IASL 2012 Conference, 11 to 15 November 2012
Dianne Oberg, Lyn Hay, and James Henri
IASL/Softlink and IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) have provided funding for an international study of the principal's role in developing and supporting information literacy. The study is being organized by an international research team, Lyn Hay and James Henri from Charles Sturt University in Australia and Dianne Oberg from the University of Alberta in Canada. Six countries are involved in the international study. The coordinators for the studies in each country are: Lyn Hay and James Henri for Australia; Dianne Oberg for Canada; Liisa Niinikangas for Finland: Colette Charrier for France; Setsuko Koga for Japan; James Herring for Scotland; and Yoon-ok Han for South Korea.
This project continues a program of research that has been developed by the researchers in Canada and Australia. Lyn Hay and James Henri have completed a qualitative study in Australia, based on work done in this area by Dianne Oberg and Linda LaRocque in Canada. Findings from the Canadian study were presented at the 1990 IASL conference and findings from the Australian study were presented at the 1995 IFLA conference as part of the Section of School Libraries' Open Session.
The qualitative studies, conducted by Oberg and LaRocque and by Hay and Henri provided analyses of the ways that principals working within an information literate school community are able to support the school librarian. The projects also identified the methods used by school librarians to involve the principal in the development of effective school library and information services. The Canadian project involved five schools in Alberta; the Australian project was undertaken in six schools in New South Wales.
Having identified the factors of influence and support that exist between the principal and school librarian, the researchers have undertaken the development of a quantitative study to test the existence of these factors across a broader range of schools. In doing so, statistical measures are being employedto test the correlation of years of service, types of experience, and qualifications of principals and school librarians and the size of, financial status of, and methods of communication within the schools to the existence of various forms of support. While the qualitative studies have provided in-depth understanding of a small sample of schools, it is important to test the validity of these findings over extended populations.
The international study involves a quantitative investigation, surveying both principals and teacher librarians about principal support, making use of data from the original qualitative studies. Involvement of other countries in the study began at the 1995 IFLA conference, and funding was sought from both IFLA and IASL. For the 1997 IFLA conference, the researchers organized a full day workshop. Four papers were given on the research related to the role of the principal and a workshop was held for the researchers participating in the international study. Researchers from each of these countries provided input and advice regarding the adaption, translation, and administration of the quantitative instrument and planned the procedures for data collection, analysis, and dissemination.
Questionnaires, based on the interviewee data fields used and the key factors resulting from the original qualitative studies, were developed and tested in Australia. Two model questionnaires -- one for principals and one for school librarians -- were developed. The questionnaires include both forced choice and open-ended questions. It was recognized that these questionnaires would have to be adapted and translated in order to be administered in other countries. Each member of the research team is responsible for the collection of data in their country and for the entry of those data onto a Web-based data collection site at the School of Information Studies, Charles Sturt University (CSU). Where possible, the study participants have been asked to enter their responses on an electronic format of the questionnaire, accessed through the Internet.
The quantitative study data are being analyzed using SPSS by Hay and Henri at CSU. Statistical measures will be employed to test the correlation of years of service, types of experience, and qualifications of principals and school librarians; size of, financial status of, and methods of communication within schools, and so on to the existence of various forms of support.
The qualitative data from the open ended questions will be analyzed using a framework and procedures developed by Oberg at the University of Alberta. Each member of the research team is reponsible for compiling a report, including findings from both qualitative and quantitative data, for their own country.
The research team anticipate that the findings will be published in book format some time in the future. Research findings include the forms of support for school librarians offered by principals; the types of actions taken by school librarians to develop principal support; the strategies implemented by principals and school librarians in developing information literate school communities; and the professional development needs of principals and school librarians with respect to developing an information literate school community.
The researchers will also review the overall research design and methodology in the light of their experience with this international project. This project has demonstrated the potential to foster collaboration in research within school librarianship on an international scale. It is anticipated that it will also contribute to the development and publication of an international set of guidelines for principals and school librarians in developing effective information services and supporting information literacy programs in schools.
The researcher team and the coordinators of the studies done in each of the participating countries will be describing the development of this international project at the 1998 IASL and IFLA conferences. These sessions will provide information that will be useful to principals and school librarians in countries throughout the world, as they struggle in difficult times to provide quality schooling and information services and to contribute to the development of literate and independent library users. The sessions will also be of interest to researchers who might want to replicate the study in other countries.
Reproduced, with permission, from the March 1998 issue of IASL Newsletter
Last Updated 22 January 2006 (KSB)