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Reconfiguring the researcher-librarian relationship: evaluating South Africas Library Academy experience Colin Darch and Karin de Jager University of Cape.

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Presentation on theme: "Reconfiguring the researcher-librarian relationship: evaluating South Africas Library Academy experience Colin Darch and Karin de Jager University of Cape."— Presentation transcript:

1 Reconfiguring the researcher-librarian relationship: evaluating South Africas Library Academy experience Colin Darch and Karin de Jager University of Cape Town

2 Context: Research Libraries Consortium Project funding – Carnegie Corporation of NY Two 3-year cycles – 2006-09, 2009-12; –Cape Town, KwaZulu-Natal and Witwatersrand –Pretoria, Rhodes and Stellenbosch Further expansion unlikely (design too specific) 2

3 Context: Research Libraries Consortium Commons (physical space) Portal (virtual space) Academy and US Internships (librarians) –No direct equity component –Intensive –Transformative –But inadequate in isolation Question: what is the character of the intervention? 3

4 More Context: South African Research Need to improve research output –Is a Government policy objective –Innovation economic development Cadre of aging researchers –not being replaced –not demographically representative –gender, race, language Crisis of secondary education Reconfiguring of HE landscape 4

5 More context: South African LIS education Mostly undergraduate professional degrees –B.Bibl., B.Tech. Weak subject domain knowledge LIS schools closing down LIS schools shift towards teaching –IT skills –Knowledge management –Little disciplinary content One (LIS education) size fits all –academic specialisation, research skills 5

6 The Research Commons and the Portal Overall RLC objective: to improve support for researchers in South African university libraries –Dedicated virtual space – Research Portal –Dedicated physical space – Research Commons 6

7 ... and a Library Academy Aimed at mid-career librarians –Improvement in subject knowledge –Personal experience of research –Growth in confidence –Leadership –Able to support research How to achieve this? 7

8 The Academy and the US Internships Our solution in two parts: –Residential Academy, two weeks –Not about skills or training –Exposure to research journeys in different domains –Exposure to epistemology (not all positivism) The US internships –Selected from Academy participants –Mortenson Center at UIUC, as group, two weeks –4-6-week individual placements at ARL libraries Lots of report-back channels 8

9 The Academy Venue Montfleur Conference Centre, near Stellenbosch 9

10 The Library Academy as a Concept Partly an intervention re: LIS education in SA –LIS schools not producing academic librarians –Very little debate Partly a conventional CPE intervention –educational activities... designed to keep practicing... professionals abreast of their particular domain... and to provide them with training in new fields (Pors and Schreiber 1997) –writing a paper... considerable research and study... integral part of CPE (Weingand 2000) –mentoring... necessary for successful CPE (Houle 1980) –varied and complementary learning patterns (Houle 1980); wide range of activities... designed to meet identified... needs (Varleijs 2008) –broadening of content to include... recreation (Houle 1980) 10

11 The Academy Throughput Four Academies have been held –Some attrition (11 participants have left) Fifth is in process (October 2011) TotalWomen (%)Black (%) 20072080%55% 20081889%66% April 20102085%10% Oct. 20102085%30% 20112095%65% TOTAL:9887%45% 11

12 Writing a Paper: Experiential Learning Required of all participants –Potentially publishable... –Any topic: LIS, non-LIS Difficulty in identifying a research question Unprepared for peer review Outcome: range of published papers; special issue of Innovation 12

13 Some Academy Participants, 2010 13

14 Medium-term evaluation Self-evaluation not sufficiently objective Some quantifiable data required Library Directors or Deputies charged with RLC liaison have clearest insight into changes of attitude and behaviour in the workplace –Best able to provide impact assessment Online instrument developed Each respondent answered questions about their own individual staff members - by name Data collected about 67 participants 14

15 Survey instrument Structured according to RLC key target areas: –Personal development: Increase in confidence Leadership development –Research proficiency Increased contact with researchers Development of subject knowledge Conference presentation; and Publication –Professional development Pro-active use & promotion of new technologies More effective communication with library staff Job promotion 15

16 Personal development Have the participants shown an improvement in leadership since the Academy? In your judgement, have the following participants shown a significant increase in professional and personal confidence since participating in the Academy? (n=67) Leadership5684% Much more confident4872% Slightly more confident1522% 16

17 Research proficiency Since the Academy, have the participants become pro-active in pursuing closer contact with researchers and/or graduate students, up to and including active collaboration in research projects? Have any of the persons listed taken steps to improve their subject knowledge or expertise since they attended the Academy? Have any of the participants presented a paper at an academic conference, either on LIS or in another discipline, since the Academy? Have any of the following participants published an article since participating in the Academy? 17

18 Perceived research proficiency Active contact with researchers4466% Informal gain in subject knowledge4364% Conference presentations2030% Publication1827% Promotion1725% Some contact with researchers1522% 18

19 Professional development Have the participants shown an improvement in communication skills and sharing with colleagues since the Academy? Since the Academy, have participants pro-actively used existing or emerging Web or Internet technologies to promote library or research activity? Which Academy participants have been promoted since attending, and as a consequence of the Academy? 19

20 Perceived professional development Promotion of new technologies4060% Active communication2842% Proactive communication2436% Job promotion1725% Passive communication1319% BUT: [t]he promotions are not necessarily a consequence of the Academy. They are part of a larger library reorganization exercise as well as an appointment to a vacant management position. The Academy experience may have contributed but it is difficult to establish the link. 20

21 Constraints Research libraries under threat in SA: –Researchers dont all view libraries as essential –Researchers dont need librarians (or think they dont) –Many academic librarians have little subject knowledge –Often unable to provide specialised research support Time frame of our investigation fairly short 21

22 Conclusion Yet our results show that a short, intensive intervention can make a measurable difference: –to the way librarians perceive their role –to the way they work –to the way they engage with their clients Which can also have an impact on the national research enterprise. Thank you 22

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