From Down Under to North Europe!

What could be a better way to start this sunny but cold leap day than with a gigantic leap from South to North! I have been reading earlier posts this weekend and I am so exited! First of all it is so very nice to meet you, whom I consider as colleagues. Second of all this is an excellent learning situation – we are all learning from each other. Thank you so much Leslie for inviting me to join this project!

My name is Anu Ojaranta and I am writing to you from Turku, Finland. Turku is a city in South-West Finland and the oldest city in Finland, a medieval city established already in 1229. I am a librarian by profession and a school librarian at heart and I have been working in the library field already for 22 years. I did my masters’ degree in Sweden and I am at the moment a doctoral student aiming for a doctoral degree in Åbo Akademi University in Turku.

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At some point during my career in librarianship in 2003 I ended up working in a school library in Stockholm, Sweden. It was just meant to be a temporary work as I was aiming for corporate libraries. I worked in International English School in Stockholm for 4 year and was by then convinced of the work I should be doing: school librarianship. After 4 years I moved back to Finland and by chance soon a full time school library position opened in the neighboring city. It was an extremely rare occasion; school librarianship is a very rare position in Finland. We are 5,5 million people and to my knowledge, less than 30 full time school librarians. So, I felt like I did hit the jackpot!

I continued working as a school librarian in Finland in 2008 and I kept introducing new ways of working in the school library; doing homework in the library and opening up the library for more hours during the school day, close cooperation with the teaching staff. At some point I got very interested in how the students do research and how the teachers are instructing the students. It often felt like “go and do!” methodology. An idea came to me and I went to see the professor Gunilla Widén in Information Studies at my hometown university Åbo Akademi and I was immediately taken in as a doctoral candidate. Dr Jannica Heinström became my instructor. She has been working closely with Carol Kuhlthau and Todd Ross in CISSL in Rutgers University.

My research subject is information literacy conceptions and I am studying the core curriculum in Finland. What are the conceptions of information literacy in the text given to us by the Board of Education and do they match with the conceptions of teachers and the librarians. The work is on going and I am at the moment doing a discourse analysis of the new core curriculum. The new 2016 curriculum is taking effect in August this year. A very interesting research, I am fascinated to say the least! I have two conference papers published in English, which you can find linked in my own blog.

How did I get to know Guided Inquiry? My work as a school librarian and a researcher kind of led me there. I was familiar with the term Guided Inquiry already. The real boost happened when I met Carol Kuhlthau in Tampere, Finland in 2012. It was the year of IFLA World Congress in Helsinki, Finland and I participated a Summer School and a pre-conference in Tampere University. Carol Kuhlthau was visiting as a lecturer and a speaker. I was very happy to enjoy her company in several occasions and we had very good discussions. I also the priviledge to attend GID workshop in Cape Town in August 2015 with Ross Todd and Lyn Hay.

Back then I had just recently changed jobs and for the first time I was working with elementary school students and preschoolers. I was working closely with two schools in the city and suggested to teachers in these primary schools to try out Guided Inquiry with me. These teachers, Jonna and Sigrid, welcomed the idea and we got to work! I will tell you more about these projects in the next blog post.

As I have been proceeding with my PhD research, I have really realized that the new curriculum we will have in a few months time would be an excellent arena to introduce GID. Phenomenon based learning and more information intensive way of studying in schools is soon our reality. Research based methods should be used to do phenomenon based projects, breaking down the subject barriers.

The Library Bridge

I also have my own little company.  I am giving workshops, seminars and lectures targeting teachers and public libraries so that we will find meaningful ways to collaborate in information literacy instruction. I have been promoting GI as an excellent choice for collaboration. Very happy that schools are taking initiative! I will be writing more about this and my research later on during this week.

I will leave you now with the picture from my hometown. The Aura river has a new bridge over it, The Library Bridge. And the Turku Cathedral in the background.

 

Saw that we have something in common with Australia, a curriculum change. Interesting reading from all of you! Great to connect!

Warm greetings from cold and sunny Finland,

Anu