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Information literacy at the issue desk: the role of circulations staff in promoting information literacy. Hauxwell

Presented at LILAC 2008

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Information literacy at the issue desk: the role of circulations staff in promoting information literacy. Hauxwell

  1. 1. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 Information Literacy at the Issue Desk The role of circulations staff in promoting information literacy Hannah Hauxwell UWE Library Services, Hartpury College
  2. 2. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 Context • University of the West of England Library Services at Hartpury College: HE library serving both HE and FE students • Two service points: Issue (Service) Desk dealing mainly with circulations, plus Enquiry Desk for more in-depth support
  3. 3. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 DISCUSS: Thought Experiment Imagine that the world is made up of three kinds of people: Nouns (“object words”) Adjectives (“describing words”) Verbs (“doing words”)
  4. 4. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 What is IL support? • Information literacy support is any “intervention” which helps our customers to make effective use of library resources • Our “customers” have very diverse learning needs and expectations • Information literacy promotion and support happens at a number of levels.
  5. 5. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 Embedding information literacy • IL literature: collaboration with academics to integrate IL into the curriculum = “embedded” IL • “IL” tends to mean formal level: teaching sessions, orientation, assessment • All this can seem detached from staff on the Issue Desk: but we do IL too!
  6. 6. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 Case study: interlibrary loans • Many requests received for “in stock” items: request forms returned to customer with info about the resource • ILLs staff able to filter at Issue Desk: eg show customer how to check catalogue • Also able to give other advice in context, such as referencing, assessing sources
  7. 7. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 Example of ILLs reply slip Inter-lending Team Library Services Learning Resources Centre Hartpury Campus Hartpury Glos GL19 3BE Telephone: 01452 702160 E-mail: e-journal This journal article is available on the internet at: You may need a password in order to access it. Please ask at the Enquiry Desk upstairs in the LRC if you would like help with this. On the Library Catalogue, electronic journals are displayed in a similar way to the printed journals. Please check the Library Catalogue before placing journal article requests.
  8. 8. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 DISCUSS: IL Roles • How are IL tasks and roles defined in your institution? • What strengths can paraprofessional staff bring to IL objectives?
  9. 9. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 IL at the Issue Desk • Customers not interested in the “Customer Services”/”Collection Development” divide • Contextual IL: giving ad hoc training when the customer needs it (ie is receptive) • Embedded IL: IL as a natural part of the “library experience” at all levels: from finding a book to researching a thesis.
  10. 10. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 Teamwork: A Three Tier Model • Policy • Procedures • Practice (includes Issue Desk!)
  11. 11. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 DISCUSS: Three Tier Model • IL policies • IL procedures (formal interventions such as teaching sessions) • IL practice (informal interventions – dealing with enquiries, ad hoc encounters)
  12. 12. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 The intuitive library • Literature talks about “intuitive” interfaces for e-resources: means it is obvious what to do. • Is IL really an exercise in making our customers fit our service? • Do we need to think about making the library more “intuitive”? • Circulations staff have a feel for customer needs, experiences and expectations.
  13. 13. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 Soft Skills • Library assistants have a lot of contact time with students • The library exists for its customers, not the books or computers it contains! • Library assistants can provide valuable information about how IL programmes are working
  14. 14. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 Health Warning One: “All generalisations are false” • I am not a typical library assistant in some ways! I came to the role with a degree and a high level of IT literacy and confidence • All libraries have their own dynamics • “Historical” factors need to be considered
  15. 15. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 Health Warning Two Don’t upset your staff! • The situation described = “organic” or “bottom up” process • Don’t push your library assistants out of their comfort zone • “Top down” implementations are particularly hazardous for morale
  16. 16. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 “Forgotten Heroes” • The Issue Desk is fairly unavoidable for students, so use it as an opportunity to promote IL. • Library assistants can be the ones who bridge the gap between formal IL and individual student experiences of the library: they could be the forgotten heroes of IL!
  17. 17. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 Some Questions for You • How much IL are your library assistants already doing, and how are you supporting them? • What would you like your library assistants to do to promote IL? • How are you going to train them, support them, and keep them motivated?
  18. 18. Hannah Hauxwell March 2008 For More Information Please feel free to contact me if you would like to know more about my paraprofessional experiences: