Thank you for choosing my session! - Introduce myself – role at King’s, finished UCL LIS MA in September 2018 (worked almost F/T and studied P/T) – this presentation will introduce my dissertation research, which was a case study based at King’s. - King’s is a multi-campus research university with 6 libraries. Staff have a ‘home’ library, but also cross-site work.
- My knowledge of IL – previously skills-focused - Workplace IL – emerging area of research. Inspired by AnneMaree Lloyd and Marc Forster Their work has expanded the information literacy horizon to reveal a more holistic practice, one that is context-dependent and reliant on social and corporeal knowledge alongside digital and text-based materials. Very relevant to staff and our library users. Paraprofessional as a term – widely used in LIS literature. - CILIP workforce mapping for UK HE - I manage a team of predominantly paraprofessional staff, I’d estimate about a third are professionally qualified. - For development, frontline paraprofessional staff are reliant on internal training & development opportunities, boosted by external training and networking - Development of paraprofessionals is an under-researched area as evidenced through my literature review. A gap to be filled.
Following on from why I wanted to explore this topic…
The aim of this study was to contribute an enhanced understanding of the workplace information literacies and information practice of UK academic frontline paraprofessional staff.
Information practice = information activities and skills which recognises the impact of social and cultural aspects on that process. Obtain data on the experience of FALPs on their training practices, professional development and lifelong learning, alongside their thoughts on their own professional identity. Could influence how they engage with professional development and training.
Libraries must advocate for their value and impact at the heart of the university, it is vital that FALP staff develop their IL skills and knowledge and can communicate these effectively with library users, as they are the first point of contact for many users, especially students.
4 mins - how did you research this? Research method you used, participants or data source (who or what? How many? Where from?), Analysis method, any major limitations?
The case study is an established research methodology and can incorporate interviews as the data collection method. Interviews - can develop an exploration of a subject through verbal questioning, and can respond flexibly to the interviewee. Maximal variation - can reveal unique factors as well as identifying shared patterns that have emerged from difference. Variations included participants of differing gender, years of employment at the institution and educational background. Thematic analysis provided the methodological foundation - provides a theoretically flexible approach to qualitative analysis that can be used to identify and analyse patterns within data in rich detail. Limitations – time and sample size Limitations – power dynamic – could impact on openness - this was reduced where possible by the researcher through providing a clear outline of the research aims in advance of the interview, anonymizing the data, providing a comfortable and private environment for the interview and creating an approachable and friendly rapport. This is a strength of my line management style! As an embedded practitioner, I’m arguably better equipped to interpret nuance and wider references in the community.
Analysing the data - used an open and descriptive coding process.
Themes mind map.
Provided a structured framework to manually review the data and identify themes and ideas.
Main themes were: information practice, professional identity, professional development, CoP and culture of the organisation.
Theory devised by Lave & Wenger. CoP are formed by a group of people engaged in collective learning. Aligns with IL as holistic.
Learning through observation was valued, with individuals identifying expertise.
Active learning was also identified by participants as central to their learning.
Participants also use colleagues as a point of comparison to determine their own individual capabilities. Collaborative. Motivating.
Overall, the data highlighted the diverse nature and motivations of the interviewees as a community of practice; impacted on their motivations within the role.
The need for trust in information-sharing relationships.
Developing and maintaining relationships with colleagues is a vital aspect of a successful CoP; this was evidenced by all the interviewees.
Dedicating time to chat with colleagues, getting to know their individual personalities and interests to develop a good rapport. Four interviewees stressed that they found it easier to develop closer working relationships with colleagues from their local team due to increased exposure and time spent together.
Most of the participants preferred their local peers as immediate information sources, whilst also relying on colleagues with specific areas of expertise. Seeking feedback – reflecting on enquiries – what worked, what could be done differently?
As Lloyd argues, the ability to develop workplace relationships is vital to successful workplace IL as learning is a ‘socially situated practice’ (Lloyd, 2010, pp. 22). So it's important we create environments where this can be fostered.
It was notable that IL and search strategies didn’t form part of their lexicon. This may in part be due to training practices, and the organisation terminology. Presents a gap that needs to be addressed.
The participants think of IL in terms of what they should facilitate for users rather than themselves.
3 participants employed a ‘trial and error’ approach to information seeking; this is problematic as it can be challenging to teach someone else, such as student or colleague how to utilise this approach and can be time-consuming. Alternatively, this approach demonstrates persistence and adaptability with staff unperturbed by having to try various approaches to finding and using information to answer frontline enquiries; this is beneficial in a role that encounters unpredictability due to user interaction and is an example of self-taught information resilience.
Second quote – unstructured, reliance on Google.
Further research is recommended with a larger variety of HE paraprofessionals to develop and analyse the themes identified and explore individual IL knowledge, practice and progression. This could be used to inform the creation of an IL framework for FALPs to facilitate training and development.
Inspired by: Forster’s ‘7 themes of expanding awareness’ framework demonstrates how IL is experienced by nurses and created educational goals to develop workplace IL and evidence-based practice. Inskip & Donaldson ‘On the Move’ tool – demonstrates terminology used within the workplace and education to support transition from HE to insurance work.
Recommendations for managers:
Friendly environment - positive and pro-active communication both in person and virtually Based on own experiences at King’s – open plan spaces and using online chat services, such as Skype. Aids collaboration and information sharing.
Recommend developing a holistic understanding of the paraprofessional role, and utilising situated learning approaches to better support their information practice and professional development.
Constructivist – learning as an active process. Staff are constructing their own knowledge through participating in the work tasks and activities. Build in time for reflection.
Authentic tasks should be created or replicated to simulate those experienced by staff in their day-to-day work and embedded in regular training. This would address knowledge retention for complex enquiries e.g. literature searches.
Constructivist learning theory which positions learning as an active process, in which the learner builds on prior knowledge and stimulates collaboration between the learner and facilitator alongside reflective thinking (Cooperstein & Kocevar-Weidinger, 2004).
IL is an essential attribute and way of operating within the world in which individuals are enabled to identify information needs, critically find and use information, ethically apply and create knowledge, which facilitates their ability to engage with society and achieve their life goals
Questions for the audience – interaction. E.g. What is your experience of paraprofessional staff engagement with IL and their information practice?
By Barry Mangham [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], from Wikimedia Commons
Workplace information literacy on the front line - Royle
Workplace Information Literacy on the
frontline: an analysis of paraprofessional
staff information practice and professional
development in a UK academic library.
Lucy Royle, King’s College London
Why workplace IL?
• Frontline staff are at the coalface of IL education
• 60.1% of LIS staff working in Higher Education (HE) do
not have a Library, Archives, Records, Information and
Knowledge Management (LARKIM) qualification
• 42% do not have a postgraduate diploma or Master’s
degree (CILIP, 2016)
• Development of paraprofessionals is an under-
• Contribute an enhanced
understanding of the workplace
information literacies and
information practice of UK frontline
academic library paraprofessional
• Why is this important?
Paraprofessional frontline staff are the
first point of contact for many users; it
is vital that they develop their IL skills
and knowledge and can communicate
these effectively. Peanuts:
Research methodology & method
• Case study (Biggam, 2015;
• 5 semi-structured interviews
• Purposive sampling - maximal
• Braun & Clarke’s (2006; 2013)
• Open & descriptive coding
• Limitations included time,
power dynamic, bias
Key findings – Communities of Practice
‘I’d take particular notice of some
people that knew how to do a
particular thing extensively or well […]
It was more an observation of seeing
people in situ that I’d pick up on.’
‘I tend to learn by doing, because I
remember what mistakes I make.’
‘So it becomes often collaborative as
well…we have the sort of team here
where people are very comfortable
asking each other questions, so it
can be quite fun if you can’t work out
how to do something.’
Key findings – the role of trust in information-
• ‘I felt like I had quite a unique relationship with each individual, most
significantly within the local team. And I think that would be really built
from ongoing communication, but also the learning and observation of
people in their treatment of things in different contexts, in different
enquiries.’ Participant A
• ‘I would say peer-to-peer feedback is the most valuable though [in
relation to feedback from a manager], and it’s a no-blame culture as
well, which means that the way that you get feedback is constructive.’
Key findings – IL skills knowledge gap
‘I’ve found that if I’m using databases or
thinking about literature searching, I’ll just
do it on the job, as it were, and fiddle
around with something, and if I can’t work
out how to do something, I’ll Google it, or
ask someone! It’s a bit ad hoc really.’
‘I Google things quite a lot, I
have to admit that, and in
fact most people do. It is
quite embarrassing how
often I use Google.’
‘I’ll be like,
“we’ll ask Google
Create a framework of how IL is
experienced by FALP staff at different
levels, inspired by the ‘7 themes of
expanding awareness’ framework created
by Forster (2015) and ‘On the Move’ tool
created by Inskip & Donaldson (2018).
Recommendations – culture & building
Create a friendly environment to foster team
• Developing open-plan staff spaces to support
team communication and bonding.
• Use technology to bridge geographic gaps
• Role-modelling helpful and approachable
Recommendations – training &
• Embed training within a constructivist
framework tailored to individual preferences
• Provide active, authentic examples to
facilitate the development of embodied
• Develop a holistic understanding of the
Library Frontline Delivery
King’s College London
Telephone: 020 7848 4855
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