at the VI International Workshop "Digital Resources and International Information Exchange: East-West".
"America –2004" professional and educational tour
"Librarianship, information systems and education in the U.S."
Additional professional library education in the Russian Federation: approaches to the system development
Dr., Prof. Tatiana Kuznetsova, Head, Department of Library and Information Science, Academy for Retraining in Arts, Culture and Tourism, Moscow, Russia
Dynamic changes in librarianship, caused by its technological renovation and the increased social role of libraries in the life of the modern society heading for digital age constitute the principal factor of establishing new professional requirements to librarians.
A modern librarian is not only a guru in fiction and scientific literature and in readers' information demands but also an expert in new digital technologies, a navigator in the Internet digital resources, a conductor of information culture, a keeper of the society humanistic traditions and universal scientific knowledge, a manager and a marketing expert in the library and information world, and an active agent in the book publishing market. These reasons lead to an urging demand in the rapid enhancement and fundamental renovation of librarians' professional knowledge, expertise, and skills.
An important condition of librarians' adjustment to performing new professional tasks is the additional education and staff retraining, which are made possible within additional library education. Today it is becoming a focus of library education system as it allows for full implementation of continuing professional education – a vitally important principle of developing library staff potential.
Equally important is the compensating role of additional library education. It deals with compensating the lack of knowledge in young staff members caused by the existing gap between the educational process in secondary and higher professional schools, on one hand, and rapidly changing library reality, on the other hand.
In present conditions additional library education also acts as effective means of librarianship modernization as a whole, as well as a platform for mastering new ideas, concepts, technologies. Innovative library experience is accumulated in its bosom and then transferred and implemented in practice.
An objective demand for library staff systematic professional development and retraining has been the prerequisite for developing a distributed educational network. At present, the additional library education structure in the Russian Federation consist of the following elements:
A special place in educational infrastructure belongs to international institutions and foundations that grant financial and intellectual support of educational programs and projects. Among these, the Open Society Institute – Soros Foundation played a remarkable role and initiated establishment of training centers for managing the process of changes at dozens central regional libraries. The International Library Information and Analytical Center (ILIAC) is widely known for international professional and educational tours that it organizes on a regular basis.
A considerable assistance to the development of educational activities for library personnel retraining is given by the Section of library profession, staff and continuing education of the Russian Library Association (RLA). Under the auspices of this section APRIKT has developed a Concept of additional professional library education in the Russian Federation approved by the Seventh Annual Session of the RLA Conference (May 2002) and the Collegium of the RF Ministry of Culture (March, 2003). The Library Charitable Foundation has also made an input into the professional development of young library staff.
In recent years, the RF Ministry of Culture has given serious attention to retraining and professional development of library personnel. It provides for target funding of major important educational projects. Educational activities in the framework of advanced trends of library modernization (LIBNET Program, National program of library collections preservation in the Russian Federation, "Innovative Library Technologies") have been included into the Federal Target Program "Culture of Russia (2001-2005)", are taken into account in annual consolidated plans of main professional activities of RF libraries. The Ministry of Culture executives play an important role in the educational process.
The central place in the additional professional library education infrastructure belongs to APRIKT. The Academy actively masters new directions, which for a number of reasons cannot be implemented within regions or within departments of professional development in higher and secondary educational institutions.
APRIKT participates in the development and implementation of governmental policy in the field of continuing library education, offers scientific, methodological and consultancy assistance on the subject to various educational institutions and libraries.
In addition to traditional training programs of professional development such as "Librarian – bibliographer" and "Library manager", APRIKT implements qualitatively new programs such as "Management of library collection preservation" and "Bibliographer – analytic". The academic course load of mentioned programs is from 1260 up to 1590 academic hours of full-time and distance learning during 1,5 years. Introduction of highly demanded in librarianship program, that is, "Manager of corporate library resources" is anticipated soon.
Academy actively works in the field of professional development in innovative directions of librarianship development and its technological reform. At present, APRIKT implements the following professional development programs within the framework of joint projects with the RF Ministry of Culture:
All the mentioned programs are scheduled for 100-110 academic hours, which allows students to receive the necessary information and respective skills for the successful implementation of their functions and mastering new professional challenges.
The scope of trainees background is broad: it includes directors of central libraries of the Russian Federation subjects, directors of university and other special libraries; medium-level managers and leading experts of federal and central regional libraries; directors of municipal library systems, including agricultural libraries.
During three last years alone, in the framework of joint projects with the RF Ministry of Culture about 1000 managers and leading library experts from 65 regions of Russia received their education in the Academy. It became possible due to substantial financial support of representatives of regional libraries within the Federal Target Program "Culture of Russia (2001-2005)". This allows us to say that the system of governmental request for retraining and professional development of library personnel for key directions of libraries modernization is beginning to shape up today.
Besides APRIKT, training centers of federal libraries (Russian State Library, Russian National Library, All-Russian State Library for Foreign Literature, Russian National Public Library for Science and Technology, etc.) offer additional education, including graduate professional education. Some of them (Russian State Library) implement professional retraining of federal libraries staff and residents of Moscow regions without library education; offer professional development courses for library staff on new information technologies and corporate library networks (Russian National Public Library for Science and Technology), hold training on project activities, personnel management and social interaction of libraries ("Rudomino School" Training Center at the All-Russian State Library for Foreign Literature).
At the same time there is a distinctive trend of regionalization of additional education. RF subjects more and more tend to use their own educational resources and develop a regional educational infrastructure, including the possibility of interdepartmental educational infrastructure. An example of this type of integration is the Siberian regional library center of continuing education established at the State Public Library for Science and Technology, Siberian Division of the Russian Academy of Science. This Center not only offers training programs on hot trends in library modernization in the given federal district but also develops an information and methodological basis for librarians' professional development with the help of electronic access to educational resources.
A special place in the regional system of professional development belongs to regional central libraries: national, universal scientific, for children and youth. They offer various types of education for librarians of republics, krais, oblasts, and often act as ideas generators and initiators of the educational process restructuring. For instance, a Center of professional development for librarians of Far-East Region has been established on the premises of the Far-East State National Library in Khabarovsk.
Several universal national libraries have developed target regional programs of the region librarians' professional development (scientific libraries of the Republics of Altai, Buryatia, Sakha (Yakutia); Belgorod, Bryansk, Kostroma, Orel, Pskov, Tver oblast universal scientific libraries). Municipal libraries have also intensified their training activities in recent years.
However, in spite of some success in the library personnel retraining and professional development, existing educational institutions at federal or regional level cannot satisfy the steadily increasing demand of Russian libraries in the regular knowledge update of their staff and timely adjustment of librarians to new professional tasks.
The main reasons for the problematic situation are as follows:
- Reduced governmental funding of activities in personnel retraining and professional development in all areas of culture that occurred in the 90s;
- Lack of regulation that would make the staff business career directly dependant on their professional level and regular knowledge update in the system of continuing education;
- Reduction of the regional network of educational institutions responsible for additional professional library education;
- Low rate of introducing computer technologies into the library education system.
This causes delays in introducing new educational technologies, particularly, distance learning methods, into the training process. In continuing education, there is no system of successive transfer of innovative knowledge. Not all professional groups are involved in the educational process. Some categories of library personnel don't have the opportunity of systematic professional development (e.g., country librarians).
Library management, while realizing the importance of systematic professional staff development is compelled to save cash exactly on this expense item. In some regions there is no possibility for local professional retraining due to lack of funds and certified centers offering respective programs and issuing state certificates. These reasons lead to decreasing the level of professional requirements to library staff and vacant positions and in the end have a negative impact on the quality of library services for the public.
The coordination in the activities of educational institutions of federal level as well as federal and regional centers of additional library education is unsatisfactory.
In order to find a way out of the problematic situation, the governmental policy in the sphere of additional library professional education is aimed today to create a multi-level system of retraining and professional development of library personnel, capable of bringing their combined professional knowledge, skills and expertise in accordance with the tasks of progressive renovation of librarianship.
This educational policy development course was the center of discussion at the Collegium of the RF Ministry of Culture (March, 2003.) that was particularly devoted to additional library professional education.
An important organizational decision was the establishment of a federal center for additional library professional education on the premises of APRIKT that has acted in recent years as a chief scientific, methodological and consultancy body within the system of library personnel retraining and professional development. APRIKT's innovative training programs and new educational technologies developed by the Academy as template technologies are of considerable interest to the system regional level. If APRIKT is given a coordinating role it would allow for better order and concordance among all parties in major educational programs and projects on federal and regional level, for efficient and effective use of man-power and financial resources.
An important step in reshaping the organizational structure of additional professional education will be the creation of district centers of continuing library education similar to those that already exist in Siberian and Far-Eastern districts. These centers will be built in all federal districts on the basis of the most powerful library irrespective of its departmental affiliation.
An important tool of managing the educational process will be the establishment of a special Commission at the Russian Library Association (at the Section of library profession, staff and continuing education) for public certification of most valuable training programs of professional development offered by alternative educational institution that don't have a state license.
It is planned to start gradual introduction of computer technologies into the additional professional education system and implement distance learning methods that are especially useful for remote regions. This will provide for electronic access to domestic and foreign digital educational resources for all participants of the education process.
In order to strengthen the scientific and organizational foundation of additional professional education system, the Federal Center will implement the monitoring of educational environment and situation with libraries personnel, as well as the development of a single information-resource basis for scientific and methodological support of librarians' professional development and retraining.
So here are the main strategic directions for the renovation of the additional library education system. Preservation and development of libraries staff and, consequently, further modernization of domestic library network directly depend on its consistent implementation.
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