Working together: the final report: ALA 2012 (long)


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Slides from Elisabeth Leonard's presentation on the "working together: evolving value for academic libraries" research by LISU and commissioned by SAGE

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  • The research was conducted in two phases, firstly a series of case studies, 8 in total, taking place in the USA, UK and Scandinavia, and secondly a survey to triangulate the case study findings, i.e. to see how typical the case study findings were.The research team, with the assistance of Sage, also set up a project website to keep interested parties updated about the development of the project and to elicit comments throughout the project.
  • Librarians generally receive positive feedback about the support the library provides.The findings show that the faculty perception of the value of the library is not even across the board. Some faculty are very appreciative, and know what the library does. Others are less engaged and less appreciative of the work librarians do, and will be put off by the jargon of librarianship. A member of faculty actually argued that some members of academic staff may lack consideration for librarians – ‘They know the library matters but they don’t approach it in the right manner…I’m not sure that the faculty as a whole appreciate what librarians do or understand what they do’.On the other hand, there was considerable concern from the librarians interviewed that academics do not understand or appreciate all that the library can offer, to them as well as to their students. This was also reported in the survey. This growing disconnection between librarians and teaching and research staff is linked to the changing role of the library and librarians. Nowadays, the physical library is increasingly geared to meeting the needs of students, with cafés and social space provided alongside information resources and other services. Some academics find it difficult to reconcile these two roles, preferring a quiet library to work in, with not too many computers, the opposite of what pleases the students. One of the case study libraries conducted a survey where one of the salient findings was that many teaching and research staff regarded the library as simply a large undergraduate study hall.
  • Faculty value our services for their students' academic success. We are fortunate to have a building only 10 years old, which draws students because of its atmosphere and technology. Fewer and fewer faculty actually come to the library now that we deliver ILLs to their desktops or offices, deliver DVDs to their offices, and provide their favorite journals full text online.
  • Reference, instruction and provision of teaching and research materials through collection management and development used to be the way libraries supported the teaching and research staff community.With the electronic era and the subsequent ease of access to sources of information, libraries have had to go through the process of rethinking their services in order to refocus their support for academics in their teaching and research roles. These core traditional services are still part of the librarian’s remit, but they are becoming increasingly less prominent in favour of new roles.The next few slides provide examples of such reinvention as identified from our case studies.
  • Once the teaching partnership has been set up, academics can easily see and recognise the value of what librarians provide andthe impact this has on the quality of the work they receive from students. Embedding librarians into modules also helps to increase formal contact hours for students – this is an important driver, as students demand more for their fees. Previous ad-hoc teaching did not count towards this. However, one of the issues with embedded information training, which was recognised across the eight case studies, is that this is an extremely time-consuming support service. Some libraries were not actively promoting such initiatives across all academic departments, knowing that they did not have the capacity to deliver them on a large scale. Some libraries were cautious, not wanting to raise faculty expectations if they felt they would not be able to deliver embedded information skills training as a standard service.
  • Some of the US institutions in our case studies had taken embedded information literacy teaching a step further. Co-teaching, or integrated teaching, is gaining strength in the US, but it is still a developing area and take up is variable. This is a full partnership and the librarians’ input is not limited to the teaching of information skills. Librarians are fully involved in the design of the course – they contribute to the content, workflow, and assignments (both in terms of content and information literacy). They are also fully involved in the teaching – they review the research process, both in terms of content and research methods, and grade course assignments. Some liaison librarians have subject expertise (PhDs) but the research found that the success of co-teaching is not necessarily linked to a librarians’ level of subject expertise. It rather depends very much on the librarians themselves, their personality and willingness to teach, as well as their relationships with members of academic staff in the departments they work with. Co-teaching is generally focused on information literacy skills for research, and is often associated with courses that include research projects. The member of teaching staff provides subject content and expertise whilst the librarian helps with the pedagogy aspects of the course, i.e. planning, designing and implementing information literacy and critical thinkingAs with embedded teaching, some disciplines are thought to be more receptive to co-teaching than others. It started in health sciences, where evidence-based research is well-established, and is now trickling down to other departments on campus, such as social work. The vocational aspects of health teaching, particularly in departments such as nursing, for example, are seen as a facilitator to build and develop partnerships with librarians more easily.Another example of integrated teaching service is the library’s input into curriculumdesign. This is generally well appreciated and received by both senior managers and teaching staff. By being involved from an early stage in curriculum design and planning enables librarians have more opportunities to show teaching staff how librarians can contribute to the learning outcomes that have been set, and how they can help students develop information literacy skills and become competent practitioners. Increasingly, librarians provide assistance to teaching staff with the use of new information technology tools into courses, e.g. podcasts, wikis and blogs, as well as with developing fully web-based courses.
  • An increasing effort is generally made at research intensive institutions to provide support with issues such as open access, bibliometrics and data management, but this is not yet done in a systematic manner. The survey foundthat support for open access publishing and particularly for self-archiving were relatively more important to Scandinavian respondents than those in the UK or US, although such services did not feature as being amongst those thought to be most highly valued by research staff.Research staff often project a self-sufficient image, and librarians do not always feel confident to approach them to offer their help, and do not always know how to articulate relevant skills to support research staff, beyond the traditional roles of collection development and information skills training. Research support services widely available include help with open access publishing and/or self-archiving (institutional repositories), bibliometrics, and literature searching. Although literature searching is something that is well-developed in medicine and health sciences, notably with initiatives such as the Cochrane review, librarians supporting other disciplines recognise that very few members of research staff actually come for assistance with this. Findings from the case studies indicate that one of the main issues with research support is that it is very much dependant on the relationships librarians have established with academic departments, and withindividuals. Often, librarians and academics are not sufficiently well-connected to move towards a greater collaboration in the form of research partnerships. It is essential to develop stronger relationships between librarians and researchers, both in terms of communication and marketing. This would provide more opportunities for researchers to know the various ways in which the library can help them in their research process (some may have no idea of the range and extent of the library’s expertise in certain aspect of the research process despite formal communication sent out on a regular basis by the library), and ultimately more opportunities to build research partnerships with them.
  • One area of research support which libraries are particularly keen to develop is research partnerships, i.e. collaborative research or collaboration in the writing of grant proposals and academic outputs. This has been achieved with some success at some institutions, particularly in the area of medicine and health sciences. For the University of Nottingham, the involvement of subject librarians in systematic reviews is of particular interest. The librarians’ time is costed, and documented as part of the research proposal at a high level, to develop robust search strategies. The expertise of subject librarians in systematic reviews is recognised by research staff, who are willing to pay for librarians to conduct the systematic literature search. Librarians contributing to systematic reviews are also cited as co-authors on the publications. Another example of research partnerships is in the area of data management. Purdue University has taken a proactive approach to research support with the creation of a Data Services Specialist position.
  • This is the result of a significant amount of groundwork done by the library over the years to understand the needs of research staff in terms of data handling and sharing. Data management was identified as a growing area of concern for research staff at Purdue University, which is primarily oriented towards science and technology disciplines. The role of the Data Services Librarian is to help research staff to get more value out of their data through the organisation, description, dissemination (in ways that feel appropriate to research staff), and preservation of data. The Data Services Librarian works closely with liaison librarians to build on existing relationships with departments, and to approach members of research staff who work with data. The data service allowed Purdue Library to set up a significant number of research partnerships, particularly to secure grants, through the incorporation of sound data management plans into proposals, which are increasingly required by funding agencies. The success of this approach at Purdue relies on the library’s effort to ‘frame [the service] from a faculty perspective rather than from a librarian perspective’. The library has long recognised that the general issue of data management and curation was not of immediate interest to researchers when proposed as training sessions, awareness raising sessions or research collaboration. However, individual conversations with researchers, based on their research, enabled librarians to identify individual data needs and offer a response to those very specific needs. Although the end goal is the same, i.e. getting researchers to think about the management and curation of their data, the approach taken to achieve it differs, in that the service is no longer presented as yet another library training, for which researchers have no appetite, but as an individual response to a researcher’s specific need. The main issue with this approach is that it is based on one-to-one conversations, and thus requires considerable amounts of the librarians’ time to meet with researchers; but the library is hoping to develop a reputation as a valuable partner in this area and so build trust and credibility amongst researchers. The success of this approach is based on the fact that buy-in from research staff is increased as researchers see the library responding to their very specific needs. Purdue Library considers it essential that librarians engaged in research support ‘present themselves as someone who can solve a problem research staff are having directly,’ to facilitate engagement and interaction between research staff and librarians.
  • The changing role of librarians and their success in providing seamless remote access to digital information has engendered a growing disconnection between librarians and teaching and research staff. This is why raising awareness of what the library can do to support teaching and research staff, students and of its contribution to the wider institution is a key component of demonstrating value. There are three main routes that help raise the visibility of the library: communication, presence at departmental meetings and building personal relationships with faculty.Communication channels used by librarians to reach out to teaching and research staff vary, with different means of communication being thought appropriate for different messages. Librarians rely heavily on traditional channels, such as library newsletters, the website and emails to departmental library representatives to communicate with teaching and research staff about general library announcements, information about new resources and new initiatives undertaken by the library. Informal communication, seeking out staff at university events, conferences, etc., promotes visibility, which in turn promotes the services of the library to staff who may not know all that they offer. Innovative ways in which the case study libraries were engaging with teaching and research staff outside of the library setting to promote the library and its services included: • The library at Wake Forest University organises an annual Faculty Author Dinner, in collaboration with the Provost’s office to show recognition for significant faculty academic achievements. It is described as one of the great events of the year and gives an opportunity for faculty to meet with each other, as well as with librarians. From the library’s perspective, it helps liaison librarians to build stronger relationships with their respective faculty.• The library at Towson University provides a co-curricular programme to support events being held on campus. For example, during a film festival devoted to women, minorities and the media, one of the films shown was adapted from a book, so the library organised a reading group to discuss the book, and so promote the film show. • The library at the KarolinskaInstitutet seeks to engage with academic staff via a series of lunchtime lectures on popular scientific themes, with external speakers. These are free, and lunch is provided.Attendance at departmental meetings at relevant times throughout the year provides a great opportunity to improve the visibility of the library, talk with teaching and research staff about issues of immediate interest, such as open access, and to remind them what librarians can do for them. There was evidence though that it was not always easy for librarians to get an invite at such meetings. It is also important that the library is aligned with the University’s strategic goals and vision. Review objectives periodicallyCheck against objectives regularlyHaving a library representation in the university committee structure also helps raise the profile of the library, as well as making sure the library objectives are aligned with the University’s vision. The study found that library input is generally valued at a high level within the institution, on standing and ad-hoc committees.
  • Faculty outreach relies on very good personal relationships between teaching and research staff and librarians. Librarians that have good relationships with faculty recognise however that they do not reach all staff equally. Some academics just don’t use the services offered. They also sometimes project a ‘self-sufficient’ image. The issue for librarians is then to determine whether this is because the services are not needed, are inadequate, or are not known by academics. Personal relationships are seen as essential in the work of liaison librarians but they are also extremely time consuming and can therefore easily get sacrificed because of the lack of time to carry out the rest of the job. However, librarians who had invested the time in those relationships could definitely see the pay-offs in terms of faculty outreach.Most librarians in this study were liaison librarians and one may think that they have direct and personal relationship with most of the faculty members in the department they’re assigned to. Interestingly, the study found that firstly librarians generally don’t reach out to all faculty members (they actually reach out to a limited number of faculty members within a department), and secondly that not all librarians are necessarily comfortable with the idea of contacting faculty directly to let them know about a service that might be of interest to them. Trust is at the forefront of the relationship between librarians and the academic community they serve. It was recognised that it is important to build trust from an early stage and one way to build this trust is to take a proactive role and engage with new members of academic staff as soon as they arrive on campus before start of termSome libraries offer a formal library presence within some departments – librarians associated with an academic department have office hours within that department. This helps raise the visibility of the library and build relationships with faculty.
  • The following recommendations are made to individual librarians:Develop teaching skills – this is essential to develop successful teaching partnerships, and this was one of the points raised by faculty members during this study.Communication is central to the concept of improving the connections between the academic library and academic departments. Building strong personal relationships and dropping the library jargon in favour of a language that resonates with faculty’s interests is essential. In order to be able to speak in terms that resonate with faculty it is essential that librarians have a thorough understanding of their needs, both teaching and research needs.Using marketing strategies can also help in this respect.Finally, in the modern academic library, there is a requirement for librarians to be comfortable with the idea of expanding their skills beyond librarianship.
  • The following recommendations are made to library managers:Review current librarians’ skills at your library and invest in appropriate staff development opportunities. Be supportive and encourage staff to expand their skills.Review current tasks and processes to identify ways to streamline some of the processes to free up librarians’ time for more time-consuming roles.The process of building partnership may be seen as a daunting one by librarians. Documenting and sharing successful strategies taken to build partnerships with faculty will help raise librarians’ confidence to engage with faculty.There is an awareness and recognition that libraries need to collect evidence of value for teaching and research staff. The US case study libraries were keen to build an evidence base upon their success stories. Libraries generally find it difficult to come up with meaningful indicators making it possible to quantify the evidence of value to teaching and research staff. This is a developing area, particularly with institutions starting to recruit for an assessment librarian position.
  • Final report has just been published – “Working together: Evolving value for academic libraries”Available from the project website – as are interim reports and presentationsPlans for more dissemination via conferences and journal articles over the next few months.
  • Working together: the final report: ALA 2012 (long)

    1. 1. Presentation for ALA AnnualConference, Anaheim, CA, June 2012
    2. 2. Background 6-month research project  Value of academic libraries for teaching and research staff  Looking at evidence base and faculty perceptions Objective: How libraries can…  Better market their services  Improve perceptions with key decision makers Evidence of library support for research in literature  Less evidence on their support for teaching
    3. 3. Methodology Literature review • Literature review To inform Final report with • Case studies triangulated Case • 2 UK results studies • 4 USA • 2 Scandinavia Regional Confirmed by surveys • Survey of librariansElicit participation and comments via the project blog:
    4. 4. Research Questions• Do librarians have a good understanding of the needs of teaching and research staff?• Are librarians effectively promoting their resources and services? • Does this influence perceptions of the library amongst those staff?
    5. 5. What Do You Think? Library Value
    6. 6. Who do you think values the library most?A)ManagementB) AcademicsC) Students
    7. 7. Perceptions of the Library: Librarians  Feedback received is generally positive  Varies according to level of engagement  Concern that faculty do not understand library  „Staff never cease to be amazed at what we can actually provide/help them with.‟ (UK survey respondent)  Changing role of the library
    8. 8. Perceptions of the Library: Faculty  The library is not just a place to the faculty, but the services we provide. (US respondent)  Staff believe that young people are inherently tech savvy and do not need any additional guidance, instruction, or introduction to library resources. (Scandinavian respondent)  Academic staff tend to reply on their liaison for teaching database and searching skills, but believe that they can teach the importance of using scholarly material and evaluating sources (UK respondent)
    9. 9. Working together: services Embedded information literacy instruction Integrated teaching services Integrated research services Research partnerships
    10. 10. What Do You Think? Library Services for Teaching
    11. 11. What service do you think is most valued by the teaching staff? A) Promoting newly acquired information resources B) Information literacy group training C) Support from subject specialist librarians D) Information literacy teaching embedded into classes E) Liaison work with departments F) Something else
    12. 12. Faculty Response to EmbeddedInformation Literacy Instruction  Benefits  Academics see value  Increase in quality of the work received from students
    13. 13. Faculty Response to Integrated Teaching Services Success of co-teaching not necessarily linked to the librarian’s level of subject expertise Librarians expertise helpful in use of IT tools in courses  E.g. podcasts, wikis, blogs
    14. 14. What Do You Think?Library Services for Research
    15. 15. What service do you think is most valued by the research staff? A) Promoting newly acquired information resources B) Help with literature searching C) One-on-one information literacy training D) Support from subject specialist librarians E) Something else
    16. 16. Faculty Response to Integrated Research Services Research support usually includes:  Open access, bibliometrics, literature searching  Survey found that support for Open Access publishing and particularly for self-archiving were relatively more important to Scandinavian respondents than those in the UK or US Relationships are key!
    17. 17. Areas to Enhance Future Value: Research partnerships Support with grant applications  Inclusion of the cost of the resources needed for the project Assistance with data management  Data Specialist Librarian
    18. 18. Areas to Enhance Future Value: Research Partnerships Data Specialist Librarian  More value from research data Generates more research partnerships Success factors  ‘frame [the service] from a faculty perspective rather than from a librarian perspective’  Direct response to researchers’ individual needs
    19. 19. Marketing the Library
    20. 20. Librarians’ Views: Visibility of the Library and Library Services Communication  Wide range of traditional communication channels Presence at departmental meetings  Engage with departmental leadership  Representation in university committee structure  “Whether this is a good idea or not (and ignoring practicalities), I almost think that turning off all of our electronic resources for a day or three would increase the perceived value of the library” (UK respondent)
    21. 21. Librarians’ Views: Personal relationships Bring trust Make it possible to tailor services to specific needs  Offer a response to a direct problem
    22. 22. Recommendations
    23. 23. Recommendations to Individual Librarians Know your audience – research their needs, discuss with them Go beyond the comfort zone – expand skills and knowledge beyond librarianship
    24. 24. Recommendations to Libraries and their Managers  Skills assessment & staff development at your institution  Free up time for new demands on librarians  Document and share the process of building partnerships – for the benefits of other librarians at your institution (Wiki-based document?)  Start to collect evidence of value  Success stories? Quantifiable evidence?
    25. 25. To find out more… Final report now published Project website  Contact  SAGE:   LISU: 
    26. 26. Thank youQuestions?