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Volume 14
Issue 2
Online publication date 2014-05-10
Title Public libraries and lifelong learning
Author Bo Gerner Nielsen
This paper reports on the results of an empirical study of public librarians’ conception of how public libraries support lifelong learning, as well as the role of information literacy in relation to lifelong learning.

Lifelong learning has become essential to all people in today’s information society as a result of easy and free access to information. A basic understanding of the concept is ‘learning throughout life, either continuously or periodically’. This implies that learning is not restricted to educational institutions, but can also take place in for example the public library. Public libraries thus may play an important role in supporting the learning process not the least because lifelong learning is characterised by the inclusion of informal elements of learning, flexible learning opportunities, and a shift towards selfdirected learning. This self-directed learning promotes active citizenship and employability, thereby enabling people to participate in all spheres of social, political and economic life.

Therefore, how do the public librarians conceive the learning responsibility and their own role in supporting lifelong learning? Furthermore, how do public librarians become better at teaching?
The study reports on data from 12 interviews of purposely selected public librarians and a large-scale e-mail survey (questionnaire). The e-mail survey contained 28 questions and was sent to all staff
members in public libraries in Denmark, and resulted in 986 responses.
The results show that the public librarians consider the public library to be an important place for learning. The results also show how the public librarians find that they could become better at teaching and facilitating learning. This could in turn affect the sharing of knowledge and collaboration.

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Keywords Information literacy, lifelong learning, public library, user education, information literacy instruction
Pages 94-102
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