American Library Association (ALA) President Loida Garcia-Febo held an inspiring guest
lecture in Tritonia on the 5th of June. During the lecture, Garcia-Febo talked
about the significant role of libraries in the society. She also introduced us
to the work of ALA, libraries and librarianship in the United States and worldwide.
”Because libraries bring us together”
Libraries worldwide strive to be as including as possible, and to offer
services equally to everyone. Today information can be found everywhere, but library
workers still play an important role in organizing information and making it
accessible. Libraries have an impact on people’s lives – to educate, to find
jobs, to increase their income, to learn more about society and to participate
in developing it.
ALA is a large association with several divisions. The association is actively taking part in, taking a stand for and pointing out important topics, both regarding libraries and the society in general. ALA has several employees, which enables a diverse range of activities. They have lots of activities not directly connected to libraries. ALA aims to take part in the society on many different levels and they work actively for justice, diversity and inclusion. ALA focuses on marketing and the association is active on social media. Some of their established hashtags are #LibrariesStrong, #Together and #LibrariesTransform.
Garcia-Febo repeatedly points out how important libraries are in the modern society. The Center for the future of libraries identifies relevant trends for libraries and library workers, divided into seven categories. Their website includes more information on why these trends develop and why they are essential for the libraries.
“We are creating the future of libraries every day.”
After the lecture, we
got a brief interview with Garcia-Febo. We discussed her thoughts about the
future challenges of libraries and librarianship.
that the attitude towards libraries is good in general. “Libraries are all
about people” – the library will always be relevant because we focus on people.
Librarians are the link between information and the people seeking information.
Garcia-Febo believes that if we market ourselves by emphasizing how we help
people find, analyze and use information, we could get more support from decision
makers and members of the society. Library workers of the future need to be
creative, curious and flexible, and want to work with people. She also
highlights the importance of working together, not only within the organization
and on a regional level, but also on a national and international level.
cannot take the librarians out of the equation, it would be incomplete”
greetings to university boards regarding funding and the future of academic
libraries are that libraries are at the center of research, student retention
and the university success rate. Libraries need to be given resources to move
forward with the mission of supporting the university. The library is a part of
the ecosystem of the university. You cannot take the
librarians out of the equation, it would then be incomplete.
does the future of the book look like? Garcia-Febo believes that books will be
an essential part of our lives even in the future. However, she thinks that we
will primarily listen to audiobooks and that textbooks will mainly be in e-book
If you are interested in ALA´s activities, you can subscribe to their newsletter Read for later.
Information literacy (IL) has been taught
in various forms all through my long working career and a long time before
that. Early views of necessary learning content were connected with library
use, information society skills, and supporting the information searchers’ own
Technological development around early
1990’s made electronic information sources more reachable to end-users. As a
consequence, higher education (HE) teachers started to expect their students to
find information for their assignments independently. While assisting students
in doing their searches, librarians and information specialists soon noticed
that students tried to use natural language in the library and internet search
engines. The outcomes of searches of that kind were either empty result sets or
abundance of inaccurate hits, which caused a lot of frustration among students.
Therefore librarians and information specialists started to deliver their own
expertise namely database operation principles and information search skills to
students and research personnel.
I believe that efficient information
retrieval requires a special ‘information specialist mindset’, which consists
of three elements. Firstly, electronic search engines hardly ever look for
semantic words. To the search engines, words which in our minds have specific
meanings are just character strings.
Bearing that in mind, searchers can more easily understand how words can
and should be truncated and combined with each other. Secondly, knowing the
contents of information sources, e.g. databases, helps in finding the right
kind of information which can then be evaluated according to the desired use.
The third part concerns information use according to the ACRL IL standard i.e. the
ethical and legitimate use of information by taking into account economic,
legal, and social aspects.
The information specialist mindset is still
well-founded and the required skills are justified. Banks (2013) states that in the 2010’s Internet has changed the practises of
creating, disseminating, and evaluating information. Scientific databases
include information for scientists but locating it requires skills mentioned in
connection with the mindset. Increasing open publishing allows all to access
reliable scientific information but it is scattered among inaccurate and even
false information, which should be identified. The 2015 IL framework (ACRL 2015) state that in addition to the previously mentioned IL skills it is
important to understand the overall production process of information.
From the engineering viewpoint, design
problems have become more complex than before. Solving them also requires a
different mindset. One example are new and developed materials, which consist
of different elements and behave differently compared with earlier ones.
Therefore, some previously used standards do not apply any more. Moreover,
sustainability must be taken into account in all research and design tasks
which means that engineers can no longer examine their problems only from the
viewpoint of their own discipline. The mindset change sets new requirements to
engineering education but IL education must also change.
Many libraries struggle with IL education
resource problems. How to meet the claims set by increasing student population,
new multidisciplinary contents in substance education, and changes in IL
education which is trying to find its place and shape in the new HE curricula
while the Library’s own resources decrease?
In my organization, the basis of the
solution to the resource problems is in integrating IL education into substance
courses either as online teaching or in form of brief classroom sessions. The
IL mindset which is central in IL education emphasizes understanding that
students are seeking reliable and the right kind of information to find a
solution to their research problem and that information searching is a crucial
part of the research process. Searching skills are, of course, necessary but
the main point is in the connection of information with the substance. The IL
instructor guides students towards the right multidisciplinary and
sustainable-centered information seeking by asking them relevant supporting
Do students reach all necessary IL learning
outcomes during brief IL education? This was one of the research questions in
my doctoral dissertation (Talikka 2018). I studied the effects of brief
integrated IL education on, in particular, mechanical engineering students’
ability to understand the nature of research i.e. looking for a solution to their
research problem and using the retrieved information to create new information.
On the mechanical engineering seminar
course, which I studied in my dissertation, students wrote a seminar paper and made
a poster based on literature search. They were supposed to find the most
sustainable materials for a given solution. In the integrated, standard format
IL lecture, I emphasized the IL mindset in understanding the multidisciplinary
research problem as well as in information searching and in creating new
knowledge. The pursued learning outcome was the new way of thinking: Firstly,
the students should understand how their research problem concerns partly
mechanical engineering and partly sustainability science. They should be able
to find the right kind of multidisciplinary material and use it in creating new
knowledge. Secondly, search skills were taught according to the letter-chain
principle which made it easier to understand how words were truncated and connected
to build search queries.
In a blind research, substance teachers
gave higher grades for research problem definitions to research group students
than they gave to the comparison group. According to my own observations, the
number of central, research-problem-related terms was larger in the research
group compared with the comparison group. Also the information search methods
used by the research group had produced more accurate search results. The
citation evaluations proved that the research group used more recent
publications among which there was a higher percentage of scientific journals.
Another part of my research concerned changes
in students’ definitions of their research problems and the respective
information search questions. Students defined them in three stages: before IL
education, after the classroom lecture, and when the project was finished.
According to the classifications created for this research, students’
definitions of their research problems and information search questions matured
towards deeper and more multidisciplinary understanding of the problem. Their
papers also included skills, which are listed as key learning outcomes in
international quality assurance organizations’ (ASIIN 2011, O’Hern 2012)
criteria and the 2015 IL frames (ACRL 2015).
When brief IL education is integrated into
mechanical engineering and sustainability science curricula students learn to
understand the importance of reliable information and gain abilities to find
and use it in solving multidisciplinary problems. One of the central findings
in this doctoral study was that it is possible to influence the scientific
level of students’ assignments in higher education. IL education can also have
and important effect on students’ mindset in significant social matters – in
this case recognizing sustainability problems and their solutions.
Based on this research we can also argue
that brief integrated IL education saves library personnel’s time when IL
lectures and learning assignments are part of substance education. For example,
there is no need to allocate time for grading IL learning assignments. Saving
time does not concern only the library staff; on multidisciplinary courses teaching
time of substance experts is also saved as students appear to acquire knowledge
from outside their own discipline when they use information from multiple fields
The IL educators’ mindset also needs to change. In libraries, we tend to think of information literacy as our special expertise. In a way that is the case but taking it only as the library’s expertise leads to keeping IL separated from the substance teaching. The information professionals face a mindset change, because in addition to information expertise, there is an increasing need to familiarize oneself with substances taught in the core organization. To my mind, the IL teachers are HE educators who work side-by-side with other university teachers and who bring their contribution to university education with their information authority.
ACRL, 2015-last update, Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education | Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) [Homepage of Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL)], [Online] [Nov 5, 2015]. Available: http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/ilframework.
TALIKKA, M., 2018. Recognizing required changes to higher education engineering programs’ information literacy education as consequence of research problems becoming more complex, Lappeenranta University of Technology.
On 1st April 2019 the
national law concerning digital services, Laki digitaalisten palvelujen tarjoamisesta (306/2019),
came into force. According to 2§, all universities and universities of applied
sciences are included into the law’s definition of authorities. This law brings
the Directive 2016/2102 of the European
Parliament and of the Council on the accessibility of the websites and mobile
applications of public sector bodies into effect (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32016L2102).
There are no sanctions stated in the directive, but the national legislation
gives the supervising authority the right to use penalties.
In the directive, accessibility
websites, mobile applications and their content are such that everyone can use
them and understand their messages. Accessible services use techniques and
methods that make them available through different types of data equipment and
assistive technologies. Accessibility can be described as easy accessible
digital services that are available also for persons with disabilities.
is an essential part of the “design for all” principle. According to this
principle all types of users and their needs are taken into account already
when planning the service. The goal is to guarantee equal possibilities for all
users to make the most of digital services, despite sight and hearing capacity,
disruption of motor functions or other functional limitations. (Free translation of
Finansministeriet: Vanliga frågor om tillgänglighet och tillgänglighetskrav, https://vm.fi/sv/vanliga-fragor-om-tillganglighetskrav)
Websites published on 23th September 2018 or later must
meet the accessibility demands no later than 23th September 2019.
Websites published before 23th September 2018 must meet
the accessibility demands no later than 23th September 2020.
Mobile applications must meet the
accessibility demands on 23th June 2021.
PDF-files and other documents:
websites published BEFORE 23th September 2018
published 23th September 2018 or later must be available in September 2020.
published before 23th September 2018 do not need to meet the accessibility
demands with the exception of PDF-files in administrative processes, e.g.
published on 23th September 2018 or later the PDF-files must be available in
Besides websites and mobile
applications, the academic libraries must overlook the production and
publishing processes of theses, as well as videos and other audiovisual
material presenting the library’s services.
The university library is usually
managing the institutional repository where theses are published. In order to
fulfil the accessibility demands these PDF-files must be readable with
different types of technical devices. Celia – a national center for accessible
literature and publishing in Finland – has collected some instructions for how
to create PDF-files, and other office programme file types, so that assistive
technologies can make use of them: https://www.saavutettavasti.fi/saavutettavat-tiedostot/
(only in Finnish). The recommended PDF-file format, PDF/UA, is compatible with
the PDF/A-file format used for archiving.
According to the information on
the website of the Ministry of Finance, all audiovisual material that will be
made available for longer than 14 days on the websites of the authorities, must
be subtitled in Finnish and Swedish, and when necessary, also in other
languages, e.g. Sami, English and sign language. This applies to, for instance,
video recordings and podcasts. If subtitling is not possible, the content should
be explained in another manner, e.g. in text format. Exceptions are made for
live broadcasts and video recordings made available before the directive took
effect on 22nd December 2016. Read more about the accessibility for
time-dependent media content in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines
I want to thank the members of FUN
for their confidence in me, as I was elected chair of our network for the
FUN was reorganized in 2018 from a
council to a network. At the same time, the new name FUN Finnish University
Libraries’ Network was introduced, as was the new logo and motto: “Fun –
From the beginning of 2019, the
number of members in FUN has decreased to fourteen, as two universities in
Tampere and their libraries have merged. The new Tampere University Library
serves both the universities and Tampere University of Applied Sciences. As the director of Tritonia, a joint library
since 2001, I warmly welcome Tampere University Library also to the community
of joint libraries.
I participated in writing the FUN
strategy for 2018-20, and halfway through the strategy period I am pleased to
note that the main themes – Impact – Visibility – Experiment – are more
relevant than ever. There is still a lot
of work to be done in these fields. Emphasizing the impact and expertise of the
university libraries requires ability to make our competence visible. During the following period, we aim to start
building a toolkit for impact and to benchmark international practises. The
challenges of the university libraries are to a great extent the same for all
universities, also internationally. On a national and global level, it is a
waste of resources to try solving problems alone. During 2009-2016 I was a
member of IFLA:s Continuing Professional Development and Workplace Learning
Section, and those years strengthened my opinion on the need for continuous
learning and for networking.
The open science megatrend and the
acts to promote it, such as Plan S of European research funding organizations,
are fundamentally affecting our operational environment. The business models of licensed e-resources
have diversified and nowadays there are a variety of open access models available,
where producing and publishing data form the basis for costs. The university
libraries want to promote open access solutions which are easy to use for the
researchers, sustainable, and responsible. The university libraries also want
to promote students’ science education for openness, through multi-step
information literacy education.
In autumn 2018, the coordination for
open science was initiated in Finland, including preparations for national open
science policies and action programmes. It is essential that the experts at
university libraries are actively participating in this work. In Acatiimi 2/2019, there is an article (in
Finnish) about open science services and competence needs in university
libraries, written by colleagues at University of Eastern Finland (Rosti, Saarti
& Silvennoinen-Kuikka) http://www.acatiimi.fi/2_2019/7.php.
Continuous learning is vital for all
of us in order to master research data management, data mining, AI,
blockchains, as well as many other phenomenons, not even invented yet. Let us
do it connectively!
The proliferation of open access publishing models in academic publication provides researchers and the academic community with opportunities to share and access academic information faster and more flexibly than before. Finnish institutions of higher education and research institutes are currently negotiating with academic publishers to enable the efficient use of open publication methods. “Our goal is to simultaneously ensure that the overall costs of academic publication do not increase,” states Mikael Laakso, assistant professor at the Hanken School of Economics and member of the strategy group for the negotiations.
Libraries give researchers help and support with open science (photo: Jussi Männistö)
The Ministry of Education and Culture has stated as its goal that Finland will become one of the leading countries in the openness of science and research by 2017. “To reach this goal, we must rapidly transition from subscription-based licensing agreements towards new, open access publishing models,” says Laakso.
Overlapping expenses must be minimised
Currently, institutions of higher education and research institutes pay for academic publications through subscription fees. In an open access model, the author or the author’s organisation pays for the publication of an article. The overall expenses of publication must be examined, as particularly large publishers currently favour hybrid publication, in which a researcher whose article has been accepted for publication in a subscription-based journal can pay a separate publication fee to make his or her article open access. It is important for researchers to publish in journals which are esteemed by the academic community, even if making the article open access requires a separate fee. This model of article fees, however, generates overlapping expenses, unless the publisher correspondingly lowers the subscription fees for the journals in question.
The National Library’s FinELib consortium, which represents institutions of higher education and research institutes in the negotiations, has insisted that the hybrid model, which involves both subscriptions and article fees, be considered an interim solution on the way to full open access publishing. During this transition period it is essential that overlapping expenses from the new open access model and the old subscription model are minimised.
Aiming for a contract with integrated support for open access publishing
The subscription fees for academic journals represent an annual expense of about €23 million for institutions of higher education and research institutes. The exact costs of open access publishing are unknown as they are not monitored in Finland on a national level. However, according to estimates from the project Tieteen avoin julkaiseminen (Open Publication of Science in Finland), in 2014 Finnish universities paid at least €1 million to publish open access articles, and these expenses are on the rise.
Open access models which would be both financially sustainable and easy for researchers are currently also being sought internationally. At the moment, several international campaigns promoting open access are underway, including the Christmas is over campaign organised by the League of European Research Universities and undersigned by several Finnish institutions of higher education. Dutch universities, for example, have been able to negotiate package deals with the major publishers Springer and Wiley which facilitate open access publishing.
Libraries to support open access
Researchers can find support for open access publishing from the library of their organisation as well as the many open access resources online, such as: