Friday, 11 December 2009
Bad news for Librarians?
How College students seek information in the Digital Age ; the latest progress report from Project Informatin Literacy by Alison Head and Michael Eisenberg has been released.
It contains the findings from a survey of 2318 students across 6 campuses in the USA in spring 2009. It's well worth skimming through as they have found a deal of consistency across campuses in their findings. I am just pulling out a few findings :
"Librarians were tremendously underutilized by students" 80% reported rarely or ever turning to librarians for help with assignments. I believe that previous research has shown similar lack of contact with librarians. Do we overvalue our importance? I still believe that we should be pushing our service as personal. This is where Web 2.0 can help us to communicate and brand more easily. There is no mention of Web 2.0 in this report : perhaps this will figure in later sections.
Later on in the recommendations attention is drawn to the narrow view students showed of librarian services and "for the most part, librarians were left out of the student workflow, despite librarins' vast trainingt and expertise in finding information". Again depressing but I expect we have all read similar before!
They used a Library guide to conducting course-related research from Cornell, which is widely used elsewhere as a framework for how students may research. They found that there was wide divergence between this approach and that used by students. The propensity of using Google early on as opposed to later for example. I was surprised that they did not refer to this disconnect in their recommendations and suggest that it is better for librarians to be more laid back and inclusive about Google ; encourage efficient searching (as far as possible!), Google Scholar ; use search techniques learnt and the need to search the hidden web that Google doesnt cover ; then perhaps even appreciate the extra search capabilities of some databases.
They recommend librarians ask how and why services and resources are used rather than how often. Then we might find out why they are not being used. Reminds me of when I asked 200 plus students in a lecture theatre whether they had used Business Source Premier yet and if not why not! The answers were not comforting.
Picture is of me helping students in our Business PODs in University of Bedfordshire.