Art Educators Working in Library
On Friday afternoon, October 22, 2021, there’s an intensive atmosphere in the children's section of the Helsinki Central Library, Oodi. The children work in three groups. There’s lots of interesting material placed around, such as LED sticks, cotton buds, artificial flowers, coloured lights, balloons, cardboard, and craft and drawing tools. Tape, scissors, and cardboard seems to be needed most. The enthusiastic inspiration is almost touchable. Children have the opportunity for spontaneous creative collaboration when a common idea is first invented and then produced as an animation. In their groups, they have made small scenes and a tablet is placed in front of it in a small stand. In the scenes, small changes are made together and then shot with tablet. Soon the materials and scenes will be cleaned up and the lights will be turned off. The children sit down to watch the finished animations on the large screen. After watching each animation, they stop to talk about its subject and making process. Instructors ask children for feedback on the workshop experience by showing their thumbs either up or down. Finally, applause. Most obviously the experience was great!
It’s all about autumn holiday activity for primary school children carried out by Oodi and Aalto: Animation workshop “Mitä ihmettä?”. It consisted of four workshops where overall 32 children took part during the autumn holidays. The program and implementation of the workshops were designed and supervised by Aalto University's art education students Niina Huovinen, Anna Anttila and Aino Haverinen Dudle. The instructors describe that they were surprised and pleased with the enthusiasm and smooth start of the creative collaboration between the children who did not know each other.
Senior University Lecturer in Art Education, Riikka Haapalainen
It is true that you can come across with art educators in libraries nowadays! It's interesting how libraries have expanded their activities.
"I think the best were the shouts of joy that slept through the mouths of the participants when some simple movement brought the character or drawing to life," says Niina Huovinen. “Among animations, even more success was experienced. For some it meant daring to come to the workshop alone, while for another it was to be heard in a small group. In this project, it was also great to get to know the Central Library Oodi as a work environment and organizer of diverse activities,” says Aino Haverinen Dudle.
Special librarian Sanna Huttunen from Oodi cheers how fun it was to see the enthusiasm of both the instructors and the workshop participants: “Insane creative energy, wonderful little stories were born in two hours!” Supporting the creativity and hobbies of children and adults is a key part of Oodi's activities, Huttunen says. She considers it important that it’s easy to attend workshops in the library, and that many dares to attend even if they had no experience. “Animation offers a variety of ways as narration and visual expression and transcends the language barrier. The approach of visual arts educators to making animation was fun and inspiring,” clears Huttunen.
Nevertheless, we can find that similar interesting art projects have been organized in the past as well. For example, the Media Mystery of Aalto Art Education and the Vantaa City Library was arranged for a first time a few years ago for elementary school students in Vantaa. It’s still going on annually and it also brought about a thesis. The students who have already graduated from Art Education, Oona Heinänen and Venla Heiskanen, completed their thesis, Pedagoginen yhteissuunnitelma Mediamysteeri hankkeessa, in 2018.
Senior University Lecturer in Art Education, Riikka Haapalainen, who acted as one of the coordinators in “Mitä ihmettä?”–project with Oodi, emphasizes an interesting point: "It is true that you can come across with art educators in libraries nowadays! It is interesting how libraries have expanded their activities and how well the experimental visual arts activity fits into it."
Special librarian Sanna Huttunen from Oodi
Animation offers a variety of ways as narration and visual expression and transcends the language barrier.
In the summer of 2019, the pioneer, Karkki Havaste, was hired from Aalto as the first, oven-fresh art educator, to work permanently as a special librarian for the city of Vantaa. Havaste says that today there’re already a few art educators working in the libraries in the Helmet area, but her job description is still quite unique in Finland. An important mission of the Vantaa City Library is to promote the multi-literacy skills of residents, and Havaste's tasks include the progress of visual literacy. "In my opinion, the literacy of our time infused with visual stimuli is more and more critical Civic skills, and we art educators are extremely well equipped to teach it," says Havaste, and continues describing her work: “It is my responsibility to develop image and media literacy across the city. I organize events, trainings, and projects for both our customers and the staff of Helmet libraries. I also participate in departmental and school co-operation, in organizing leisure services in library, in co-operation with parties, and especially in the presentation and recommendation work of media material."