libraries using the manual approach, comprehensive initiation in I&CT; eld is needed. For these libraries, where there is no indication about when IT is to be implemented, a planned, co-ordinated effort can frequently be off target. Local adjustment of continuing educational activities is therefore important. On-the-job training, teleconferencing and self-directed learning are relevant here.
The following recommendations are made:
I. at the level of the EU programmes
Stimulate initiative for further co-operation in the training and educational field. This concerns all the different institutions such as library schools, university departments, associations and other providers of continuing education. Further, investigate firstly the potential of co-operative efforts through EUCLID, secondly the results of ERASMUS/SOCRATES and TEMPUS/Phare programmes with regard to the field.
Encourage the initiatives to establish communication fora on the net for library staff. Further, launch initiatives to use networked learning in the continuing educational field.
Conduct ongoing studies of the profile of continuing educational providers.
Encourage present providers of continuing education to combine training on campus with other delivery methods.
II. at the level of the LIS educational institutions
Offer co-ordinated continuing education on an European basis
Support further studies of the IT skills required of library staff
Improve courseware training package for distance learning and teleconferencing. Improve courseware for local adjustment of the educational efforts. Improve courseware for a wide introduction to the I&CT; field. Improve groupware to support changes in the organisation of libraries.
Improve the methods for training in distance learning and networked learning. Study the methods for training concerning the combination of distance learning and on-the-job training. Develop the methods for training in relation to the Problem-Based Learning.
III. at the level of the professional associations
Support further studies of IT skills required of library staff
Support the developing of courseware for the following needs: for local adjustment of the educational efforts and for the wide introduction to the I&CT; field. Support the developing of groupware used for changes in the organisation of the libraries.
IV. at the level of LIS organisations such as EBLIDA and EUCLID
support the development of a joint European framework for continuing education
V. at the level of the providers of continuing education (not only the LIS educational institutions but also private and professional associations, libraries, state agencies, etc.)
Offer co-ordinated continuing education on an European basis
Combine the training on campus with other delivery methods
Support the developing of courseware for the following needs: for local adjustment of the educational efforts and for the wide introduction to the I&CT; field. Support the developing of groupware used for changes in the organisation of the libraries.
VI. at the level of the libraries
Study methods of training combining distance learning and on-the-job training.

The full study is available for downloading

European Commission

DG Information Society
Cultural Heritage Applications Unit
Contact: Digicult
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