Are Librarians Really Teachers? Reflections and Analysis


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  • - target 15 different classes: first, third and 4th years - 2 graduate classes
  • - common sense fo the term - systematic - teacher - especially in a school
  • -  service or teaching oriented (examine accountabilities)?  -questionnaire and interview, random sample , 362 respondents, 20 interviews - 31.6% exchange with librarians as a learning experience  - our study asks what does teaching mean (open ended)
  • surveyed 48 undergraduate students explored reasons why librarians choose the profession, educational qualifications, etc   9 of 45 respondents referred to a teaching or training function of librarians like Hernan and pastine, explored many issues we focus on one!
  • - to contribute to the literature on student perceptions of librarians and libraries - hernon and fagan - what do students think of us??? - what does it mean to teach? librarian job postings state that we must teach, need some instruction experience, we are evaluated e.g. faculty status and tenure  - reflecting in light of decades of discussion about the teaching role of librarians and now librarians teaching info lit
  • YES! 1. help - helpful with, succeed 2. knowledgeable 3. subject - how to, library, research 4. educational institution 5. comparison with teachers and similar to or more than NO! 1. just/only.... shelve books, deal with books, book keepers 2. lack of qualifications - phd (but profs don't) 3. classroom, formalized education - grade, longer term 4. do not teach a subject - generalists
  • - race, ethnicity, gender, age, academic discipline, library use - librarian v. student, we were recognizable - administered after class as too biased ? maybe at ref desk, but less response - not representative , administered during the day, not evening - gave a quick incentive , not sincere response - but always a risk - electronic survey vs. paper survey and being more honest and legibility - not a survey. Surveys are tested for validity . Our study was exploratory.
  • Are Librarians Really Teachers? Reflections and Analysis

    1. 1. Are Librarians Really Teachers? Reflections and Analysis Karen Okamoto City University of New York John Jay College [email_address]    Mark Aaron Polger City University of New York College of Staten Island [email_address]  
    2. 2.   <ul><ul><li>23 institutions across New York City </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>approximately 245, 000 students </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>founded in 1847 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>largest urban public university in the United States  </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>includes senior colleges and community colleges in all 5 boroughs in many disciplines: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>law </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>medicine </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>education </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>social sciences and humanities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>pure and applied sciences </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>health sciences   </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><ul><li>Senior college specializing in nursing, education, and business </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>13,000 students on 204 acre campus </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>235,000 books / 5,000 e-books </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>800 print journals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>26,000 electronic journals </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Over 140 databases </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>15 full time library faculty/ 10 part time library faculty </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. John Jay College <ul><ul><li>senior college </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>14, 000 students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>criminal justice focus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>14 full-time librarians, 9 part-time librarians </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>more than 300,000 books, periodicals, and microforms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>over 100 databases </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>over 36,000 electronic journals  </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Definition of teaching <ul><li>Teach: show, present, direct, guide, &quot;show by way of information or instruction&quot; (common), enable, instruct, &quot;give systematic information&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher: teaches, instructs, an instructor, tutor,shows or points out, &quot;function is to give instruction, esp. in a school&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Oxford English Dictionary , The Oxford American Dictionary of Current English </li></ul>
    6. 6. Our definition of teaching <ul><li>Our most broad and inclusive definition: </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Anyone who uses various methods and strategies to share knowledge with another person. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
    7. 7. Literature review <ul><li>Hernon, P. & Pastine, M. (1977). Student perceptions of academic librarians. College and research libraries , 38 , 129-139. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>  service or teaching oriented (examine accountabilities)? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>  362 respondents, 20 interviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>31.6% - learning experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>  future studies should explore student definitions of teaching </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
    8. 8. Literature review <ul><li>Fagan, J. (2003). Students' perceptions of academic librarians. The reference librarian, 37 (78), 131-148. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>surveyed 48 undergraduate students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>explored reasons why librarians choose the profession, educational qualifications, etc </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
    9. 9. Literature Review <ul><li>Wilson, P (1979). Librarians as Teachers: The Study of an Organization Fiction. The Library Quarterly , 49(2), 146-162    </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wilson argues that librarians' professional identity represents an organization fiction.  </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Librarians identify as &quot;teachers&quot; to help explain their job functions and to foster a more comforting self-image. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>So much diversity in librarianship, it's difficult to describe our profession to the public. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wilson argues that many academic librarians are obsessed with faculty status, thus they identify as teachers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wilson claims librarians do not teach. They &quot;inform&quot; and &quot;react&quot; , but they do not have subject expertise </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
    10. 10. Literature Review <ul><li>Budd, J (1982). Librarians are Teachers . Library Journal , 107(18), 1944-1946 </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Budd argues that librarians teach at the reference desk </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Library profession is built on the provision of disseminating knowledge back to the user </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Librarians teach during the reference interview at the reference desk </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Budd argues that librarians have subject expertise and jargon </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Librarians need to learn how to communicate knowledge to the user like classroom teachers </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Description of our study <ul><ul><li>Distributed a questionnaire to both JJ and CSI Students. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Distributed in library classrooms, in the cafteria, campus centre, and library cafe </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Comprised of 6 questions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Used convenience and snowball sampling </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Garnered 500 responses. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>  Incentive was chocolate and free pens and pencils </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
    12. 12. Questionnaire <ul><li>Questions included: </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Age of consent (18) ? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Year of study ? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Campus location ?  </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are librarians &quot;teachers&quot;? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If &quot;not&quot;, then what other words describe us? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Have they ever visited the library in person or via web site? </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Why this study? <ul><ul><li>To reflect on our own teaching and its effects on students </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To further contribute to the literature of librarians' professional identity </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To further explore students' perception of our teaching role  </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To reflect what it means to be a teacher </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Findings: Are Librarians Teachers? both JJ and CSI, entire sample
    15. 15. Findings: Are Librarians Teachers? Classroom Data, both JJ and CSI
    16. 16. Findings: Data Outside The Classroom
    17. 17. Findings: Level of Study (both colleges)
    18. 18. Librarian Descriptors
    19. 19. Themes That Emerged From the Question: &quot;Are Librarians Teachers?&quot; <ul><li>Yes </li></ul><ul><li>1. helpful </li></ul><ul><li>2. knowledgeable </li></ul><ul><li>3. subject expertise </li></ul><ul><li>4. educational role </li></ul><ul><li>5. librarians and teachers are equated </li></ul><ul><li>No </li></ul><ul><li>1. just librarians, nothing else... </li></ul><ul><li>2. they have a lack of qualifications </li></ul><ul><li>3. not in a classroom </li></ul><ul><li>4. do not teach a subject </li></ul><ul><li>5. not helpful </li></ul>
    20. 20. Moving forward... <ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Student perceptions are based on stereotypes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Further need to market the library and librarian roles </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Providing more library instruction may change student perceptions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Further investigate other factors such as age, race, gender, academic discipline, and ethnicity. </li></ul></ul>
    21. 21. Limitations <ul><ul><li>not enough demographic info, academic discipline, library use </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>librarians administered questionnaire </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>administered after each class </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not a representative sample </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>incentive (i.e. chocolate and pens) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>electronic  vs. paper survey </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not a survey </li></ul></ul>
    22. 22. Reflections, comments and questions <ul><ul><li>review handouts with select comments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>reflections on our identity as teachers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>questions? </li></ul></ul>
    23. 23. Select student comments <ul><li>Yes </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;...librarians not only have to be knowledgeable about subjects, but have to be able to explain and show students how to search and understand library material.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;... the librarian is a teacher of method and basis... we learn how to access important information..&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;....what makes someone a teacher anyway?&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>No </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;I don't think they know a particular subject well [...] but they can help or guide you in the right direction...&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;I see them as someone to help me find books.&quot; </li></ul>
    24. 24. <ul><li>Questions/ Comments? </li></ul>