Denmark : recent trends in Danish library education 1982

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Recent Trends in Danish Library Education


On the 7th January 1982 the Royal School of Librarianship, Copenhagen, celebrated its 25th Anniversary. The School is unique in several respects. It is probably the largest library school in the world despite its location in one of the smallest countries. It has a monopoly of supplying the Danish labour markets with library professionals and other categories of library staff. It is an independent state college; it does not form part of another institution. A description is given of the state?of?the?art of the Copenhagen School and important developments in the curricula are touched upon.
For some years there has been an urgent need for reforms and far?reaching changes in the Danish library education scene, and a solution to this problem finally seems to be ahead in that the Ministry of Cultural Affairs has appointed a committee to prepare a revision of the library educational programmes.
The activities of the Aalborg Branch of the Royal School of Librarianship which was established in 1973 are explained in a separate article. The Aalborg Branch operates within the same legislative framework as the School in Copenhagen, but in a number of central areas it has developed its own profile. This has i.a. something to do with its location in a geographical area characterized by many small libraries.

The current Danish library education scene reflects a marked differentiation and specialization. A variety of programmes exist ranging from the courses for public librarians, non?academic librarians employed by research and special libraries, and research librarians (graduate or subject specialist librarians) to the course for school librarians which is organized by the Royal School of Educational Studies.
The Roval School of Librarianship consisting of the School in Copenhagen and ? as from September 1973 ? a branch in Aalborg (Northern Jutland) is the oldest school in Scandinavia. It is an independent state college of librarianship with nationwide educational responsibilities. Thus, it is the only chartered authority in Denmark in charge of educational activities in the various fields of librarianship.
The school established by the Ministry of Education by Act No. 32 of 1956 is now governed by the revised law No. 232 of 8 June 1966 and the minor amendments in Act No. 167 of 17 March 1976.
Under the Royal School of Librarianship Act, the School (which is belonging under the Ministry of Cultural Affairs) is divided into two sections.
Section I is in charge of the education of students qualifying for positions as librarians in public libraries (durable of 4 years), together with the public library?oriented continuing and further education course work, and other public library courses and seminars.
Section II provides education for students qualifying for appointments in university, research, and special libraries (durable of 4 years) and organizes a postgraduate course for research librarians (durable of one semester).
Also offered within the sphere of Section II are short courses and seminars aimed at different categories of research library staff. Hence, it follows that the Danish Library School's extensive responsibilities also cover the training of other categories of staff, including nonand semiprofessional library personnel, and also the staff members of the public archives.
Since 1967 the Copenhagen School is located at Amager and accommo-dated in premises covering about 12.000 m2.
The Aalborg Branch is accommodated in the group of buildings in which the University Centre of Aalborg and the Aalborg University Library are housed. The Branch has about 4.000 m2 at its disposal. The library stocks of the School number about 91.000 vols. (1982).
At present the annual intake of new students for the two 4 years programmes is fixed at 280 (by decision of the Minister of Culture) distributed as follows: 80 in Aalborg and 200 in Copenhagen. The section II programme for professional librarians which is solely organized by the Copenhagen School is normally dimensioned for 40 ? 60 students.
The admission of new students to the School is based on a numerous clausus system which implies a selection of candidates according to a set of prescribed criteria and regulations.
For the academic year 1981/82 the total student enrollment is as follows: men: 310; women: 916; totals: 1.226. To this figure should be added the participants in the research librarianship course (15 ? 20).
The teaching staff employed by the Copenhagen School numbers about 53 full-time faculty members and 27 part?time teachers. The ratio at the Aalborg Branch is 20 full?time and 5 part?time staff members.
The funds for the operation of the School are derived from the state, i.e. through the Appropriation Act. The allocation for the fiscal year 1981 amounted to about 31 million Danish crowns.

The public library?oriented programme ? to be detailed below ? is mainly of a theoretical nature. It includes, however, a practical training element of about 9 months' duration altogether. Built into the programme is a core of classic library studies components such as reference, bibliography, cataloguing, classification, library administration, library legislation, book selection, library history, children's librarianship. This grouping of subjects are complemented by a range of more <<specific>> courses offered in fields such as library sociology and dissemination of culture, fiction and literary history, audio?visual media and materials, computer applications, and organization of knowledge and subject literature.

The courses introducing the students to the library materials, the in-formation sources and reference aids have for many years assumed a firm position in the programmes and training courses. The materials courses ? primarily reference, fiction, and the complex of courses covered by the umbrella designation <<Organization of knowledge and subject litera-ture>> still have a considerable share of the total amount of instruction periods allocated to the Section I?programme.
From the Autumn semester 1974 the reference and bibliography courses were reorganized to form a joint course within both sections of the School.
A wide range of elective courses are offered within the broad framework of <<Organization of knowledge and subject literature>> with coverage of the whole universe of subject disciplines. Counterparts in foreign library schools to the discipline <<Organization of knowledge and subject litera-ture>> may be labelled for instance Sources of information and subject bibliography>> Resources in the humanities, <<Literature of the social sciences>>, etc. The present structure of this system of optional courses was launched in January 1972 leading to an extension of the number of lessons available for the options scheme.
In Copenhagen the teaching of organization of knowledge and subject literature is backed up by a number of well developed laboratory collections (departmental libraries).
The teaching of literary history and fiction is a unique feature of the Danish Library School; probably the School is alone in offering courses in this field compared with library schools in other countries. The courses on fiction aim at imparting knowledge to students on the development and present state of the literature including knowledge of not only authors of literary value, but also typical, popular, and contemporary writers. The instruction covers literary eras, different literary types and genres and authors. The course offered during the first part of the public library programme is devoted to the typology of fiction.
During the second part of the programme students are expected to select from a variety of fictional courses.
The 1980?offerings in fiction (60 lessons each) covered the following themes: Book selection in fiction, screen versions of fiction, woman writers, the literary system in Denmark, modern Danish literature, light fiction, and modern Scandinavian literature.

During recent years efforts have been made to restructure the second part of the public library programme (4th, 5th and 7th semester) in order to allow for a higher degree of coherence, flexibility and interdisciplinarity.
To accomplish this purpose attempts were made at strengthening and interlinking the formation studies elements of the public library programme.
Co?operation between subject fields and integration courses also apply to library administration and mediation of culture.
Students participating in the instruction contributed jointly by the two subject fields are involved in project work that may centre on for instance the planning and development of library service as well as the cultural life in a selected provincial municipality. The project work has culminated in excursions to selected communities enabling the students who are accompanied by their teachers to do "field work", including data collection, observations, etc.

The rapid development in the field of library applications of electronic data processing and computerized information retrieval makes great claims on the School in terms of providing an up?to?date instruction that prepares the practicing as well as the future library and information professionals for qualified handling and utilization of the new technology. In recent years consideration has been given to developing and refining the instruction in libraries and computers and computerized information systems. Software packages and instructional models and in-house databases has been created, and the school has provided the resources for the purchase of additional equipment for the computer laboratory. An on?line capability facilitating the demonstration and teaching of interactive bibliographic searching has been installed; this means that the databases offered by commercial services such as Lockheed (DIALOG), SDC (ORBIT), ESA/RECON or SCANNET/Telepac can be accessed through on?line terminals available in the computer laboratory. The possibilities for conducting EDP?development projects were improved through the purchase of a mini-computer (NORD 100) in 1979.

During the third part of the study programme a more thorough instruction is given in subjects selected for special study within the broad field of librarianship and information work. Such course offerings which vary from year to year in terms of the themes to be dealt with allow for the study of specialisms, recent developments in the library and information field and emerging areas of work as well as the transmitting of results gained through faculty research.
Recent examples of such advanced optional courses that call for more independent and investigative contributions from the students are: Humour and satire in fiction; Librarianship in a developing country (Tanzania), including a field trip; The combined public and school library - a possibility of decentralization in times of zero growth?; Cataloguing and classification in special libraries; User instruction: Local studies collections, Community information; On-line information searching.

The Section II?curriculum reflects and prepares for the professional library work and activities in all departments of libraries possessing highly specialized collections of scientific literature and materials, for instance the National Library, university and larger special libraries as well as libraries in educational institutions and in industrial enterprises.
The subject specialists, with university or similar degrees, are generally appointed for and employed in the departments of acquisitions and advanced information and documentation services needed in research and higher education, including use of online accessible databases.
In 1978 the structural framework of the Section II?course was adjusted to allow for an extension of the theoretical components coupled with a reduction of the trainee service period. The revised Section II?course now consists of 3 years of theoretical studies and 1 year's practicum thus equalling the structure of the public library?oriented course.
Field work elements also occur during the theoretical part of the programme (the 3rd semester) in that ?as an innovative feature ? student groups visit research libraries and prepare reports on the interiors, design, facilities, services, etc. as encountered by a library user. The reports are drawn upon as examination requirements in the course on service to readers.

An emergent factor is the introduction of innovatory instructional approaches such as group?pursued study and project?centred learning. Besides, emphasis is increasingly put on crossdisciplinary and co?operative approaches as well as integration and work in broader contexts for the purpose of ensuring optimal relations between subjects in the curriculum.
At present, class instruction and seminars have a dominating place in the teaching activities, but some lecturing still occurs.
As far as teaching aids are concerned the lecturers of the School are able to draw upon a comprehensive collection of text books and compendia prepared and developed over the years.
Despite the efforts devoted to revising and updating the curricular content of courses sponsored by the Royal School of Librarianship, critical voices from the student body and members of the library profession are heard now and then. The criticism ventilated is to some extent endorsed by the faculty too. But it is also argued that a remedying of the shortcomings implies changes of the fixed structures and schedules as well as the prescribed numbers of lessons. Such changes are difficult to bring about, since they imply a revision of the orders and regulations stipulated by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
The shortcomings and critical points articulated relate to the clarification and harmonization of the aims, objectives and scope of the various curricular subjects. Also touched upon are the lack of problem orientation in instructional activities and the need for more joint courses and cross?disciplinary cooperation.
Problematic is the rather stiff frames set by the structure of classroom periods (normally 1 hours' duration). Finally, tension is focussed on the place and role of the practical training in the library educational programmes and its relations with the theoretical parts of the programme.

The need for more fundamental and far?reaching revisions and library educational reforms is anticipated by an official report (1980).
The report presents the view that the core subjects should be adjusted, theoretically as well as methodologically, to allow for an adaptation to the technological developments. Moreover, more emphasis should be put on instruction that may serve to enhance the librarians' possibilities of obtaining jobs outside the public and research libraries.
In December 1980 the Ministry of Cultural Affairs decided to appoint a committee to inquire into the basic library education programmes offered by the Royal School of Librarianship as well as its continuing education and research activities. The Ministerial committee started its work in May 1981; a report is expected to be submitted by the end of 1982.
The merging of the research libraryoriented programme with the public library education ? which appears as a major point in the terms of reference of the committee ? will be welcomed by the library world and by the School, since it is a prevailing opinion among the faculty members, and in the library profession that the shaping of a unified programme aiming at appointments in all types of libraries should receive high priority.

The Library School in Aalborg
The library school in Aalborg is a branch of the Royal School of Librarianship. Its uheadquarters", located in Copenhagen, is described in the previous article in this issue. <<Branch>> means that the two institutions have a common legislative framework. In addition, they have the same educa-tional goals and level of qualifications as well as the same conditions for admission of students. They share budget and have a common director. A principal difference between the two schools is that the Aalborg Branch only caters for the education of librarians for the public libraries.
In spite of the points of resemblance mentioned above the Aalborg Branch has a rather extensive self?government, and in a number of fields it has developed its own profile. In the article this profile will be exemplified by a number of activities.

The Aalborg library school was established in 1973. Physically, it forms part of the Aalborg University Centre with which it cooperates educa-tionally and in terms of library provision and sharing of premises. From the beginning the plan was that the Branch was to be integrated into the University Centre in some years. However, these plans have still not been implemented. This situation primarily owes to the unsettled national educational policy scene, especially in regard to the lines of development applying to the university centres.
The founding of the Aalborg Branch can, however, be viewed as an obvious result of an educational policy that aims at decentralization. In this case it means founding of educational institutions in regions previously under?supplied in terms of educational opportunities. Consequently, such regions have also to a wide extent suffered from lack of qualified candidates for the jobs.
The fact that library education has been introduced as one of the new educational offerings in Northern Jutland must i.a. be viewed in the light of a forecast on the need for librarians in the years up to 1985 presented in 1971 by a committee set up by the Danish Ministry of Cultural Affairs. The forecast drew the attention to an expected marked lack of librarians and anticipated tremendous expansions in the library field. Thus, it was found realistic to increase the annual intake of new library students of 100.
The recession that manifested itself during the 70's has unfortunately falsified the optimistic prognosis. Unemployment among librarians now constitutes one of the main problems in the Danish library sector. The resulting cuts in the annual intake of students have, as far as the Aalborg Branch is concerned, led to a reduction of the annual number of students admitted to 80 as from 198 1.
Up to now the students of the 9 previous enrollments at the Aalborg Branch represent the following geographical distribution: 95 % of the admittees come from the Western provinces of Denmark, Jutland and Funen. Since it appears that the librarians having finished their education tend to stay in the recruitment area, it seems natural to conclude that the state decentralization policy has been a success.

The prime area supplied with professional librarians educated at the Aalborg library school is characteristic in that it includes a great number of smaller libraries. In the Jutland?Funen area as a whole there are only 20 libraries that employ more than seven librarians. This implies a need for librarians with a broad spectrum of qualifications. The tasks range from the often very specialized requirements articulated in educational institutions to general information service and mediation of culture, often oriented towards special local conditions and needs.
The location of the Aalborg school in this geographical area has been an incentive to attempts at designing cross?disciplinary instructional models. Another motive is the close relations with the Aalborg University Centre that has developed forms of instruction which to a wide extent choose problems that can be identified in the factual societal conditions as their starting point.
But the crucial point has been a recognition of the fact that the greatest problem in Danish library education relates to the split of the library educational programmes into more than twenty subjects.
The introduction to these subjects often consists of a treatment of their terminology, theories, methods, institutions, and forms of publications. Al-though the subjects have very often developed a high degree of library relevance independently (cf. Leif Kajberg's previous article), the lacking relations. between subjects constitute a current problem.
From a student's point of view the study programme easily gets an atomized character. It presents itself as repetitions of a number of structurally uniform courses instead of development courses which imply work with problem areas of growing complexity.
The problem appears, so as to leave no room for doubt, in a case such as computer aspects that are offered as an independent course. But ideally, the course on libraries and computers should limit itself to providing the students with the knowledge and instrumentalities that are necessary so as to enable them to handle the basic library professional tasks in a new way. This means that libraries and computers as a subject should be integrated into cataloguing, classification and library administration and tied to the reference, literature searching and mediation and service aspects in any subject complex.
As it appears from Leif Kajberg's article, efforts are currently made to design new library educational programmes in Denmark. But since several years may pass before a revised librarianship course is a reality, there is every reason to try to eliminate some of the problems implicit in the existing library educational programmes.

The first part of the programme concentrates heavily on the teaching and testing of basic skills: cataloguing, classification, reference work and bibliography.
The second part of the programme that follows after a half year period of trainee service in a public library allows for the greatest flexibility during the study.
During the third part of the programme the students are required to submit a dissertation?like paper, and instruction is given in library administration and library history.
The goals relating to the second part studies, which cover two years, emphasize the students' gaining of insights into and acquiring of skills in subject searching, selection of materials; mediation and service aspects, and library administration.
What has been aimed at in Aalborg is to build a study programme that starts from these four professional functions rather than the traditional Aca-demic disciplinary structures. In practice a semester might be organized in a way so that for instance selection of materials constitutes the basic variable towards which all subjects should orient themselves.
The problems selected for work by a class should be so constituted that the students may get insights into the complex of problems involved by the area. Students and teachers may decide to build a collection of materials in a simulated smaller library. This implies insights into the structure of the regional or local library system of which the library in question forms a part. Also required is a knowledge of the needs and composition (target audiences) of the community, and familiarity with the requirements specified by the Library Act, including the determination of a policy in relation to the Library Act's provisions in terms of topicality, quality, and comprehensive-ness. A knowlegde is required of the material?producing institutions, of the book market coverage of subjects and types of subjects and finally of the reviewing system and of the character and limitations of the additional selection aids.
The elements mentioned above obviously belong under the wide variety of single disciplines, but by placing them into a cross?disciplinary context which arises from the fact that it is uselection of materials and not a single discipline that is governing, the elements are enabled to function in a professional context.
This way of structuring the teaching activities makes heavy demands on the group of teachers, but it is also profitable to them. It demands partly a broad professional knowledge from each faculty member and partly a close cooperation and co?ordination among the teachers.
This cooperation can be facilitated by fixing specific phases within the course: production of materials, the reviewer institution, selection processes, etc.
An approach like that reduces, however, the students' possibilities of preferring to become immersed in themes they find especially important.
Another approach to the co?ordination of single disciplines has also been tried. It implies selection of a common subject or theme for a semester. A theme must be so broad that it allows for all semester courses' realization of partial objectives within the theme.
<<Unemployment>> is an example of a theme like this, and this theme was i.a. approached by literature searching according to different models. It was illustrated historically and treated as a theme of fictional and artistic representations. The course on literary history and fiction thus concerned itself with descriptions of unemployment from the 30's and 70's. This was done in a close cooperation with the history course which examined the specialist contributions on the same periods. Also illuminated were docu-mentary ability of historical novels together with their application to educational work. Finally, unemployed persons were treated as target groups to which not only literature on unemployment, but the totality of library offerings might be made available: community information, enter-tainment, study circles, cultural events, etc.
A theme related to <<unemployment>>, but lending itself more to admini-strative approaches is <<the library and the current crisis>> which allows for models for determination of priorities and analyses of their varying consequences in relation to user clienteles and stocks.
The theme may also be service and mediation aspects in which sociological and psychological theories must be allowed a central place; another example is subject searching, etc.
Obviously, it is a decisive factor that the themes are composed so as to allow for a realization of the instructional goals. Further it must be ensured that the level of qualifications does not go down; it should rather be raised compared to the more singlediscipline-oriented model. Experience gained up to now shows that the methodological qualifications can be enhanced whereas the body of factual, ready?use knowledge tends to shrink.

The preferred way of organizing a theme semester course involves one week's introductory phase during which problem areas and problem types as well as relevant theories are introduced.
After this follows about two months' course phase during which the single subjects treat their part of the area.
The third phase is devoted to one week's problem formulation during which single students or groups of students are expected to formulate the problem they intend to attack and report on.
Finally, as the fourth phase, single groups of students are offered common instruction and guidance.
The fifth phase concentrates on evaluation.

The objectives underlying the instructional experiments sketched above can be defined as follows: an attempt is made at creating an optimal interaction between theory and practice. Obviously, this ideal also serves as the clue to other activities of the school, which primarily include continuing education and research. Below some examples of the efforts in this respect are given.

and short courses intended for librarians constitute the school's most important educational link to the library profession.
Short courses and seminars for continuing education purposes are conducted regularly by all subject fields at the Aalborg Branch. Mostly they are of one or two weeks' duration, but sometimes they may cover two months.
Offered are short courses that enable the practising librarians to update their professional knowledge.
At present on-line searching seminars are an example of a typical continuing education activially. Or more specifically: a seminar concerned with user education, a theme which has not received a systematic treatment in the library educational programme previously. At present there is an increasing demand for the teaching of user education, especially after the raising of an appropriation with the intention of employing professional librarians in the libraries of all Danish teacher training colleges.
The short courses offered by the Aalborg Branch are to a wide extent organized as workshops. A special theme may be weeding of fiction collections in various types of libraries.
A course of a more general nature deals with community analysis. This course is based on the participants' ex perience and aims at developing anc systematizing this experience. This course must be viewed in the light of the increasing support to local cultures within the framework of the state cultural policy, as a counterweight to the blurring of local and national profiles effected by the commercial production of culture. The course aims at demonstrating approaches to be adopted in the participants' own com-munities in order to fulfil this cultural policy.
Besides, it is a salient feature of this type of course that it is followed up by a two-day seminar during which the adopted work methods are evaluated and adjusted.

In the research field the situation is that themes and trends do not vary considerably from the activities in progress at the library school in Copenhagen. They range from the attacking of indexing problems, bibliographical theory, problems of systematics and terminology to sociological, historical and empirical studies on libraries, books and users.
One point should, however, be emphasized. As an attempt at developing an active research environment teachers at the Aalborg library school three years ago started a journal <<Library Work>>, jointly with librarians in the area. Three issues appear annually. The journal is theme?oriented, and some of the problem areas dealt with are identical to those treated in the theme?oriented instructional activities and in the continuing education seminars.
The journal is edited by a board that includes both librarians from the area and library school teachers. In connection with the preparation of a theme issue a week-end seminar is arranged. The way in which the work with the journal has been organized reflects the ideal of the Aalborg Branch in a very explicit way: the closest possible connection between instruction, research and the profession to ensure mutual benefit.