En blogg från Högskolan i Borås

måndag 23 oktober 2017

Teaching about e-books at the University of Wrocław

In between October 3rd and 7th I have travelled to a beautiful city of Wrocław that has a rich history and intensive cultural life. It also has a respected University continuing the traditions of several old universities of Europe.

Swedish School of Library and Information Science has been in contact with the Institute of Library and Information Science at this University for some time. We were meeting at the international conferences and worked on some similar research topics, especially, the ones related to the libraries as a part of book market and the largest customer group for book producers. Thus, the Erasmus contract signed by us in spring of 2018 was a logical extension of our earlier participation. The collaboration within Erasmus programme has started right away. This term we have accepted one student, Piotr Czapla, from the Institution of Library and Information Science and I have travelled to Wrocław to give lectures on e-book distribution channels and library work with e-books.

The University is situated in several parts of the town but the Institute of Library and Information Science is housed in the very centre of the city under to the Mathematics Tower and next to the Meridian line drawn by Professor Longinus Anton Jungnitz in the 18th century. 

As the Polish universities start the study year in October, I was teaching during the first week of this study year. The students, coming fresh after summer vacation, were happily filling the classrooms not only during the weekdays, but also on Saturday. This is a huge sacrifice on the part of the university teachers to work during weekends with correspondence students who can only attend lectures when they are free from work. As they are coming from all over Poland it is inevitably the free days that have to be used for teaching them.

I must acknowledge that though it was the very start of the study year, the students were quite attentive to the lectures given in English and some were posing intelligent and interesting questions. It turned out that only about one per cent of them have ever read an e-book as their University Library is not providing access to any digital textbooks or monographs, only to the article and journal databases. Buying reading devices is quite expensive and the habit of reading on smart phones has not yet formed among Poles. As in Sweden they prefer printed books, but are quite interested in the possibilities of electronic ones.

The issues of library work with e-books seemed to them a very innovative experience and they were eager to discuss the situation in Polish public and university libraries, some exhibiting a very good knowledge of library work and conditions in of licencing electronic resources. All in all, I have met one Bachelor’s students group and two Master’s level (first and second year). It was interesting to compare the situations with e-books not only between Sweden and Poland, but also between Poland, Lithuania, Croatia and some other countries. This knowledge we have acquired through common research projects, but it seems like teaching students can also become a source of learning about one’s own research topics.

I was also engaged in a seminar with the researchers of the Institute. They were interested not only in our research projects, but also in the conditions of funding research, organization of studies and their content, the implementation of Bologna programme in Sweden in general and at the University of Borås in particular. Our experience with distance education interested the teachers and the general resource allocation to courses as well as management of staff was of great interest. Some of Swedish procedures and regulations are obviously more difficult to implement (and maybe not necessary at all), but others were deemed as useful and practical even in Polish circumstances.

 Besides the work, which was quite intensive during the week, I also managed to look around Wrocław. I would be urging my colleagues to go there to get useful professional experience, but also to visit a wonderful concert hall called Music Forum, the Centennial Hall that is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the beautiful Opera house and the Old City, which has been completely reconstructed after the World War II.


The citizens of Wrocław seem to be eager to demonstrate and raise their voices in protest and I have participated and witnessed several public demonstrations for the rights of homosexual people, against the corruption and even against keeping dogs on chains.

The city is eager to attract tourists to visit it and some artists have created an attraction - gnomes of the city, which are scattered in different places. The rumour says that there are more than 300 of them. Most can be located using a special map that is sold at tourist information places. Looking for gnomes is also a favourite entertainment of local children. The one on the picture is driving at the entrance to a church.

Elena Maceviciute

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