Ari Muhonen, the director of Jyväskylä University’s Open Science Centre, has been elected as FUN’s next chair for the term 2021-2022.
Earlier in his career, Ari has worked as the director of University of Helsinki’s Viikki Campus Library, as well as the head librarian at Aalto University and Helsinki University of Technology. Ari is also an experienced author. Ari previously served as the chair of FUN’s predecessor, Council for Finnish University Libraries, for the term 2005-2006.
FUN is participating in organising the annual Bibliometrics Seminar, which is going to be held as a webinar on 22.9.2020. The theme of the event is “Considering the diversity of publishing along with different sources of information and research methods in research evaluation”.
The seminar is bilingual: some speeches will be held in English, others in Finnish.
According to our new strategy, FUN started to put an effort to internationalization. FUN also made history with organising the first joint meeting ever with Nordic colleagues. It is natural, of course, to begin with the neighbours. Besides, the Nordic university systems are quite similar to each other. We also share the same culture and values. Because there is a Finnish chairperson in NUAS Library Group, Pia Södergård, the contact with our Nordic friends was easily established. Pia Södergård actually founded the NUAS Library Group and has been the chairperson from the beginning.
NUAS is a
network for Nordic university employees, especially for us who don´t do
research or teaching. NUAS means “Nordic Association of University
Administrators”. NUAS´ activities are meant for NUAS member universities. NUAS
has 13 working groups and one of them is the Library Group. It has nine members
from NUAS member universities: two from each country, except for Iceland, which
has one member. I have been the second Finnish member from the beginning.
Library Group had already chosen Rovaniemi and University of Lapland as the
place for the autumn meeting, and that is why also the joint meeting was organised
in Rovaniemi, at the University of Lapland´s Arctic Center.
working group succeeded in getting it all together: the joint meeting, the
separate meetings for FUN and NUAS, something nice to do while the other group
had its meeting and a dinner together. While
we were at the Arctic Circle in Lapland, we naturally provided everyone the
possibility to enjoy the nature of Lapland on an excursion.
of the library, which everybody considered as an important theme, was chosen as
a theme for the joint meeting. The best expert in Finland, Jarmo Saarti, gave
us an introduction to the subject; libraries are going towards a multimodal
evaluation. Afterwards we worked in small groups (Learning Café) with several
underthemes, and at the end of the meeting we watched an online presentation
from Rome, where Hanna-Mari Puuska, Janne Pölönen and Vidar Roeggen told us
about a Nordic initiative for a new Nordic Publication Information
What did we
gain from the joint meeting? In my opinion, it is very important to learn to
know each other, especially if we will continue the co-operation. It is also essential
that we all learn more about each others´conditions and circumstances. And it
is always a good idea to learn about your colleagues´ views and opinions on common
also noticed that we together could produce many ideas about the impact of
libraries, which we can continue working with. There are similar developing
perspectives in all countries, but each country also has its own
characteristics. We also noticed that there are many other meaningful subjects
that we can work together with in the future. NUAS Library Group has already
helped us with this. Last summer the group made a survey for all Nordic leaders
of academic libraries. On that basis, the group has started planning workshops
on current topics for Nordic leaders of academic libraries.
You have to prioritize – nobody can use all her working time for Nordic co-operation – unfortunately.
past summers, Tritonia Academic Library in Vaasa has been open all summer long.
During summer, there are restricted opening hours and more self-service, but
the reading rooms can be accessed as usual, for example. Statistically, there
are much less visitors in summer compared to the busiest months during autumn.
However, there is still a demand for a place to sit and study during summer,
and numerous hardworking students can be found in the library throughout the
summer. We have noticed at the service desk that both the customers and the
questions they have are different in summer than during the academic year. This
is because we have more external customers in summer, students from other parts
of the country as well as local customers searching for literature in their own
field of interest.
summer was more exciting than usual, as Tritonia adopted a new open-source
library system called Koha. In June, the staff got to learn how to use the new
system, and there were numerous aspects to consider regarding the changes Koha
brought to the loans procedures. After midsummer, the library was closed for a
week, while data was converted into Koha. During July and August we tested Koha
in action, learned how it works and updated information and tutorials about the
new system on our website. The implementation of Koha went smoothly and we did
not run into any major problems.
in summer, as there are less customers in the library, it has always been a
time to do more extensive collection moves. The project for this summer was to
merge all the journals from the subject collections to one journal collection,
including moving journals from three different floors to one floor. We have also
moved theses, serials and university publications, as well as weeded several
collections. Now we have a uniform journal collection waiting for new and old
now arrived and we are happy to see the library once again filled with eager
students all day long.
Text and photo: Jonna Toukonen, Head of services, Tritonia
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.