Boelens, Helen Session Pp Virtual Journey In 61 European Contries
Presented at the
IASL 2009 Annual Conference
Abano Terme (Padua), Italy, 2 - 4 September 2009
38th Annual Conference incorporating the 13th International Forum on Research in School Librarianship
Helen Boelens, Ph.D. Research student, Middlesex University, London, U.K.
It is a European (international) study.
A positive study makes it possible to
present research to the international
community (EU, and other international organisations).
It has both educational and political
International definitions are needed:
◦ What is a school library?
◦ What is its purpose?
Gates, 1968: ‘The purpose of school libraries has always been to
support instruction in the school’.
Clyde, 1981: ‘While the school library is a widely occurring
institution which most people readily identify and understand, its
history tends to be treated in the literature as a subsidiary part of
the history of the public or children’s library, or as minor aspect of
What do pupils learn in the school
Who runs the school library?
Difficulties in collecting data;
Verified by other international
School libraries in countries which were part of the
former U.S.S.R, or
School libraries which came under communist influence
after World War 2.
How can these school libraries be described: facilities,
etc. compared with other countries in this survey? When
were they set up?
Do they comply with the IFLA School Library Manifesto?
Albania : 1700 school libraries
Armenia : 1353 school libraries
Azerbaijan : No information received
Belarus : No information received
Bosnia & Herzegovina : 204 school libraries
Bulgaria (2 figures received: 1465 or 2599 school libraries
Croatia : 1264 school libraries
Czech Rep. : 4151 school libraries
Estonia : 451 school libraries
Rep. of Georgia : No information received
Germany (former DDR) : See country report Germany
Hungary : 4347 school libraries
Kazakhstan : 6852 school libraries
Kyrgyzstan : 2133 school libraries
A total of approx. 140,000 school libraries.
Latvia : 1099 school libraries
Lithuania : 1312 school libraries
Rep. of Macedonia : No information received
Moldava : 1433 school libraries
Poland : 15200 school libraries
Romania : No information received
Russia : 66000 school libraries
Serbia : 1700 school libraries
Slovakia : 5483 school libraries
Slovenia : 648 school libraries
Tajikistan : No information received
Turkmenistan : No information received
Ukraine : 20600 school libraries
Uzbekistan : No information received.
Which countries are included in this survey?
Belgium (3 communities)
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Rep. of Georgia
Rep. of Ireland
Rep. of Macedonia
United Kingdom (incl.
England, Northern Ireland,
Scotland and Wales)
List of official or national languages which have been
taken into account in this study (52 languages).
Via 4 ENSIL surveys;
From both traditional and digital information
resources: Books, reports, surveys etc.;
Interviews (traditional and via Internet;
Using Web 2.0 communication
Definitions – data must be based on the same
Differences in school systems
Accurate information – other international reports reveal
Population, GNI per capita;
Education at primary and secondary school level (expenditure on education,
adult literacy, school enrolment ratios, training of teachers, compulsory
education and gross enrolment rates;
Ranking in international tests related to educational achievement;
Introduction of ICT into schools (including school library);
ICT policy in schools;
Media, information and new literacy policies;
Libraries, incl. School libraries and information centres;
General background information;
Specific information about school libraries and information centres.
What is the present state of school libraries at European level? What is
Since many of the countries in this survey do not use a specific
definition for what a school library actually is, there is no specific way
in which this question can be answered. This study has revealed a
great diversity in ‘school libraries’. Some are of excellent quality and
are run by trained personnel. Others are merely a box of books in a
school cupboard. The mission of the school library has not been
clearly defined in many countries.
What are the goals of the school library in a digital Europe?
The School Library Manifesto (IFLA/UNESCO 1999) and the School
Library Guidelines (IFLA/UNESCO 2002) define these goals in the
countries which are members of these organisation and use these
definitions. Clear English definitions (per country) of what the ‘school
library’ actually is, and how it can be defined and exists within the
present day educational process, were difficult to locate.
What is the role of school libraries and the library staff within the
school since the introduction of educational reforms, ICT and new
forms of learning into schools?
This role varies from country to country. In countries which fall into
the middle or low income bracket, emphasis is placed on the
importance of the school library, however its role is often concerned
with literacy goals and the distribution of books and textbooks. In
some countries with a high GNI per capita, the school library and the
library staff play an important role in the implementation of ICT and
new forms of learning in an interdisciplinary way throughout the
Is it possible to evaluate the effect which these school libraries have on
educational quality, learning outcomes and academic achievement, at
This would need to be the subject of a further, very specific study, at
European level. This study could be carried out, per country, using the
guidelines of earlier studies which have already taken place in the
U.S.A. and Australia. These earlier studies indicate that the school
library has a positive effect on educational quality and academic
Would it be possible to introduce the sub-matrix known as the KILM
into these school libraries?
This would be primarily dependent upon the educational vision and
leadership qualities of the school leadership. It would then depend
upon the quality of the library staff and the facilities which are
available within the school and the school library.
What facilities would be needed for a successful implementation?
These facilities may vary – the ability of the school library staff to
adjust to different facilities is the most important factor.
A. What are the critical success factors.
B. Are there other factors which are important in order to implement
the KILM throughout the school?
A. These will be described when the dissertation has been approved.
B. The co-operation between different members of the school staff,
What changes in educational quality, learning outcomes and
educational achievement could be expected?
An increase in educational quality, learning outcomes and academic
1. The quality of education, at European level is limited, per country, by various factors such as poverty,
wars and disasters, politics, educational policy and the quality of the education system, investment in
education, the academic quality of the teaching staff, the facilities which the school provides and the
attitudes of the school community, including pupils and parents.
2. The quality of the school library is only partially dependent upon the facilities or the amount of ICT
hardware or software which it has at its disposal. These facilities need to be in balance with the
educational objectives of the school (Kennisnet, 2006). These factors are co-ordinated by the school
3. Countries which have made large investments in education and also in ICT hardware and software
have not necessarily shown an increase in educational quality and academic achievement.
4. School libraries are special libraries which play an important role in two different processes – the
educational process and the library process. Co-operation between these two processes is essential
if school libraries are to be effective. School libraries no longer play a dependent role in education
and librarianship (Clyde, 1981).
5. Since the introduction of ICT within the school, the trained school librarian plays an even more
important and essential additional role - that of a school information specialist.
6. The national school library law in each country is very important. It provides clear definitions of a
“school library” and also describes the work of the school library; it provides “status” for the school
library and reduces confusion which may result in inaccurate data being forwarded to national or
7. Accurate, quality data on school libraries needs to be collected at national level, on a worldwide
8. Some countries within Europe do not have a school library tradition.
9. All libraries should support each other’s work. There should not be a competition for status or
Under certain specific circumstances and when there is co-operation within the school
community, school libraries enhance academic achievement.
The school librarian is qualified as both a teacher and a librarian. This person teaches/
instructs pupils and teachers throughout the school, and has similar status to other teachers.
The training and re-training of school librarians is imperative and must occur frequently, in
order to keep abreast of new ICT trends. The research shows that this essential training at
tertiary level no longer takes place in a number of countries, for various reasons.
School leaders and other teachers sometimes do not understand the work which the school
librarian carries out. They do not realise the many advantages of co-operation with the school
My thanks to people from many different countries and cultures, and who spoke
many different languages, who joined together with me to make this survey of
school libraries possible.
They have tried to tell the international community what school libraries in their
countries are like.
Information was provided in an atmosphere of trust and co-operation. The
researcher is very grateful for this support but is also aware of the ethical
responsibility to present this information in a fair, responsible and impartial way.
Thanks to all my virtual friends and colleagues for their co-operation.