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School of Information & Library Studies (SILS) UCD Dublin Dr. Claire McGuinness March 27 th 2006 Collaborating for Information.

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Presentation on theme: "School of Information & Library Studies (SILS) UCD Dublin Dr. Claire McGuinness March 27 th 2006 Collaborating for Information."— Presentation transcript:

1 School of Information & Library Studies (SILS) UCD Dublin Dr. Claire McGuinness March 27 th 2006 Collaborating for Information Literacy Development (ILD) Exploring the Dynamic Effect of Academic-Librarian Relationships on Information Literacy Development Programmes in Undergraduate Education

2 Background Information Literacy in Ireland Much activity since 2002 – Catching up with other countries! CONUL Working Group on Information Skills Training (First Report 2004) Commitment to IL in all HE institutional libraries First CONUL seminar on IL in February 2006 Dedicated IL courses in SILS Increase in IL research (e.g. MLIS theses) Library Association of Ireland (LAI) Working Group on IL (since 2005)

3 The Study Librarians & Academics.... How do we move from this…….

4 The Study ….to this? Information Literacy in the Curriculum requires a collaborative approach, as both sides have much to offer….

5 A Powerful (Potential) Partnership Academics: Control the learning environment Have strong influence over students’ information needs Are responsible for assessment protocols Exercise powerful influence on student motivation Influence student library use Have more teaching experience than librarians Librarians: Have a better understanding of how students actually do research in the library Have a high awareness of need for ILD Have a long history and experience of teaching library skills Have a superior knowledge of information tools & resource Keep up-to-date with changing technologies

6 The Problem Collaboration for ILD remains an aspiration, not a reality… most ILD dependent on individual academics who express interest. Talking the Talk, but… “optimism reigns eternal, despite clear evidence that the gulf continues intact. Are there grounds for hope that we can bridge the gap, or bypass it in some way, so that the goals of IL may be achieved?” (Badke, 2005, p.68).

7 The Red Herring… “Obstreperous faculty” (Badke, p.64) The Enemy at the Gates…. “We cannot be relegated to second rate partners in the educational process. We need bravery, not humility. Strength in our alliances. Power over our organisational environment.” (Kempcke, “The Art of War for Librarians”, 2002)

8 Still red… Julien & Given (2003) - analysis of librarians’ postings about faculty on ILI-L listserv Faculty possessive & territorial about class time Inflexible – will not accept courses taught by others Rude, touchy & uncooperative Emotionally detached from teaching role Needing a new approach to classroom activities

9 The Whole Story? Anecdotal Evidence “Most published discussion of the quality of faculty library relations is anecdotal; many librarians and a few classroom faculty have produced written accounts of good and bad experiences at their institutions” (Kotter, 1999) But, what do the academics think?

10 Some previous research findings Academics do value librarians’ work, but do not perceive them as equals Librarians make a limited contribution to students’ education, but provide important support services Academics do consider IL important, but generally do not work with librarians to facilitate it within undergraduate programmes Academics prefer teaching methods that they can control themselves Academics tend not to favour methods which require collaboration with outside parties (Cook, 1981; Divay et al, 1987; Oberg et al, 1989;Hardesty, 1991; Cannon, 1994; Ivey, 1994; Withnell, 1994; Leckie & Fullerton, 1999)

11 And back to the study… What are the barriers to academic-librarian collaboration? “Culture Clash”? (Hardesty, 1995; Badke, 2005) Academics’ Pedagogical Practices & Beliefs about Pedagogy? (Leckie & Fullerton, 1999)

12 Method Qualitative Approach – exploratory, flexible Semi-Structured Interviews – individual perspectives, conceptions, beliefs Purposive Criterion Sampling Two contrasting Disciplines Sociology (Soft-Pure) 20 Academics 5 Universities Civil Engineering (Hard- Applied) 20 Academics 4 Universities 9 Subject Librarians

13 Study Findings 12 Internal & External Factors which may adversely affect the potential for collaboration Internal: abstract phenomena such as beliefs, conceptions and perceptions, which determine participants’ decision-making and actions with regard to ILD. External: concrete circumstances in the institutional or departmental environment that prevent or facilitate action with regard to ILD, such as logistical problems or resource limitations

14 Findings Information Literacy Conceptions – limited conceptions that focus on information sources and information processes “[The information literate individual has] an experience in using libraries, and a limited experience and a limited knowledge of what bibliographic resources exist in libraries… and nowadays, an ability to use sources such as Internet, Internet search engines… and also some idea of the range of magazines, other sources that exist out there… and some vague idea, because I know you can’t ask for more.” (Soc) “Well, I don’t think [an information literate person is] someone who knows everything, I think it’s someone who knows where to go to find out a particular piece of information, or knows where to start off from to get a particular piece of information, that they know where the places are that you have to know about, that they know what Science Citation Indexes you need to use, how to use a library, etc.” (CivEng)

15 Findings Academics’ Belief that IL is already catered for in the undergraduate curriculum, as students become information literate through participating in a number of existing learning situations “But, I mean, in every Sociology course, you’re involved with reviewing previous literature, and then producing your own assessment of a question based on that review of literature. So, I would say, in fact, all of our courses do involve a degree of information handling.” (Soc) “We do exercises in one of the courses in second year, where they’re given a topic like ‘Basements in London’, and they have to go off to the library and research it.... And they have to come back and write a two or three page synopsis on basements in London.” (CivEng)

16 Findings Academics’ Belief that it is the students’ own individual responsibility to avail of the many opportunities to become information literate in their courses “They would be given the time and the space to do it… but that doesn’t say that they would have done it. If they wanted to be information literate at the end of coming out from here, they really could be, right? If they don’t prioritise that, or think that it’s important, they just will come out of here not knowing how to…” (Soc) “ I would suspect that with a number of them, it doesn’t matter what you do, they’re never going to be that…they’re probably not that interested anyway, they probably don’t see the value in it.” (CivEng)

17 Findings Academics’ Perception of librarians as support staff rather than educational collaborators. Conception of librarians’ teaching role limited to library orientation “When you go to a new university with a new library, you feel a little disoriented and disconcerted by it…it’s nice to get used to a library, and… the library staff can be very useful and helpful as far as that’s concerned. And they can, I mean… it’s important for them to be able to teach students how to find sources.” (Soc) “As far as our students are concerned, I wouldn’t see them having a major teaching [role], I’d see it as being restricted just to maybe a bit of…intensive periods of guidance on how to use the resources there [in the library]” (CivEng)

18 Findings Academics’ Perception that the library is not essential to undergraduate study (mainly Civ. Eng.) I don’t push the idea of them going to the library and spending time there consulting books, because… I think Engineering undergraduate study is about grasping the basic ideas, the under-riding mechanics of engineering.” (Civ. Eng.) “I suppose… many subject areas, their laboratory is the library… so I think the library staff have a big role there, you know? The library isn’t our laboratory, to the same extent.” (CivEng)

19 Findings Librarians’ self-perception of themselves as support staff rather than teachers, limited conception of own contribution to educational programmes “I mean, we’re here to teach them about library resources, tell them about library resources if you like – I don’t see myself as a lecturer as such, you know, going over to a department and giving a lecture on something… just personally, I don’t feel it’s part of a librarian’s job.” (Soc Lib) “Teaching sounds awfully formal… and I don’t see myself as being in a formal role like that.” (CE Lib) “I’m not the teacher as such, I am there to answer questions or whatever” (CE Lib)

20 Findings Time - Overfull teaching schedules, academics overburdened with work, no room for IL “I would have to read three newspapers every day, look at the Internet every day, read all the learned articles in the journals, in a vast variety of journals, and read all the books that have come out, whilst writing my own book, which is patently impossible.” (Soc) “The skills you’re talking about there [information literacy] - we’ve talked about this at length, you know, they would be sort of called ‘soft skills’ - and we have too many core skills to be getting across unfortunately, to spend too much time at that stuff.” (CivEng)

21 Findings Resistance to Change – introducing new teaching approaches is a slow process in academic departments “The way it works, like typically, is the Dean sets up a committee, and then there’s a person dragged from every department, and there’s this committee on “Telematics and Teaching”, which I was on, for example, and there comes out a report, and inevitably the report will say, try it, but resources will have to be put in place…that’s what the report says.” (CivEng) “You know, it’s just impossible to get things to change. Even beyond the department itself, there’s always, like, structural things within the college.” “You know, they want us to introduce new methods of teaching, but the physical environment really constrains you to do a traditional lecture format.” (Soc)

22 Findings Lack of Influence – librarians lack necessary institutional leverage to instigate change, poor representation on committees, little input to teaching curricula “But I think that… within the university, and every university, there’s a kind of apartheid. And I believe that we’ve come to a stage now, that the culture of universities needs to change… and the integration of other groups into the decision-making process, because a modern university can’t run without many of the professionals that are now in it, who are university educated, but who are excluded somehow.” (Soc Lib) “They won’t allow anybody [else] on the library staff to have representation on this committee, that really governs our life, and how things happen.” (CE Lib)

23 Findings Logistical problems – obstacles to change, including large student numbers, resistance among students to active learning, fears about plagiarism “Well, the numbers are huge, the second year course was about 280 students last year, this year it will be the third year options, they were both about 210, and a 160, maybe, respectively, so... small group teaching is just out the window.” (Soc) “There is a kind of culture now, people are very…we’re very reluctant to accuse anybody of anything… We have to be very, very careful…you know? Well, I mean, I think at least one student in [name of institution] has taken a college to court over it… this has been mentioned in quite a few meetings…you know, what are our rights to accuse students of certain things?” (Soc)

24 Findings “Spoon feeding” – providing students with all course material necessary to pass exams “I would give a reading list, which might support my notes... say my notes were particularly poor in some areas, you know, that they could go away to a textbook and see it, or for the brighter ones, they’d want to read a little bit around it. But there would be nothing in the exam that wouldn’t be in my notes.” (CivEng) “I think most people are pretty self-contained with the notes they hand out, and the courses they give. Now, there would be a tendency to say, you know, you should look at these books, but I think traditionally Civil Engineering students haven’t been great to go the library, because the notes and lectures and notes they would have taken down would be pretty extensive.” (CivEng)

25 Findings Teaching Paradigm – conforms to the behaviourist, passive model of “lecture – textbook – examination” – little space for active learning approaches such as group work “Most people, when they write exam questions, tend to make them information- based… there also tends to be, I think a hesitancy on peoples’ part to stray from topics that have been covered specifically in lectures.” (Soc) “The lecture theatres are the number crunchers – that’s what brings the students through the mill.” (Soc) “I mean if you teach one course, what they want is any textbook that will give them most of the information very quickly.” (Soc)

26 So – are Academics the Enemy? Academics are themselves frustrated by a number of environmental factors – large numbers, slow pace of change, fears about student behaviour and motivation, hectic schedules, personal career issues Pedagogical framework across the universities remains passive, despite ideological commitment to innovation There IS a “disconnection” (Christiansen et al, 2004) between academics & librarians, but it is a low priority for academics, most of whom had not considered it before Librarians are conflicted about the nature of their instructional role, and frustrated by their lack of influence within the academic environment

27 References Badke, W.B. (2005). Can’t Get No Respect: Helping Faculty to Understand the Educational Power of Information Literacy. Reference Librarian, 43(1), Cannon, A. (1994). Faculty survey on library research instruction. Reference Quarterly, 33(4), Christiansen, L., Stombler, M. and Thaxton, L. (2004). A Report on Librarian-Faculty Relations from a Sociological Perspective, Journal of Academic Librarianship, 30, Cook, M.K. (1981). Rank, status and contribution of academic librarians as perceived by the teaching faculty at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. College & Research Libraries, 42, Divay, G., Ducas, A.M., Michaud-Oystryk, N. (1987). Faculty perceptions of librarians at the University of Manitoba. College & Research Libraries, 48(1), Hardesty, L. Faculty and the library: The undergraduate experience. Norwood, NJ: Ablex, 1991

28 References Hardesty, L. (1995). Faculty culture and bibliographic instruction: An exploratory analysis. Library Trends, 44(2), Ivey, R.T. (1994). Teaching faculty perceptions of academic librarians at Memphis State University. College & Research Libraries, 55, Julien, H., & Given, L. (2003). Faculty-librarian relationships in the information literacy context: A content analysis of librarians' expressed attitudes and experiences. Canadian Journal of Information and Library Science, 27(3), Kempcke, K. (2002) The Art of War for Librarians: Academic Culture, Curriculum Reform, and Wisdom from Sun Tzu. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 2(4),

29 References Kotter, W. (1999). Bridging the great divide: Improving relations between librarians and classroom faculty. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 25(4), Leckie, G.J., & Fullerton, A. (1999). Information literacy in science and engineering undergraduates: Faculty attitudes and pedagogical practices. College & Research Libraries, 60(1), 9-29 McCarthy, C. (1985). The faculty problem. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 11(2), Oberg, L.R., Schleiter, M.K., & Van Houten, M. (1989). Faculty perceptions of librarians at Albion College: Status, role, contribution and contacts. College & Research Libraries, 50(2), Withnell, L. (1994). Faculty opinions of academic library service policies. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Information, 4(3/4), 23-79


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