A School Library Promotion Campaign
Topic 5: Developing an advocacy role
On 23 May 2007, the Norwegian Ministry of Education announced that a national program for school library development would be established, beginning in 2008. The Norwegian School Library Program was to run over a four-year period and focus on the school library as resource for reading instruction and for teaching information literacy. Forty million Norwegian crowns were later designated for the program. The Norwegian School Library Program was the result of long lasting and active work in which the Norwegian Library Association (NBF) was a major participant. The NBF had highlighted the need for investing in school library development for several years. The Norwegian School Library Program is now in its final year, and more than 200 projects developed across all Norwegian counties have been completed under the auspices of the program. In 2013, the NBF adopted a resolution to work for the continuation of the program and establish a permanent resource center for school libraries in Norway.
As you read the case study, think about the following issues:
- How can NGOs work to add library issues to the political agenda and to ensure that initiatives are made to develop libraries?
- The importance of building on experience-based knowledge.
- The importance of building on research-based knowledge.
Norwegian Library Association (NBF)
Norwegian Library Association (NBF) is a non-profit, independent organization aiming to promote and develop library and information services. NBF was founded in 1913, and membership is open for all welcoming NBF’s aims, individuals and institutions alike. NBF counts politicians as well as writers and librarians among its individual members and libraries, universities and municipalities among its institutional members.
NBF’s objective is to be a forceful and unifying interest group for the Norwegian library and information services sector. NBF aims to reflect the geographical and political variations of its members and carries out its work through a structure of local associations working on a regional level, special groups working within specific areas of interest, and various committees and divisions appointed by the Executive Committee.
NBF’s key priorities are:
- To argue for and emphasize the importance of libraries in the democratic process, and promote freedom of information and speech
- To ensure the principle of the free lending right, independent of technological and political changes in society
- To develop and strengthen libraries as promoters of knowledge, information and culture
- To develop and strengthen libraries in building and supporting education and as an arena for learning, research and innovation
- To promote an effective and robust library service of high quality
- To ensure development and innovation in the Norwegian library sector, including promoting the realization of a Norwegian digital library
- To build alliances and co-operate with relevant national and international organizations within the fields of research, education and culture.
NBF is a member of several international organizations such as IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) and EBLIDA (European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations). (Excerpts from NBF’s home page: http://www.norskbibliotekforening.no/index.php?c=234&kat=About+us, slightly amended)
School Library Promotion
The School Library Promotion campaign was established in 2007. This initiative was started by the Norwegian Library Association; fifteen national organizations joined. These were special interest organizations for libraries and reading, unions of librarians and teachers, author unions, the Norwegian Student Association, and parent representatives in the primary school system. The Norwegian Library Bureau, the main supplier of literature and equipment to Norwegian libraries, which is owned by Norwegian municipalities among others, was also a member and participated actively in the work.
School Library Promotion was part of an international campaign to make libraries’ role in the information society visible. This campaign – with its slogan @Your Library – was supported by the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA). The Norwegian Library Association (NBF) adopted a resolution to complete a similar campaign in Norway, and the public libraries started the campaign @Your Library in 2005. The campaign was national and worked towards reaching politicians at the national level, but it also encouraged people to work locally in order to make visible what a good school library is and what it can be.
When the School Library Promotion campaign came to an end in 2008, the Norwegian authorities had adopted a resolution to create the Norwegian School Library Program, a national program for developing school libraries as an educational tool, and also designated 40 million Norwegian crowns to fund the program.
Head of the Campaign Council Astrid Flagstad wrote the following in a newsletter at the action’s close:
I want to start this letter by retelling one of Aesop’s fables that I find relevant to the process and work we’ve been doing over the past two years. In «The Farmer and His Sons», the old dying farmer asks his sons to dig for their inheritance on the vineyard. But although they dug and searched everywhere, they found no treasure. On the other hand, because of this digging, the vines thrived and produced more grapes than ever before. The wine became famous for being the best in the country, and the sons became wealthy because of it.
This is what our campaign has been like as well. We dug and searched for the right formulas among the goals for the campaign, looking for the correct measures and instruments. We put a lot of time and effort in without knowing what we’d get in return. Now we see the fruits of our work and efforts: lasting improved frameworks for the school library, at least in the upcoming four years. Is this a reason to be happy? Absolutely! (SkolebibliotekLøftets blogg, 2007-2008)
Astrid Flagstad concluded by stating that the work in the national organizations and their contact with high-level politicians was decisive for the result. The basic material produced during the large-scale reading campaigns and a survey of Norwegian school libraries were also decisive. All three worked in combination to contribute to the establishment of a national program.
The starting point for the School Library Promotion campaign was the acknowledgement of the fact that one of the school library’s most important tasks is helping to realize schools’ educational and professional objectives. Today these objectives may be found in the Norwegian curriculum entitled Knowledge Promotion (LK06). The school library has a unique responsibility to contribute to the development of students’ basic skills. It is a major resource in projects and interdisciplinary work where students need to master the use of knowledge sources beyond textbooks and adapted sources. In addition to the school library’s traditional role as an arena for the development of students’ desire to read and increasing their reading amount and speed, there was an increased focus on the school library’s role in the development of students’ information literacy at the start of the new millennium.
The campaign had the following aims:
- Provide quality assurance for the school library as a cultural arena for reading pleasure and cultural experiences
- Integrate school libraries into schools’ educational activity
- Make school librarians more competent professionally
- Increase school librarians’ networking
- Adopt a national action plan for the school library
- Introduce quality criteria for the school library – at both the primary and upper secondary school level
- Establish a national school library competency center.
Target groups for the campaign included politicians at the local and national level, the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, and local education authorities. Furthermore, the campaign aimed at reaching school owners and school administrators, teachers and school librarians, students and parents, teacher educators, library educators, county libraries, and the library environment in general.
Organization of the campaign
The Norwegian Library Association was primarily responsible for the School Library Promotion campaign. The campaign council was the overall governing body consisting of one representative from each of the organizations involved in the campaign. The campaign council’s main task was to adopt a final resolution with regard to the campaign’s content. The representatives were responsible for informing their organizations about the campaign’s content and progress. The campaign council appointed a governing board which was responsible for performing daily operations, and the Norwegian Library Association elected the head and secretary of the board. Various task groups were responsible for different aspects of the campaign, including the establishment of a public relations (PR) group, a lobby group and an activity group. The PR group made available brochures and newsletters, the lobby group approached politicians and bureaucrats at different levels, and the activity group initiated events highlighting school library issues.
The IFLA/UNESCO School Library Guidelines were distributed to the country’s counties, municipalities and schools. The campaign council worked actively and continuously to arrange meetings with the political administration in the Ministry of Education and with education politicians in the parties in Parliament. Suggestions for the national budget were submitted, and the campaign followed up professional and political issues at local and national levels.
Three more national initiatives were important in order to add school libraries to the political agenda and to ensure the implementation of the Norwegian School Library Program: (1) "Make space for reading! Norwegian Strategy for Stimulating a Love of Reading and Reading Skills" 2003-2007; (2) Møreforsking’s survey in 2006-2007 of all Norwegian school libraries; and (3) Library Reform 2014.
Make Space for Reading! The Norwegian plan "Make space for reading! Norwegian Strategy for Stimulating a Love of Reading and Reading Skills" was started in 2003 and continued until 2007. The Ministry of Education and Research was responsible for and funded the campaign. The plan comprised systematic work with reading skills and language development, reading stimulation and literary dissemination. Make Space for Reading! led to a large investment in school libraries all over Norway. The public libraries also had a high level of participation in this initiative.
Møreforsking’s survey in 2006-2007 of Norwegian school libraries. The research center Møreforsking, on assignment from the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training completed a survey in 2006-2007 of all Norwegian school libraries at both the primary and upper secondary school levels. The 2007 report showed that, while a great deal of good work was done in school libraries, there were significant differences between the schools themselves. For example, there were challenges in connection with opening hours, staffing, and library-related competency. It was also obvious that, in several communities, school libraries needed to have their collections increased. Further, the report pointed out that deciding factors for the development of the school library as a positive and integrated teaching arena for students were firmly placing the school library in schools’ planning work and cooperation among school systems’ personnel.
Library Reform 2014. In the fall of 2006, a comprehensive report entitled Library Reform 2014 was submitted to the Norwegian Minister of Culture by the Norwegian Centre for Archives, Libraries and Museums. One of the initiatives proposed was a program for school library development. The aim was to make school libraries able to use their educational potential to a greater degree. The report used both the evaluation of Make Space for Reading! and the ongoing survey of school libraries as a basis for this recommendation.
What has been achieved? – The Norwegian School Library Program
The Norwegian School Library Program is a four-year, national project (2009-13), designed to strengthen the school library as an educational tool. The objective of the program is that school libraries be actively used in reading instruction and in the development of information literacy. The University of Agder (UiA) is managing the program on behalf of the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, and it has several prioritized areas: competency raising through studies and courses, practice-related school projects and the development of a digital idea collection as well as teaching resources on information literacy. Upon the program’s completion in August 2013, approximately 200 development projects will have been completed under its auspices. There are 105 Norwegian municipalities participating in the project, and all counties are represented as well.
Primary schools are able to apply for project funding. Project schools receive funding for one year, but have the opportunity to apply for an additional year of funding. Schools having received funding for two years have further developed their projects and are resource schools in the program. The Norwegian School Library Program prioritized primary schools for project funding, because the program has not had resources for all schools. The survey of Norwegian school libraries that Møreforsking completed in 2006-2007showed that the primary schools had the least amount of resources for their school libraries. The upper secondary schools had, to a greater degree, qualified staff members and a more comprehensive time resource allocated to school librarians. There was also a great difference between the two school levels with regard to funding of facilities and collection development.
However, Møreforsking’s survey showed no conclusive connection between resources allocated to school libraries and the degree to which the school library was utilized for teaching. The report confirmed that the most important factors for the school library being actively integrated in school were: receiving support from school administrators, implementing plans for library use, and having a school culture allowing the inclusion of resources (such as library resources). Teachers’ attitudes were decisive: in order for the school library to be actively used, teachers had to plan its use in their instruction. These findings from Møreforsking’s survey form the background for the Norwegian School Library Program’s requirement that the principal be project manager and that the entire project group, including the principal, school librarian and participating teachers, must enroll in a continuing education course under the auspices of the program. The projects place great emphasis on achieving good forms of cooperation.
Commitment on the part of the school owner, the municipality, has been equally important. It was the school owners that prioritized the project applications from the schools and then submitted the applications to the program. This two-stage application process has assured that both schools and municipalities have been forced to reflect upon the school libraries’ roles and tasks. Moreover, there has been an incentive in the process to think of joint solutions in the municipality, between schools and between schools and public libraries.
Two websites have been developed during the program period. The website www.skolebibliotek.uia.no provides continuous information about the development projects and program activity. Articles about Norwegian and Nordic school library development are also published here. The website www.informasjonskompetanse.no provides ideas for teaching strategies with respect to information literacy, examples of completed projects and web-based tasks. It also provides progressive testing with relevant curriculum competency objectives and suggestions for learning objectives in information literacy. The collection of ideas and examples of completed projects will be gradually expanded.
The campaign entitled School Library Promotion, undertaken by the Norwegian Library Association (NBF), was decisive in the establishment of a national program for school library development in Norway. A series of projects have been completed under the auspices of the Norwegian School Library Program. The project and resource schools have developed several different models showing the use of school libraries as a teaching method. In their reports, the schools point to two decisive success factors: the principal has been project manager and the entire project group has participated in the continuing education courses under the auspices of the program. Knowledge dissemination is an important part of the tasks carried out by the project schools, and the experiences from the program will help provide a basis for further school library development in Norway.
The Norwegian Library Association adopted a resolution in 2012 to work towards continuing the program’s tasks, and its objective is to establish a permanent resource center for school libraries in Norway (http://www.bibliotekforum.no/article.php?id=2691).
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Ingvaldsen, S. (2011). Focus on reading education and information literacy: The Norwegian School Library Program. In L. Marquardt & D. Oberg, Global perspectives on school libraries: Projects and practices (pp. 254-263). IFLA Publications 148. Berlin: De Gruyter Saur.
Norsk Bibliotekforening (2013). NLA - Norwegian Library Association. About us. Available at: http://www.norskbibliotekforening.no/index.php?c=234&kat=About+us.
SkolebibliotekLøftets blogg (2007-2008). Available at: http://fradittbibliotek.wordpress.com.
Last update: 3 July 2015