The upper secondary school library services have traditionally been provided by and developed with the public libraries. In our view also the academic libraries, with their special expertise and digital resources, should take part in the teaching of pre-academic information skills. Students now entering upper secondary school are already digital natives, brought up in a digitally rich environment. However, being born into the Internet era doesn’t automatically make these generations information literate, as a recent study conducted in Finland suggests. On the contrary, these skills are something that needs to be taught (Kiili, 2012).
Collaborating for the Support of Information Literacy
A joint library is usually a library for several independent universities and polytechnics, and its operation is based on a contract between its parent institutions (Palonen et al, 2013: 224). However, we are stretching this definition by also co-operating with the region’s educational institutions of both vocational and upper secondary levels. The Information and Library services are developed and maintained in collaboration with Lahti University of Applied Sciences (LUAS), Salpaus Further Education and Lahti University Campus, with its units of three different universities. This collaboration of different educational institutions has several advantage points, which help make the joint library an integral and natural part of the whole educational continuum.
Students entering vocational or upper secondary education will immediately become familiar with the higher education library services, as each group of new students will be welcomed to the library. Printed collections and most of the services as well as local use of the digital resources of three universities (LUAS, University of Helsinki, Aalto University) are available to all users. The Joint Library also offers information literacy teaching to both students and staff of all educational levels; as a result, our staff has gained extensive experience and expertise in information literacy teaching, making it possible to further develop teaching and guiding methods and tailor them to best meet the needs of the different student groups.
To further promote the development of pre-academic skills, we have recently teamed up with Lahti’s Kannas Upper Secondary School’s new IB-programme which, with its critical, innovative and scientific focus, is an excellent starting point for learning the information skills needed in later academic studies. This collaboration will support the study paths of students from the IB-programme to universities and make sure their knowledge and skills in information literacy are gradually developing together with other areas of their studies.
The Joint Library on Wheels: case Linkku
Although Lahti is the regional center of the Päijät-Häme province, only half of the regions’ population actually lives here: the other half are scattered around the province. So how could the upper secondary school students and other potentials users, who are living in the more remote areas of the region, benefit from the services of a joint library? Our answer is to put these services on wheels.
LINKKU is a smartbus project that tests a multipurpose, mobile service unit in the Päijät-Häme region. The project is being carried out by Lahti University of Applied Sciences, together with Salpaus Further Education, Learning Centre Fellmannia and several of the region’s social and health care service providers. LINKKU visits the region’s smaller towns and villages, providing different services on different weeks.
Amongst other things, LINKKU is also a new kind of learning environment on wheels. With advanced ICT and networks, it makes the licensed digital collections of LUAS available to students, teachers and other learners in the whole Päijät-Häme region. Expert services, such as the Information Skills Clinic, will also be made available either physically, with an information specialist on board, or virtually as an online service. The aim is to create an equal opportunity for learning information literacy, regardless of where one is located.
This new environment also calls for an upgrade in teaching, which is why we are developing new methods of teaching pre-academic information and media literacy skills to upper-secondary school students. The aim is to make learning these skills more interesting and appealing to the Google Generation by using serious gaming and participatory design.
This is also where the previously mentioned collaboration with Kannas Upper Secondary School comes into play. As one part of this collaboration, we are planning to create a futuristic and mobile Information Skills Clinic together with the IB-students. This Mobile Information Skills Clinic will also pilot several new learning games, and the students themselves will participate as developers and testers. These learning games will in time be available online, so anyone can participate, regardless of their location.
It is our view that academic libraries have an important role in supporting and promoting knowledge creation and the development of pre-academic information literacy skills of the so-called Google Generation. In our experience, the best results are made by collaborating widely with educational institutions of different levels, and by creating equal opportunities and new ways for access and learning. At its best, this can be done together with the most important group of our users, the students.
The article is based on the paper The Joint Higher Education Library of Lahti: Confluencing for Academic Knowledge – Supporting the Study Paths from Upper Secondary School to University presented at the IFLA WLIC 2014 conference in Lyon, France. Original paper available at http://library.ifla.org/949/.
Johanna Kiviluoto, Information Specialist, M.A., Lahti University of Applied Sciences firstname.lastname@example.org
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Jones, C. and Shao, B., 2011. The net generation and digital natives: implications for higher education. Higher Education Academy, York. http://oro.open.ac.uk/30014/1/Jones_and_Shao-Final.pdf [cited 9.5.2014]
Kannaksen lukio, 2014. IB in English. https://kannaksenlukio.fi/web/ib-in-english/ [cited 4.2.2014]
Kiili, C. 2012. Online Reading as an Individual and Social Practice. Jyväskylä Studies in Education, Psychology and Social Research 441. http://dissertations.jyu.fi/studeduc/9789513947958.pdf
LINKKU-projekti, 2013. Päijät-Hämeen koulutuskonserni -kuntayhtymä, Lahden ammattikorkeakoulu, TKI-, KV- ja aluekehityspalvelut. http://www.lamk.fi/alybussi/Sivut/default.aspx [cited 4.2.2014]
Palonen, V., Blinnikka, S., Ohvo, U. & Parikka, S. 2013. Joint Academic Libraries in Finland: Different Models of Integration, in Woodsworth, A. & Penniman, W. (ed.) Mergers and Alliances: The Operational View and Cases (Advances in Librarianship, Volume 37), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.223-242. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/books.htm?issn=0065-2830&volume=37&chapterid=17097126