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60th IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 21-27, 1994

Library and Information Science (LIS) Education in Europe.
The Role of EUCLID in Curriculum Development and Equivalence of Cualifications

Ole Harbo
The Royal School of Librarianship, Copenhagen, Denmark


The paper briefly presents the tasks of EUCLID and discusses the problems of curriculum development and equivalence of qualifications in present Europe. The role of EUCLID within the field is stressed.



After several years of consideration and preparation EUCLID, The European Association for Library and Information Education and Research, was founded at a meeting in Stuttgart, Germany in October 1991.

The timing seemed to be perfect because of the dramatic changes that took places in Eastern Europe, where the role of libraries in society and therefore the role of library education in society changed.

It was a general view that there was a need for a regional organization for library education and research like the North American, ALISE-organization, and that the organization should have tasks to perform in relation to the whole of geographic Europe as well as in relation to the bodies of the European Community (now Union). At the founding meeting 26 representatives from 14 countries were present, and now the membership comprises 35 institutions, there are 2 affiliate members and 6 corresponding members. The membership represents 18 countries and the corresponding members 2 countries outside Europe.

The first 2 years of the organization's life were used to establish the organization with a Board, a Chairman, a Newsletter and so on. At the first ordinary Council meeting in Barcelona in August 1993, held in connection with the IFLA council, the membership agreed on the Statutes, Membership Fees and the new Board.

The present Board members are:

2. The tasks of EUCLID

The tasks of the organization are defined in the Statutes as follows:

A. The Association is an independent European nongovernmental and nonprofit organization whose purposes are: to promote European Cooperation within library and information education and research and to provide a body through which it can be represented in matters of European interest.

B. In pursuance of these objectives the Association shall seek to:

3. Curriculum development and equivalence of qualifications

In the present European situation these two conceptions are closely connected for several reasons.

The division of Europe in two politically different spheres is no longer the case and the dominance of market-economy-systems means that a common basis for the European Societies is developing very fast, and this is also true as far as libraries and library education and research are concerned. There are not so few examples of Eastern European institution seeking cooperation with Western European institutions about development of curricula in the direction of the curricula contents that exist here. The mobility in Europe has increased for several reasons. The EU has the mobility of manpower as one of its purposes and a further extension of the EU is envisaged rather soon. On the other hand there is a large not-intended mobility because of war conditions in parts of Europe and in other parts of the world. So it is more necessary than ever before to be able to judge qualifications in relation to the labour market and the educational system of the host country. Such types of evaluation are made in all countries in very different ways and by different bodies: library schools, universities, professional associations, labour unions or ministries, and such types of evaluation will also take place in considerations about applicants for positions in the European institutions.

4. Special difficulties within LIS

Comparisons between countries are always difficult because of the historical and cultural background. An education or a course may carry a specific label but the contents under the same label may vary a lot from country to country or even within a country with several institutions. This is true of library education too.

But there are more problems to consider. The number of years spent in the educational system, leading to definitions of primary, secondary and tertiary levels is countable but the contents vary a lot at all levels. LIS-education takes place at the tertiary level in most countries, but examples at the secondary level exist too. A condition for EUCLID-membership is education at the tertiary level. But even in the tertiary level there are problems:

This variety makes comparisons very difficult because the scope of the course at one institution differs from that of another, even within courses of the same length and designation.

In some of the larger countries, e.g. United Kingdom (and United States), the library association has established and maintained a system of accreditation, so that educational institutions are regularly evaluated in relation to job positions in the libraries. This evaluation is also being applied to foreigners that apply for a library position in these countries.

With the existing institutional and organisational diversity in Europe it is not an approach to be recommended to other countries or as a common European enterprise.

5. What can be done?

EUCLID might be a framework for discussing curriculum development and the equivalence of qualifications within the LIS-field for several reasons. It is a regional organization with these aims and objectives in an area where there are strong trends for harmonization. As stated earlier, this is not solely true of the member countries of the EU but also of the applicants for membership and the countries in Eastern and Central Europe that cooperate with the EU for instance through programmes like TEMPUS.

EUCLID has a policy so far as the conditions for membership is education at the tertiary level and the organization is supporting their membership in their aspirations for having their status imposed within the national educational system for instance by promoting research as a part of the programme. The membership of the association possesses a lot of know-how in the field through the cooperation between institutions on exchange of students and staff and on research and development projects, thus being able to judge what lies behind the purpose of the different courses.

The memberships constitute a network of persons with a detailed knowledge about the development in their own and other countries, so that it will always be possible to find a colleague capable to compare two or more LIS-educational programmes. The association is producing and distributing information about LIS-education and research in Europe through its meetings, its papers and the further diffusion through thenewsletter and in cooperation with the periodical: Education for Information.