Childhood and Culture Reflected Through the Lens of LIS Education: Embedded Practice in Danish Library and Information Science Education07/01/2015
According to Stearns (2009), culture shapes childhood. The way a society defines culture shapes: (a) how childhood is constructed; (b) the production of literary products and services for young people; and (c) training for library professionals. In 21st century America, children are viewed as a vulnerable population in need of protection, as evidenced by the books that are challenged in schools and libraries every year. In Denmark, however, childhood is constructed differently. While the American-style of helicopter parenting described in Finkel and Fitzsimmons (2013) exists, since the 1980s a cultural shift has occurred, as Danes move from what Juncker (2007) calls a silent, attendant culture to a vocal, participatory culture. Today, young Danes' right to access culture is mandated through the Ministry of Culture, and libraries and cultural institutions, working in partnership with schools, are largely responsible for providing such access. According to the Royal School of Library and Information Science's website, Bachelors and Masters degrees in Information Science and Cultural Dissemination emphasize connections between information and knowledge, but also focus on the interplay between knowledge and culture. As library education changes, children's library centers in turn are transformed into cultural institutions that incorporate media in all forms, focusing on culture, creativity, and play. This qualitative study uses participant observation gathered in Denmark during summer 2014 at the Royal School of Library and Information Science, libraries and cultural centers, and online analysis. Findings demonstrate how the Danish LIS program addresses changing constructions of childhood and the roles of information and culture, encompassing both aesthetics and play.