Slides 1-7 = 10 minutes Slides 8-18 = 25 minutes (5 minutes per example) 15 minutes group discussion, 3 guiding questions, contributing to a shared TitanPad document 5 minutes discussion summary 5 minutes wrap-up and questions
Kathy: Coordinating reference services at the TRU library (which we’ll explain in more detail in a minute) Elizabeth: coordinates the Library Instruction Program, teaching students to conduct scholarly research through in-class sessions and drop-in workshops KG: WHO ARE YOU? -any academic or school librarians in the audience? -college or university instructors or faculty? -K-12 teachers?
KG: What do we mean when we talk about “reference services” -traditionally: in-person interactions where librarians answer research questions – whether in-depth advice on search strategies, or simply queries about how to find a particular book or article -while also received by email or by phone, these questions have traditionally been counted at the Reference Desk itself, when library users approached the desk with a question. These transactions have been on a steady decline. Graph: shows 20 years of academic library activity from North American research libraries; while some types of library activity have continued to rise (library presentations, in particular, continue to increase in number and in number of students reached), reference transactions have decreased.
KG: The trend at Thompson Rivers University library is no different. Although our decline has been less dramatic, overall our reference transactions are dropping too. NOTE: 2006 we merged with the British Columbia Open University, which would account for an increase in traffic, and then in 2011 we opened a 2nd branch here on our Kamloops campus, and doubled our reference desk service hours. Despite both of these changes, our numbers are still less than what they were 15 years ago.
ER -we see that they’re struggling (and have been for a while) when they do finally come in to ask for help -we hear from faculty that students are relying too heavily on websites, or not citing literature from their disciplines, or not adequately reading and synthesizing the material that they have found, instead opting to cut and paste a series of quotes or cited facts. -suspect that you see this too, in your various teaching capacities, and in the assignments you receive??
ER The alternatives to the traditional Reference Desk are many, and we’re not inventing anything new here; the library literature is filled with ideas that other institutions have piloted. But with limited resources, we cannot jump on to every new bandwagon – and new services need to be assessed to determine whether they’re working, and dropped in favour of trying out new possible solutions if they are not.
ER We’d like to walk you through 5 different ways in which the TRU library has attempted to connect with students beyond our traditional physical reference spaces. Afterwards, you’ll be asked to breakout into small discussion groups to talk about whether any of these methods would work in your teaching contexts, and whether you’ve tried any of these or any other ways of connecting your students to library resources, whether successfully or not – so while we present what did and didn’t work for us, and why we made the decisions we did, do keep your own classroom culture and instructional spaces in mind. The decline of traditional reference services is pretty much universal; the alternatives are certainly not.
KG Going on the assumption that if students aren’t physically in the library, perhaps they’re online, we’ve set up TRU Library accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and recently Pinterest, giving students the options of asking us questions in those venues. (images on these blue slides, to be accompanied with explanations of the project; stats, assessment, etc. on the 2nd slide of each example)
KG We were the first academic library in Canada to have a Facebook presence, joining in Fall 2007. Admittedly, we had no idea what kind of service we would offer through this medium. We simply wanted to explore a place where students were gathering. We were thrilled when we finally, months later, received our first question – and it remained our only question for several months afterwards. Over the years this service has organically morphed from a service where we thought students would be interacting and engaging with the library (asking questions, liking posts,etc...) to a service that is mostly sharing library news items and promoting events. As a replacement for reference services, social media hasn’t been the answer for us – and that’s somewhat understandable, that students wouldn’t want to be reaching out to us academically where they’re logged in for social interaction with their friends.
ER If students were online, but not wanting to ask academic research questions in their social spaces, then perhaps the solution was to create and use online academic spaces. AskAway and Meebo are both chat services. AskAway started in 2006, and is a collaborative partnership between 29 publically funded post-secondary libraries across British Columbia and the Yukon Territory. In 2007, TRU Library placed a Meebo chat box on its library webpage. Meebo was a free cross platform chat widget that allowed students to ask a question of the library without having to divulge their username or even having an instant messaging account.
ER In 2006, TRU users asked 108 questions on AskAway and TRU Librarians answered 149 questions from post-secondary learners. Over the last several years, this service has seen outstanding and Incredible growth. In 2014 (to date), TRU students have asked nearly 800 questions and TRU Librarians have served nearly 500 post-secondary learners. At its peak (2009), TRU Librarians answered 225 questions in a year through Meebo, but the number of questions steadily declined as it became harder and harder to staff the service - most librarians were staffing the service while they were in their offices doing other work, and shifts could be cancelled due to meetings or other obligations. Students turned away from this chat feature and started using AskAway likely because of the greater hours of service (until 10pm) and consistent staffing. In 2012, Google bought Meebo and shut down the service. TRU Library decided at that time to not pursue another self-run chat service; as a chat option, AskAway is a more reliable, sustainable option for us, and a better investment of limited librarian time.
KG In the summer of 2011, TRU opened a new building - the Brown Family House of Learning. The new building is a multifunctional space, and the library only occupies most of the 3rd floor (where we have our collections), and a Reference Desk on the 1st floor. Reference staff were getting reference questions on the 1st floor in our &quot;information commons&quot;, but those questions were overshadowed by the surge in IT related questions when the IT desk was unstaffed. Further, library clerks on the 3rd floor were asking reference staff to come up 2 floors to help students who needed assistance searching and working in the collection. Staff grew increasingly dissatisfied with how we were delivering reference services; while in-person reference questions in general have been on the decline, there is still a need for some sort of physical space, and we felt that we really didn’t have that space right in this new building. Reluctant to abandon our &quot;information commons&quot; so soon after moving into the building, in Spring of 2012 we decided on doing a pilot to see if &quot;roving reference&quot; might be the solution to assisting students more effectively, as this was a service we’d read about being adopted successfully at other libraries. Reference staff were instructed to “rove” within the House of Learning using laptops or ipads. The staff could move around the different floors of the House of Learning, station themselves among the students in the student study areas, sit with circulation staff on the third floor, or some combination of thereof. Reference staff were encourage to explore the space and service and find a means that worked best.
KG After a semester-long pilot, the library decided to drop the roving reference initiative. Roving did not generate additional reference questions. Students in the commons areas appear to be studying and not actively engaged in research; the general seating area and collections area were not spaces for active research, and while they were technically “library spaces,” reference staff expressed significant discomfort with approaching students and offering assistance, unless that student was visibly needing assistance – we felt we were invading their space, while they were in “our” space! Students still expressed confusion as to where to seek out research help, and reference staff expressed a strong and unanimous preference that the reference/information desk be located on the third floor - nearby to help students seeking help, but not invading their study spaces. The move of the service desk from the 1st floor to the 3rd floor occurred in January 2014. This isn’t to say that “roving” isn’t a potentially successful way of bringing reference services to students; it just wasn’t the right fit for our students, in the building where we chose to “rove.”
ER This next section represents a series of initiatives, all of which take place in non-library spaces. In other words, rather than sitting at a desk in the library and waiting for student and questions to come to us – or just roving within our own building – we’ve tried bringing our services to other spaces on campus. In some instances this meant setting up and seeing if students approached us with questions in these other spaces; in other cases it has meant being more proactive, and showing up with food, swag, and assorted library workshops. Non-library outreach has been tried at the campus ESL Centre, with the academic success program established for student athletes, in Student Residence, and at Cplul’kw’ten (aboriginal Gathering Place, pictured.)
ER 1. ESL Centre: every Friday, the ESL Department runs a Learning Centre where students can receive individualized instruction from ESL instructors. During the Fall 2010 semester, library assistance was offered during Learning Centre hours one Friday per month. While students did come into the Centre, they were all needing help with their writing, not with their research; after receiving ZERO questions 4 months in a row, it was pretty easy to make the decision not to offer this particular service the following semester – it was clearly the wrong space for us to be helping ESL students, as we didn’t fit with how they were already using this place and service. 2. PACE stands for “Pack’s Academic Edge” It’s a program that was first piloted in Fall 2013 by Student Services and Supplemental Learning, creating a weekly study hall for TRU Student Athletes (with the TRU Wolfpack.) -Winter 2013: 2 evenings, each time offering a short workshop and then to offer drop-in research help. Approximately 6 students were in attendance at the study hall both evenings; none were interested in the workshop content, and only 1 student asked for research assistance (at the very strong urging of the peer tutor in charge that night.) That said, the same student followed up with me twice more outside of PACE hours, all during the last week of classes, and while reaching 1 former non-library user wasn’t exactly a huge success, it was enough to agree to try again the following semester! Fall 2013: scheduled 3 drop-in help sessions. The program itself had grown, and was now required by some coaches, so about 30 students were in attendance each night. Received 4, 5, and 2 reference questions respectively, including two from students who’d missed library instruction classes with me earlier in the semester as they’d been at away games – so we were making connections and providing the exact type of support the program was intended to provide. The numbers aren’t huge, but they’re certainly comparable to an evening shift at the Reference Desk. We were aided by the fact that one of the program’s peer leaders was a strong library supporter herself, who had made 1-on-1 library appointments for her own research in the past, and who advocated strongly for the value of library help when advising the athletes. Winter 2014: the model of the program changed yet again, as fewer students were required to attend by their coaches, and numbers dropped. Not wanting to waste librarian’s time, PACE peer leaders suggested trying on-call help, rather than scheduling specific dates in advance. Towards the end of the term when they encountered several students struggling with papers in the regular weekly sessions, they then asked for a librarian to come in the following week, and directed those specific students to me for help (3 students in an evening, again not dissimilar to an evening reference shift.) We will continue to work with the program as it evolves; with peer leaders creating an environment and culture that encourages research and library use, the PACE study hall has the potential to be a good space to connect with one specific group of students. 3. Student Residence: when we decided to try meeting students where they quite literally lived, we decided to again try offering mini-workshops in addition to just offering the drop-in research help, so that there was something specific Residence Advisors could promote. Sessions were on Sunday evenings, at the advice of the Residence Life Coordinator; the Library worked with the Residence Life Coordinator to provide snacks and door prizes at the 1st session in Fall 2012, which 6 students attended. January 2013 and April 2013 attempts to repeat the event weren’t as successful; nobody attended, and when the librarian worked with a new Residence Life Coordinator to schedule two more workshops in Fall 2013, the food part was dropped, as it had been going to waste. 1 student attended one of the Fall 2013 sessions, and at that point the library was going to drop offering these sessions, as the initiative wasn’t working. In Winter 2014, however, yet another Residence Life Coordinator approached the library about participating in an April study session – and while the library wasn’t planning on taking the lead in trying to make any more of these workshops happen, the fact that this request was initiated by Residence staff was enough for us to agree to give it another shot. Unfortunately the evening scheduled happened to also be the night of the annual athletes awards banquet (which we’d have known, had we again been working more closely with the PACE program during this semester!) so many students living in residence had other plans; we did still assist 2 students with their research. 4. Cplul’kw’ten: the library has been providing at least a couple of hours of drop-in research help per week at the aboriginal Gathering Place since at least 2008. Statistics weren’t regularly collected the first several years, but numbers have never been huge – perhaps 2 or 3 questions in a 2 or 3 hour shift. That said, librarian presence at Cplul’kw’ten isn’t just about the numbers; it’s also about building relationships with staff and students (for the past few years we’ve been providing help on weekly “Soup Day” so that we also get the opportunity to meet, eat, and talk with students). The hope is that by becoming a more familiar face in “their” spaces at set times during the week, students will feel more comfortable seeking us out for help in “our” library spaces when they need help at other times – and the students who drop by my office specifically because they know me, or who book appointments for help asking for me, at least anecdotally suggest this is the case. Winter 2013: 32 questions (entire term) Fall 2014: 24 questions Winter 2014: 21 questions Winter 2014: added to the “Library Team” at Cplul’kw’ten, having 2 library technicians provide the drop-in help on soup days (so answer those 21 questions,) while the librarian scheduled and taught a series of 6 mini (15-minute) workshops at the Gathering Place at other times. These had 17 students attend, in all. The idea was that the drop-in reference services would be promoted at the workshops, and vice-versa, hopefully overall increasing awareness about the availability of the Library Team and the assistance we are able to provide.
ER “Embedded librarians” or “course librarians” collaborate with instructional faculty and are intentionally included as part of a course, whether that’s face-to-face, online, or blended. Librarians teach students and assist them with their library research as part of the course curriculum, rather than waiting for students to approach the library with their questions. Example #1: ENGL 4260: Collaborated with a willing 4th year English instructor 2 semesters in a row (Fall 2011 and Fall 2012): 1st visit to introduce self and ask students about their research strengths & challenges 2nd visit to introduce specific advanced search tools & to address challenges 3rd short visit to provide suggestions about their research essay proposals In between the 2nd and 3rd visit, students handed in their Essay Proposal & Annotated Bibliography and had to book a 1-on-1 appointment with a librarian , either before or after handing in their proposals; students also received emailed feedback on these assignments from a librarian, suggesting further resources to incorporate into their Final Essays. Both years, students were also asked to reflect on their experiences with the “course librarian” on their final exam. Most feedback was fairly positive. Many students admitted that they’d been nervous when they first found out they would have to meet with a librarian as part of their course! Many also indicated that they’d have found the experience more useful if it had been in an earlier course in their program, as for most this was one of their last classes. While successful, also very time consuming, and not something we can do on a large scale, or with very many classes
ER Example #2: NURS 1700 -on Moodle, following face-to-face instruction (so a blended delivery model) -we teach 2 sections, each with approximately 45 students; each section is split into 2 smaller labs (in order to allow for hands-on research time) each with a librarian – so 4 librarians provide 12 hours of classroom instruction, in total. All of the librarians then have access to the course Moodle sites, where we post follow-up notes, tips about their research assignment, and field questions in a discussion forum. Have been collaborating with instructors to provide in-class library instruction in this course for at least 8 years, and have had a presence in the course Moodle site for the last 3 years. -While somewhat time intensive, this targets our efforts with a large 1st year cohort, preparing them for the rest of their program – so is a good use of our time and energy. The place (Moodle or in a classroom) isn’t as important here as the cultural shift, working with faculty to embed ourselves into courses and programs. Teaching is proactive; we’re trying to build information competency in our students both so that they don’t need to be seeking us out to ask the more basic questions, and so that they know where and when to find us and what sort of questions they can come to us with. Rather than seeking out more ways to provide reference services (though we do continue to do that, too), collaborating with faculty and a push for more embedded library instruction ensures that we’re teaching more students how to more effectively and efficiently make use of all library services, reference included.
KG We now want to give you some time to talk about whether these initiatives would work in your teaching environments, and whether you’ve tried other approaches for connecting students with librarians and library resources, either in your classrooms or at your institutions. We’d like for you to break into small groups of 3-4 people, so that more people have the chance to share their experiences. Turn and group up with a few people sitting near you, and if possible, try to have at least one individual with a laptop or ipad in each group. If you go to the URL on the slide, we’ve set up a Library Guide for today’s session, and on the first page of that you’ll find a link to a QikPad page with the 3 questions we’re having you discuss. We would like for you to contribute to the document and share some of the things that come up in your discussion. Bullet points and partial thoughts are fine. 10 minutes (or a little more, if discussions are productive) to talk and add to online document 5 minutes to scan through document, ask for elaboration on any interesting new ideas that come up, get input from anyone who wasn’t able to type their responses into the document (KG moderating, ER typing to capture those thoughts too).
KG -no one-size solution -ongoing challenge to find the right spaces and places to be reaching students – especially as our students change, and so do the campus spaces in which we work (physical and online) -providing strong, relevant and timely service requires flexibility and a willingness to try new ideas, collaboration with instructional faculty and other campus partners, and to give things up if they’re not working for us and for our users
Beyond library walls : CNIE presentation 2014
n for the
BEYOND LIBRARY WALLS:
MEETING LIBRARY LEARNERS
OUTSIDE OF TRADITIONAL
TRU Reference & Web
TRU Instruction & Outreach
WHO ARE WE?
What are traditional Reference Services and how are they
Where are we meeting our library users at TRU:
1. On Social Media
2. Through chat services
3. Roving reference
4. Non-library spaces (Residence, Student Services, etc.)
5. Embedded in their classes
Discussion: where are your students finding the library? How
do you facilitate this?
…doesn’t mean that they aren’t struggling to find appropriate
scholarly resources to support their academic work.
JUST BECAUSE THEY AREN’T COMING IN TO
We still need to find a way to reach and teach students.
If students aren’t coming into the library, we need to find
other places to meet with them.
Trends in library literature, software, and services move fast;
there isn’t a shortage of new ideas to try.
The challenge is to identify which new ideas to try, how to
assess whether they’re working for us, and to find the best
solutions for serving the students at our campus.
How would these
projects work in your
else have you
students to connect
with their library?
BEYOND THE REFERENCE DESK AT TRU
Would any of these approaches work in your situation, or
have you implemented similar initiatives at your institution?
What other ideas have you considered or tried to “get
students into the library” – or to bring the library to students?
How did you determine whether it worked or not?
Are there specific challenges you face in your teaching
context for developing information competencies in students?
A record of today’s discussion
Our presentation slides
More details on all of the programs and initiatives discussed today
Kathy Gaynor: email@example.com
Elizabeth Rennie: firstname.lastname@example.org