STUDIES

Access to public data on the homepages of Hungarian public libraries
FEHÉR, Miklós

Institutions performing public tasks are obliged by Law no. LXIII of 1992 to provide public data about their activities. In addition, Law no. XC of 2005 requires them since July 2008 to make public data available electronically.
An investigation was carried out to identify, how far a sample group of libraries met this obligation. The sample – compiled based on the Links menu of the National Széchényi Library’ homepage (www.oszk.hu) – included 168 libraries open for the general public (all the county libraries plus selected city and village libraries, academic libraries financed by the state and churches respectively). A checklist of 27 questions was compiled to overview data in the following three categories: a) data of interest to the public (relating to organisation, staff, activities and economy), b) data reflecting the relationship between libraries and society (e.g. accessibility in the built environment, civil connections, efforts to strengthen identity etc.), c) data expressing intentions at high-quality performance.It was found that the quantity of data provided on the homepages of libraries was rather uneven; it was considered as good when more than 10 of the 27 items on the checklist were presented. The reason for lacking data was often simple neglect, not the lack of services in question. Even this relatively small sample has indicated that public libraries should pay considerably more attention to their obligation to supply public data. When libraries provide public data on their homepages, they meet legal obligations on the one hand, and they also enhance the library’s image with their users on the other.

Criticism of a library reform suggestion, its method: a dialectic approach to the problem of unused books
BALOGH, András

The author reflects on an interview published in a Hungarian daily on 6 February 2009 which has raised extensive professional debate. He rejects the weeding policy proposed in the interview which would, referring to the practice of Australian public libraries, leave books younger than two years in the holdings of public libraries only, and would withdraw all older ones.He argues that this weeding plan would achieve a contrary affect. It would not increase the use of libraries, on the contrary, it would impede the development of Hungarian public libraries. He criticises the theses of marketing-oriented library policy as suggested by the interview, and points out that in a modern and efficient library culture together with the satisfaction of demand it is necessary to present the wealth of materials through managing holdings and taking demand into consideration. The feasible practical solutions do not lie (exclusively) in a radical weeding of holdings and in digitisation, but in a dialectic interaction of collection management and user needs. The artificially reduced offer accompanying weeding leads to reduced interest in culture, but this is true also vice versa: the wider and better-quality the cultural offer in a public collection, the deeper and stronger the reader’s interest. All this requires new and up-to-date library spaces, increased state support to libraries, as well as the development of the culture of library use. It is not enough to sustain a library system, but user education too should be given a major impetus. In the global information age, too, it is important to apply – in addition to conveying information culture – innovation of cultural education, among others as an efficient method for enhancing libraries holding unused books. Innovation is necessary not only in the field of information technology but also in the field of culture to achieve a real exploitation of the values of the Hungarian library system.

Conflict management and mediation in Hungary today
SIPOS, Tünde

In Hungary the first law on mediation has come into force in 2002. Accredited courses are available on conflict management and mediation. Although the opportunity is there, the culture of solving conflicts by mediation, negotiation is not yet well-developed, as is indicated by the large number of legal disputes at courts.Mediation is a means of reaching an agreement on an issue disputed between two parties with conflicting interests, in a democratic and peaceful manner. The respective parties are joined by a neutral third party, the mediator, who tries to harmonise their positions. Mediation leads to a stable result when both parties accept mediation as a means of finding a positive solution, as well as the person of the mediator. This procedure is for the time being relatively unknown in Hungary because the method itself is not known yet, and there are certain factors which prevent its spreading, these include human behaviour (people are reluctant to request assistance) and socio-psychological features. The essay introduces mediation in general and its application areas. Mediation can be used in many walks of life including the handling of library conflicts.

A history of fifty years; current and future research into the activities of Máté Kovács
TÓTH, Gyula

Máté Kovács (1906-1972) was a leading figure of Hungarian librarianship in the period 1945 to 1972. He worked as State Secretary in the Ministry of Culture, later as Director of the Debrecen University Library, finally as Head of the Library Department at the Budapest University. His oeuvre is a rich resource, as it includes important contributions not only on his personal career but also on Hungarian librarianship and library policy in the period in question. All the more as librarianship in the fifty years after1945 has not yet been fully analysed and evaluated, there are a lot of issues waiting to be explored.At the centenary events organised by the Máté Kovács Foundation in 2006 a comprehensive research programme was outlined. The bibliography of Máté Kovács’ publications, of the works about him has been already compiled. Further research should focus on processing materials from archives. It has not yet been investigated e.g. which political philosophy has motivated his library- and educational-political decisions, or his behaviour as a head of department. The paradox, why library policy was successful in the darkest period of the party-state era, and how could a European-level librarianship develop by the end of the 80-s, also needs investigation. Further questions to be answered: what made him apt for being a mediator between the actors of politics and the library profession; why did he not become a hurt politician after having been removed from the Ministry of Culture; why did he not leave Hungary; how far was he leftist as a politician of the Peasants’ Party; what made him become a leading figure in Hungarian librarianship, etc. The essay draws attention to the need for research into these and similar issues using new methods of interpretation and approach.

ANNIVERSARIES

60 years of Hungarian documentation centres
KÉGLI, Ferenc

After a brief overview of the pre-history of documentation centres in the 19th-20th centuries, the essay outlines the conditions in Hungary in the years 1949-1950. Socialisation has started, the first five-year plan was under way, and the institution system of planned economy was being set up. As planned economy required that independent documentation centres should co-operate and be centrally directed, a government decree was issued on documentation. According to the decree a new institution, the National Documentation Centre (NDC) was set up in 1949 to organise professional documentation institutions, to manage national registries, to exercise methodical leadership etc. As branch documentation centres belonged to different ministries and this was an obstacle to their co-operation, NDC was closed as early as 1950. Most of its tasks we taken over by the National Library Centre, while the four branch documentation centres figuring in the decree (in technology, agriculture, medicine and economics) continued to operate. As the government decree of 1949 has enabled the creation of other branch documentation centres, the relevant institutions in geography, literature science, law and history of art have come into being. Documentation in library science was organised as part of the National Library Centre, and, following its closure the National Széchényi Library Centre for Library Science and Methodology started operation in 1952. The centres, which were independent of library collections, were soon merged with existing libraries, or incited the organisation of relevant library collections.

Have the library association’s annual conferences led to any progress in librarianship?
PAPP, István

The first annual conference of the Association of Hungarian Librarians took place in Tata, Komárom county, in 1969. Since then this event has been organised each year in summer in a different city.The author – who took part at almost each meeting in the past 40 years either presenting a paper, or as an official of the association – draws a balance of the annual conferences, characterising them by location, organisers, themes, speakers and invited guests. In the first 20 years, till the change of the political system, the organisers, as a rule, chose neutral themes, oriented toward library policy and general political expectations respectively (such themes were e.g. the movement „For a reading nation”, preparations for the third and fourth national conferences on librarianship, the 500th anniversary of book printing, the state of education for librarianship, library ethics, central services, co-operation, issues of special literature supply etc.).From the late 1980s the themes have increasingly focused on current issues and developments, the importance of co-operation, economy and effectiveness (e.g. preparations for the new library law, interests and controversies in Hungarian librarianship, issues of services, fees and sponsoring etc.). The institutions in charge – county, city and academic libraries – have always done their best to organise these events. The invited guests were mostly prominent persons of cultural and political life. As regards the professional community, all the leading figures were present as speakers. Annual conferences have become traditional events of professional public life: they contribute to strengthening professional self-conscience, foster innovation and increase the prestige of the library profession.

FROM ABROAD

Reading and media use in Germany
SONNEVEND, Péter

The essay provides an overview of a rich survey material originating from Germany from the recent period. It stresses that in Germany reading and media use are considered as a very significant competence, and at the same time as a major contribution to the operation of democracy and the competitiveness of the country. The surveys reviewed include a comparison of cultural consumption in European countries, deal with the habits of reading and media use among kindergarten children, those in the lower and higher classes of elementary schools (PIRLS, PISA), teenagers, parents reading out for their children, the analyses of media research ordered by the German Parliament (Bundestag) etc. As a result of the educational-political efforts in recent years a certain positive development has been observed which should, however, be strengthened in the future. It is an important finding that the use of modern information technology may contribute to the better quality of reading among children and young people, nevertheless, it is absolutely necessary to prepare teachers for this. The materials used (ten surveys, ca. 1500 pages) are available on the internet.

SCHLÖGL, Christian – STOCK Wolfgang G.: Practitioners and academics as authors and readers: the case of LIS journals (Journal of Documentation, v. 64. 2008. no. 5) (Translated by Péter Dévai)

The article presents the communication habits of practitioners and academics based on 10 German-language and 40 international journals on library and information issues. Three questions have been put during relevant research: what is the role of practitioners as authors and readers respectively in communication on library and information science; is there a knowledge/information exchange between practitioners and the authors and readers of scientific themes; and whether there is a difference between journals dealing with theoretical and practical issues.

BAWDEN, David – ROBINSON, Lyn: The dark side of information: overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies. = Journal of Information Science, v. 35. 2009. no. 2) (Translated by Tibor Koltay)

We are witnessing a digital transition. Part of the problems raised in connection with information is not entirely new, and has not evolved as a result of the internet only. There are eternal problems which have now gained new features as a result of the new accomplishments of information technology. The article discusses the following problems: too much information and the paradox of choice (information overload, anxiety, information obesity, information deprival); web 2.0 and the end of civilisation (the lack of quality control, anonymity problems, losing self-identity etc.); possible solutions.

KULZER, Gudrun: Volunteers in the library? Findings of a survey (Ehrenamtliche in Bibliotheken? Ergebnisse einer Umfrage.= Bibliotheksforum Bayern, 2008. 2. 240–242. p.) (Translated: by Veronika Éger)

The Straubing City Library (Bavaria, Germany) has been hiring volunteers for five years. In 2007 the director of the library conducted a survey about the employment of volunteers, and summarised related experience in other institutions.

BOOK REVIEWS

Violence in the library
EICHHORN, Martin: Konflikt- und Gefahrensituationen in Bibliotheken. Ein Leitfaden für die Praxis. 2., überarb. u. erw. Aufl. 2007. (Reviewed by Sándor Katsányi)

Professional inspection in Hungarian libraries in the period 2002 through 2008, a summary
A könyvtári szakfelügyeletről. Tájékoztató a 2002–2008 közötti szakfelügyeleti vizsgálatok eredményeiről. (Szerk. Richlich Ilona) 2009. (Reviewed by: Alexandra Kövesházi-Muntyán)

Catalogue of old and rare books in the Library of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nagyvárad (Oradea)
A Nagyváradi Római Katolikus Egyházmegyei Könyvtár régi állománya. 1–2. Összeáll. Emődi András. (2006-2008). (Reviewed by András Lajos Róth)

The reader. A tribute to András Lakatos, reference librarian at the National Széchényi Library
Az olvasó. Írások Lakatos András tiszteletére. (Szerk. Fogarassy Miklós) 2009. (Reviewed by Györgyi Bartók)