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61st IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 20-25, 1995

Integration of new courses into LIS curriculum - the case of Berzsenyi College for East-West cooperation

Mihaly PalvolgyiI, Konyvtar-Informatikai Tanszek, Szombathely, Hungary


In Hungary there are 2 universities offering LIS training (Budapest 1949-, Debrecen 1989-) as well as four teacher training colleges (Szombathely 1962-, Nyíregyháza 1975-, Budapest 1 984-, and Szeged from 1989 on.) LIS programmes are offered in the frames of double-major programmes. Graduates acquire competencies both in LIS and in an other discipline, usually a teacher training programme. BC is the largest teacher training college in Hungary with more than 4000 students, 30 departments, and a staff of 280. The LIS Department is also the biggest in its category: the numbe r of full-time students totals to 180, that of part-time students to 80, and that of second degree students to 30. The Department has prepared more than 1600 students for the B.A. programme so far, ( earlier also 900 for medium-level professional qualifications.) The number of full-time staff is 10. (6 of them have doctoral degrees). (1)

The present double-major programmes were introduced at BC in 1972. First there were fixed combinations of programmes, but from 1993 on applicants themselves can decide which other programme to combin e with LIS studies.

Needs assessment

Due to the social, political, economical, technical and cultural changes in Hungary the needs for information has grown considerable over the past two decades. As a consequence, new requirements have appeared. The Hungarian information workforce should possess adequate management, marketing, technical and communication skills in order to be able to comply with the information needs of society.

There have been a lot of efforts taken in this direction, but we are still facing a number of problems:

Disintegration of LIS education and training, few staff at the individual LIS Departments (the Royal School of Librarianship in Copenhagen alone has more staff than the 6 Hungarian schools altogeth er)

No real integration of traditional and modern knowledge and skills within the LIS curriculum.

  1. Lack of staff expertise to teach modern management, marketing, and new information technology.

  2. Lack of financial resources, which is becoming even worse, as in 1995 libraries and LIS Departments are facing serious financial cutdowns.

  3. Lack of adequate teaching, training and reference materials in Hungarian, especially those serving distance, open and flexible learning.

    Insufficient technical infrastructure (2) (e.g. until 1995 BC LIS Department had only two PCs to serve a large number of students, the situation has improved by now, there is a computer laboratory w ith 8 PCs, but links to national and international networks are rather slow due to lack of Hbone connection).

    Lack of skills of staff and students to use new information technology, local, national and international network services.

  4. Continuing education for updating, retraining or specialising purposes not yet adequately provided in a systematic and compulsory way.

These problems have been identified also by EC-partners. As Ian M. Johnson sums up in his TEMPUS individual mobility report (3), free flow of information is being hindered by the lack of expertise in using information technology as a direct result of the poor training facilities available.

These problems can only be solved by a set of co-ordinated actions

  1. Co-operation on the regional level (Western Hungarian University Association) on the national level (development of a national Library and Information Science Training and Education Network) and on the international level (establishing bilateral and multilateral links with partner schools, joining international associations, establishing links to international online hosts, software compan ies, etc. ), plus participation in international projects (e.g. LISTEN TEMPUS JEP, Catching Up With European Higher Education- World Bank projects).

  2. Modularisation of studies and their harmonisation with those of EC partners, mutual recognition of periods of study, and supporting a European network for LIS student mobility, focus on activit ies that support the integration of Hungary into EC.

  3. Design and introduction of new core and elective courses (e.g. Information retrieval systems, Word processing as core courses, Business English, and foreign languages etc. as electives)
  4. Intensive updating of Hungarian staff by putting emphasis on required communication, technical, problem solving and language skills

  5. Substantial initial support to develop information infrastructure for information education and access (setting up a computer laboratory in 1995 supported by LISTEN TEMPUS JEP and its integratio n into teaching and learning))

  6. Design and production of adequate training materials (a few experimental textbooks exist in Information technology, CD-ROM, English for LIS students, etc. produced in 1992, and from 1995 to 1996 on a new set of about 15 packages will be produced )

  7. Introduction of new technologies and methodologies into LIS training and education (distance education, open learning, multimedia, computer assisted learning)

  8. Design and implementation of continuing education programmes for in-depth specialisation, for specific types of libraries, and for specific scopes of activities, and organisation of short, goa l-oriented workshops to acquaint professionals with new developments, e.g. with new software, and services, etc.

All these efforts are supported by our EC partners, with the aim of transferring to Hungarian staff the ability to educate and train information professionals to the best contemporary standards in terms of curricular aims and content, teaching methodologies, assessment practices and quality control.

How international links can help course development efforts?

BC has developed strong international contacts from the beginning from the 1980s. Within 7 years time (from 1982 to 1989) 3 staff members could conduct at least one-year study at Kent State Universit y, School of Library Science, Ohio, USA, supported by Gombocz-scholarship. BC staff actively participated in the British -Hungarian as well as Norwegian- Hungarian Seminar on LIS education, and or ganised a related International seminar in 1987.

International contacts have intensified since the early 1990s in the following forms: Individual TEMPUS mobility grants Ian M. Johnson investigated LIS situation in Hungary, Mihály Pálvölgyi studied the use of English in LIS education at the Royal School of Librarianship, Copenhagen.

2. Bilateral contacts

3. Multilateral contacts

In 1992 BC became a member of EUCLID (European Association for Library and Information Education and Research).

In 1994 a co-operation agreement (BOBCATSSS) was signed between 7 Western European and two Hungarian Schools (Budapest, Oslo, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Tampere, Stuttgart, Sheffield, Szombat hely).

Since 1993 links to DIALOG CIP have been intensified as well as to software producing companies and vendors. (Swets Co., Baker and Taylor Co., Thompson Co., Chadwyck/Healey Co., ekZ, for supporting teaching and learning.

4. Other, alternative ways of support:

In the followings two major projects and their impact on course development is presented:

The LISTEN TEMPUS-JEP in operation from 1994 to 1997 is based on the co-operation of 5 Hungarian schools (Szombathely, Nyíregyháza, Budapest, Veszprém, and Zalaegerszeg) supported by 5 EU partners (Copenhagen, Aberdeen, Leicester, Stuttgart and Boras. The Joint European Project focuses on the creation of a national network of LIS training and education to enhance the development of basic, continuing and postgraduate LIS education. JEP activities include as follows:

The JEP also includes strong student mobility(one-month practical placements).

The Catching UP With European Higher Education (CEF) - World Bank Project (from 1993 on) focuses on the further development of modular programmes in foreign language teacher training and spe cialised foreign language training e.g. to give students of English the opportunity to specialise in Information Studies.

Integration of new courses into basic LIS curriculum

From 1992 on the following groups of core courses are incorporated in the LIS curriculum (new courses are signed with *, and the number of class hours is given in brackets)

History of libraries and library materials (56), Introduction to communication (28) Information and society (56),

Introduction to research methods (56), Word processing (*28)

Information sources (28), Collection development (28), Collection development practice (56),

Cataloguing (96), Classification (70),

Sociology of information use (14), Sociology of special user groups (28),

Psychology and pedagogy of information use (28), Applied psychology and pedagogy of information use (56),

Library services and their management (14), Seminar in library services (28),

Library reference (56), Library reference practice (56),

Information retrieval systems (*28), Information technology, database creation and management (28), Information technology practice (56)

Information services and their management (14), Information services seminar (70),

Management (42), Seminar in management (42).

Elective courses are grouped in three blocks:

Block A includes courses focusing on types of work, e.g. advanced cataloguing and classification, managing old and rare documents, producing bibliographies, abstracts and indexes, user education, CD- ROM management, etc.

Examples of information science core courses integrated into the curriculum:

In addition to these new courses, many of the earlier ones have changed intensively, to integrate more technical, communication and management skills. (e.g. Information Services, and the Management courses have been updated quite intensively). The Local Area Network (a Regional Information Centre from 1994 on) offers a variety of services (e-mail, news board, word-processing, language teachi ng software, database services, links to national and international networks) and maintains a Gopher service (since March 1995) of its own. All these create better learning and working conditions fo r the above courses to integrate theory and practice. An International compact seminar supported by CEF on Applications of information technologies (Oct. 1994) designed and carried out by a 6-member expert team from Stuttgart, FHB transferred know-how to Hungarian staff in cost-effective using of local, national and international networks, and CD-ROMs.

Examples for new elective courses: the English (and German) LSP course and the Business information course:

The English (and German) LSP courses both cover 2 semesters (48 class hours). Major emphasis is on information retrieval, processing and intermediation skills, on using English (or German ) language professional literature, as well as on skills for international co-operation. Experiences of EC partners in course design and development have been studied and incorporated. (The Gordon University, the Royal School of Librarianship, Fachhochschule für Bibliothekswesen), and also the related efforts of IFLA Section on Training and Education. The first semester is for foundati on, the second is mainly devoted to using electronic media, and includes related practice. Teaching methods include small group work, tutorial and practical exercises. Learning events are guided by an experimental textbook (5).

The Business information course was first offered in 1993/94, in partnership with the College of Finance and Accounting, Zalaegerszeg. (6) During the first semester the colleagues from the p artner school give students a basic introduction into small and medium size businesses (types, functions, structures, information needs), the second semester, taught by BC staff, is devoted to busi ness information services and management issues. Searching online and CD/ROM business databases is emphasised in the course. (DIALOG CIP, COMPASS etc. ) Special Business English terminology is acq uired. There are promising signs for developing this course due to a national Business Information Project that started in 1992 upon the initiative of the Association of the Hungarian Librarians, and supported by the Ministry of Culture and Education. (7) The LISTEN-TEMPUS JEP also has an activity focusing on the further development of this course both in basic and continuing education.

Courses integrated into the Information Studies minor programme

This minor programme is a product of World Bank support (1993-1995) allowing know-how transfer, design of new courses, and holding tailor-made courses. It allowed the design and introduction of 4- semester modular programmes to the single-major students of English (European Studies, Business English, Media Studies, Environmental Studies, and last but not least Information Studies).

The major idea underlying the Information Studies module, a joint effort of the Department of English Language and Literature and the LIS Department, is that English has become a global language of communication and information services, and special skills of information retrieval and mediation combined with knowledge of English can be very „competitive” on the job market (in libraries, inform ation centres, companies, media etc.)

The Information studies module, first offered in 1993-94, includes the following courses: Information sources, Mass media, Cataloguing and classification, Indexing and abstracting, Online sea rching, CD-ROM searching, Information services, Business information, Information resources management, Management Project work, and two electives. All courses are taught in English in 28 class hour s, altogether in 336 class hours. Individual work and preparation is not included.

This module plays a lot of emphasis on the electronic medium, as it will increasingly become the medium of choice for an increasing number of people world-wide who will create, store, access, retrie ve and distribute information in electronic form, e.g. the Classification and Cataloguing course concentrates (after theoretical considerations) on online cataloguing that provides bibliographic in formation essential to library and information activities and serves as the basis for other subsystems and related services and activities (interlibrary loan, searching databases, etc.) Students are expected to learn the fundamental skills to process (classify, index, and abstract) English language materials as well as search English language databases by various means (classification codes, d escriptors, subject headings, and keywords.

There are strong co-operation links within the CEF project to the Royal School of Copenhagen, to Stuttgart HBI, De Montfort University, The Gordon University, and other schools. This project also i ncludes the development of communicative language teaching materials of specialised language training: self-study packages are created for the students to learn on their own. Open learning materia ls are produced for this module (for the Cataloguing and Business information courses). They include examples, self-assessment questions, checklists, references to other teaching aids, etc. thus g uiding learning events.

The course in Information resources management focuses on understanding the modern theory and methodology of IRM, understanding and application of the special English terminology of IRM. Dev elopments of the LIS professionals new roles and functions in the mediation of information and the impact of information technology on the development of modern library and information services are emhpasised. The course includes lectures, group discussions, case studies, as well as project work. The course was first presented by Prof. Irene Wormell from the Royal School of Librarianship, C openhagen in February/March 1995 and the FID IRM Training manual was tested. Students and staff of Hungarian partner schools may participate in these intensive courses.

It is hoped that these new experiences in curriculum and course development will have a lot of impact on LIS education in Hungary, and the links with both Hungarian and European partners within the LISTEN-network will serve as solid basis for further actions, towards harmonisation and modularisation of curricula in Europe and world-wide as well as towards training students to comply with the diversifying and growing information needs in our region. (8)

Notes and references

  1. Tóth, Gyula - Pálvölgyi, Mihály: Education for librarianship in Hungary: a case study of Daniel Berzsenyi College of Education, Szombathely. In: The education and traini ng of information professionals: comparative and international perspectives. Ed. by G. E. Gorman, - London: Scarecorw Press Inc., 1990., p. 159-173.

  2. Ian M Johnson explored the potential for IFLA Section on Education and Training to contribute to the development of LIS education in Eastern and Central Europe in 1992-93 (TEMPUS Individual Mobi lity Programme).

  3. Murányi, Péter: New information technology in librarianship and information studies. In: The future of librarianship: proceedings of the 2nd international Budapest symposium, Januar y 1994. Ed. by Renzo Verwer, Jelke Nijboer, Ruund Bruyns, -Amsterdam: Hogeschool van Amsterdam, cop. 1994. p. 147-15l.

  4. Towlson, Kaye: Business information in Hungary: impressions of the contemporary scene. In ASLIB Proceedings, vol. 45. no. 2.. 1993. p.35/37.

  5. Pálvölgyi, Mihály: English for students of librarianship and information studies: an experimental textbook for international use. Szombathely, Berzsenyi Coll., 1992. 256 p.
  6. Téglási, Ágnes: Introducing business information courses at Berzsenyi College. In: The role of libraries today, tomorrow and beyond: trends in Hungary and the Netherlands. E d. By Dorathé Blom, Freek de Jong, Hendri Tolboom. - Amsterdam, Hogeschool van Amsterdam, 1993. p. 66-67.

  7. Szántó, Péter - Huszár, Hedvig: Business information in Hungary. In FID News Bulletin, vol. 43. no. 6. 1993. p. 127-129.

  8. Pálvölgyi, Mihály: The preparation of Hungarian library science students for the new professional roles in the society. In: The role of libraries today, tomorrow and beyond: t rends in Hungary and the Netherlands. Ed by Dorathé Blom, Freek de Jong, Hendri Tolboom. - Amsterdam: Hogeschool van Amsterdam, 1993. p. 59-65.