What is the role of a Life Sciences Liaison Librarian in the Google Age?


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A presentation I gave as part of the interview process for an academic library position.

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  • Good morning etc.In this presentation I will be giving my own perspective on how the role of a liaison librarian, and in particular an LSL, has changed in the Google Age. I’m going to talk about the Google Effect, Generation Y, and changes in information-seeking behaviour. But first of all, I’m going to take a little diversion to talk about…
  • Hoping for a laugh here…!Can I squeeze in a joke about asking the locals at MLA?
  • The tree octopus is a hoax but illustrates characteristics of modern search behaviour, the Google Effect – and thus elements of the Google Age.I’ll explain why shortly, but first want to talk a little bit more about what exactly these phenomena are… I’lll spend most of this presentation talking about why Life Sciences Liaison Librarians should care and what this means for the role.
  • …it appears they’re not so hot at Googling after all! Since about 2003 various studies have taken place looking at how “digital natives”, “generation Y” or the Google Generation (the generation which has grown up mostly or entirely since the birth of the WWW) search for and find information. In 2008…
  • The tree octopus study took place in 2007 and demonstrated that high schoolers who were led to find the site via Google searches showed little willingness or ability to critically assess the quality of the information, with 24/25 of the students completely believing that the site was genuine, and many refusing to believe they had been tricked even after an explanation.
  • Betsy Sparrow’s team at the University of Columbia in 2011 showed that… when faced with difficult questions…Easy and instant connection to information sources has changed how people think about information. Our relationship with information has changed. Although we often show poor search skills, and have a tendency to accept information uncritically, very many of us treat the Internet as our personal memory bank, exaggerating the desire for instant results when we search. More and more people are naturally tying their memories to Google and instant access – this means that These phenomena have been found in medicine and life sciences too…
  • Giustini 2005: Use of Google for diagnoses, and confidence in results retrievedTang 2006: Using Google for a diagnosis was only right 58% of the time in a BMJ published test
  • So it’s clear that things are changing! We have users, not just students or young people but people of all ages, including doctors, professors etc, whose information-seeking behaviour is changing because of Google and the Internet.
  • Collaboration – a desire and willingness to work with others and to establish relationships, for example between a liaison librarian and an academic department – in order to be able to Social Awareness – a proactive approach to understanding the specific needs of a department and trends in their discipline, and to customise services to be highly relevant to their needsComfort with technology – including an understanding of trends, how they are (or potentially could be applicable to) library services, how technology can be turned to our needsMobility – a willingness to get out of the library building to build relationship. By being embeddedIntellectual Curiosity – a constant need to learn new techniques, improve one’s skills. To research and publish to increase our knowledge of librarianship and to provide evidence-based new ways of working.
  • Collaboration including outreach.
  • FACILITATION OF DISCOVERY“Advise clients on discovering, accessing and using effectively the full range of library and information resources available to meet teaching, learning and research needs in a specific disciplinary area” COLLABORATION in the Google Age has to be proactive – a form of outreach. We have never just sat behind our desks and waited for people to come to us, but it is now even more important than ever. Why? Because people believe more and more that they know how to search, when very often they don’t. And as for comprehensive searches and use of subject headings etc. – definitely not.It is now more necessary than ever to pro-actively build relationships with our user community, demonstrate our value, and seize opportunities to work with the academic community as these become available. Networking and making sure that relevant faculty staff know who we are and find us approachable is essential. A form of networking.For example: sharing search expertise. In the Google age, and knowing what we do about information seeking behaviour, part of our role is to demonstrate our value through better, deeper, more vertical and comprehensive searches. Ensuring that colleagues know we are available to assist with systematic reviews etc.We know that users favour simple interfaces and resources which are easy to find, they don’t want to spend a lot of time finding and learning how to use resources. widest possible awareness and use = working for open access. Libguidesetc.Finally I think collaboration is about shared decision-making. I favour collaborative, user-led purchasing and collection development as much as possible (talk about when I did this in a public library setting). This is particularly relevant with shrinking budgets – where libraries are moving from “just in case” purchasing to “just in time” – further emphasising the role of the liaision librarian but also providing an opportunity for relationship building. MENTION SPORTS COACHING COLLECTION AT UNI OF HERTFORDSHIRE.
  • Promotion of resources really matters. As already said, users don’t want complicated search interfaces or to spend hours finding out how to use a site, they want information NOW and easy to find. Various methods I have used include adding QR codes to the posters we use to advertise our training programmes (and I advocate McGill doing the same, I’d be happy to help!), we’re also currently developing a way of evaluating this as part of the design of our new website through perhaps direction to a separate page.
  • Understanding the precise needs of a specific set of users, or often of one user, when planning the provision of a service to them. So this is about customised services, and being aware of the precise needs of specific users so we can match the services we deliver. Researchers have become impatient and want quick answers, this is an opportunity for us.
  • “Develop and maintain communication links and appropriate liaison with designated academic departments and/or university centres to ensure library and information needs are understood and met.”Social awareness is about customization to our user’s needs. It means going out, finding out the specific needs of our user community/academic department, keeping up to date with trends in their area, and ensuring that services are provided which meet those needs. It is another way of proactively demonstrating the value and relevance of the library.I’ll briefly talk about 1 and 2, but am going to leave 3 until later as I found that while it fits here, it also fits in another characteristic.
  • The CIBER report showed that wanting instant information etc. wasn’t just a characteristic of teenagers or the Google Generation, it in fact is seen in all generations. Including medical professionals.The examples are from a separate presentation I developed to train pharmacists in certain relevant aspects of PubMed.Another example is the Andrea Laiznergroup or nurse researchers. Talk about this a little (in particular asking for their own research interests two weeks beforehand, working with lib colleagues to develop search strategies for them, and then integrating these into the workshop (delivered in room 409 incidentally).Particularly relevant at the LSL are the needs of medical students and residents. We know they have very little time, but very significant needs for precise information and information literacy. Ways this could be fit in include development of online training (maybe through Campus Moodle or another system), working with course leaders to integrate elements of into literacy into course curricula, and being willing to develop entirely new workshops as required. I have started a Zotero workshop for example.Another thing we are doing as part of the new website is to ensure that the training calendar is prominent on EVERY page so that visitors can’t miss what we have to offer.
  • In addition to training, we also need to customise how we present resources to user groups, not just in response to their discipline, but in response to current trends in their discipline. This example is a guide for nurses on how to find CE resources – (talk about OIIQ and their new CE requirements plus our responses – also mention journal clubs).The dentistry resource guide is an other example. Collaboration and Social Awareness are intimately connection qualities, difference in emphasis.
  • Second bullet point – mention my MSc in passingWhat about digitisation of specialist collections held in the library?
  • Mention how I helped with med students at my special library roleface-to-face reference Ismael, Reference Services Review, Vol. 38 No. 1, 2010, pp. 10-27
  • The explosive growth in use of mobile devices and in particular smart phones has to drive new services as users demand library services which are easily accessible from these devices.
  • Collaborating with other libs: MUHC is obvious – Working with other institutions on joint research, improve open source software (e.g.koha) etc.
  • Being a core part of the team.WORKING WITH SCHOLARS: to provide access to their data sets, project notes, papers, etc. in virtual research environments and digital repositories;COLLABORATING WITH IS EXPERTS: to develop online tutorials and user friendly interfaces to local digital collections; I have an strong interest in OS software and would love to be involved in building a collection using the Evergreen interface for example. I know koha (and mention the Butler Library in the UK)COLLABORATING WITH STUDENT SUPPORT SERVICES: to provide integrated TAILORED services to studentsCOLLABORATING WITH LIBRARIANS at other institutions: on joint research projects, either with other universities or with librarians in hospital settings where we can provide an academic angle to joint research (so cohort multi centre studies), other possibilities to improve open source software. Montreal is the perfect place to conduct studies into multilingual access to resources for example (and multilingual folksonomies etc.), bilingual digital archives and the best way to index them and I’d certainly be interested in involvement in that.
  • This is my favourite one, because it underpins the rest for me. With intellectual curiosity come vigour and excitement for the role, a need to research (rather than just a duty), and a natural ability to work in new ways and to collaborate.
  • I’m fascinated by Diffusion of Innovations theory, which looks at how new ideas spread through social systems (such as a profession). I’ve already conducted a DI study based in public libraries, I’d love to conduct one or more based in academic libraries, say on mobile access to resources (a currently spreading innovation). I feel DI theory isn’t used enough in library research and we’re missing out. Pretty pic is a page from my MSc.Another project which I’d be very keen to be involved in, perhaps through a multi centre study but certainly in collaboration, would be to measure the effectiveness of library instruction.
  • In the Google age people’s attitudes towards information have changed, they want everything NOW. They think they can search but they can’t. “Everything is online” - NOT(1) …and a shared approach to collection development. My approach is proactive, I go to meet them and build relationships, I’m not afraid to show what I have to offer and I will innovative ways to promote library services(2) …I love training and see the importance of it especially in the Google Age. I have already developed custom training in use with my current employer, and will do the same if I work here. This all has to be tailored to their needs though, which means relationship building. Customised access too.(3) Comfort with online reference. Building and improving tools. Using new tools.(4) (5) Research, networking (off to MLA), find new ways of working. Having broad personal information networks to get ideas from (DI heterophily)(6) …and if you take away nothing else from my little talk… 
  • What is the role of a Life Sciences Liaison Librarian in the Google Age?

    1. 1. Martin MorrisWhat is the role of aLIFE SCIENCESLIAISON LIBRARIANin the Age? McGill Job Talk – 27 April 2012
    2. 2. Introducing… the PacificNorthwest Tree Octopus• Moves by “tentaculation”• Sensitive suckers steal bird eggs• Eye-sight comparable to humans zaptopi.net/treeoctopus/
    3. 3. A useful fake• It is also, of course, also a hoax• Helps explain aspects of the Google Effect and the Google Generation.• Why should Life Sciences Liaison Librarians care?
    4. 4. The Google Generation…In 2008 a major study wasconducted by UniversityCollege London, TarbiatMoallam University,Tehran, and the Universityof Tennessee, attemptingto predict future trends ininformation seekingbehaviour, and to examineprevailing receivedwisdom.They found…
    5. 5. …not so hot at Googling after all• Rely very heavily on search engines• Tendency to view rather than read• Display “horizontal” search strategies, skipping and bouncing, and stopping searching the moment they find an answer• Display a tendency for natural language search strings and difficulty in selecting search terms• Do not possess the critical and analytical skills to assess the information they find on the web
    6. 6. …and the Google Effect?“…when faced withdifficult questions,people are primed tothink about computers[…] and when peopleexpect to have futureaccess to information,they have lower rates ofrecall of the informationitself and enhancedrecall instead for whereto access it.” Sparrow, B., et al. (2011). Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at our Fingertips. Science Express.
    7. 7. How does this apply to LIFE SCIENCES?• What do they say? – Giustini (BMJ, Dec 2005) “I entered the salient features into Google, and [the diagnosis] popped right up.” The attending doctor was taken aback by the Google diagnosis. “Are we physicians no longer needed? Is an observer who can accurately select the findings to be entered in a Google search all we need for a diagnosis to appear—as if by magic?” – Hider 2009 (JMLA, Jan 2009) Of a sample of health professionals asked which resources they used at least once a month, Google (62.9%) far more popular than UpToDate (16.7%), PubMed (41.9%) or Clinical Evidence (31.4%) – Tang (BMJ, Dec 2006) We identified 26 cases from the case records. Google searches found the correct diagnosis in 15 […] cases
    8. 8. Five characteristics of a good life sciences liaison librarian• In the Google Age – As perceptions of libraries, and of personal search abilities change, It is more important than ever for us to demonstrate our value – “Everyone can search” is commonly believed, but wrong. Changes in information-seeking behaviour make it vital to emphasise quality information. – Thinking about the role of a life sciences liaison librarian led me to divide the role into five desirable characteristics, and to look at each one within the context of the Google Age.
    9. 9. Five necessary characteristicsCollaboration Social Comfort with Mobility Intellectual Awareness technology Curiosity
    10. 10. COLLABORATIONA desire to work with others
    11. 11. …in the age…HOW DO LIFE SCIENCES LIAISON LIBRARIANSDEMONSTRATE COLLABORATION?sharing search expertisepromoting the widest possibleawareness and use of resourcesbuilding links with user communitiese.g. shared collection development
    12. 12. RESOURCE PROMOTION• QR codes on posters link back to the library’s site• Libguides for academic resources• Mobile app guides• Future need for greater training, suggest customised by department with search examples• Research into use.
    13. 13. SOCIAL AWARENESSUnderstanding the needs of our users
    14. 14. …in the age…HOW DO LIFE SCIENCES LIAISON LIBRARIANSDEMONSTRATE SOCIAL AWARENESS?Developing tailored trainingProviding and promotingcustomized access to resourcesby being an embedded librarian
    15. 15. TAILOREDTRAININGBecause students andresearchers expect tobe able to findinformation instantly, ifwe are to demonstratehow to search better,we also need tocustomize our trainingto their specific needs.
    16. 16. NURSES’ CONTINUINGEDUCATIONAt the MUHC, we have beenworking with nurseeducators to ensure thatnurses know how the librarycan help with theirContinuing Educationrequirements.• Dedicated website• Journal Clubs
    17. 17. COMFORT WITH TECHNOLOGYAware of different ways of delivering information
    18. 18. …in the age…HOW DO LIFE SCIENCES LIAISONLIBRARIANS DEMONSTRATECOMFORT WITH TECHNOLOGY?offering on-line referenceusing social networking topromote and teach library servicesby engaging with our users in newways, such as through mobile access
    19. 19. INTERNET REFERENCE• Using QuestionPoint Question: Chat Transcript: Im a medical resident looking for articles on the psychological side effects of using Champix. Martin Morris: Note: Patrons screen name: software to Phil Martin Morris: Hello, I can certainly help you with that. Is this for an assignment? Have you respond to already looked in any databases yourself? Joe Thompson: Ive looked in Medline but didnt come up with much Martin Morris: OK. Im going to take a look student myself. How far back would you like to go - last 5 years? Martin Morris: …and did you use MeSH enquiries Question: [1664095] I’m a medical resident looking for articles on the psychological side effects of using Champix. headings or keywords? Patron: Joe Thompson (joe@connect.org)• An alternative Patron’s Library: Heartland University Library Queue: UK Reference Collective IP Address: to face-to-face, not a replacement
    20. 20. The future is mobile• Excellent mobile health apps site from McGill Life Sciences Library• We’re currently planning 3 “brown bag” lunchtime sessions at MUHC to introduce this – with very strong interest.• Possible developments: Research into use of point of care tools at an MUHC site?• Frequent questions about VPN/EZ Proxy access – can this be built in?• Would a stand-alone app be a practical or useful possibility?
    21. 21. MOBILITYWillingness to work outside thewalls of the library building
    22. 22. …in the age…HOW DO LIFE SCIENCES LIAISON LIBRARIANSDEMONSTRATE MOBILITY?Being an embedded librarianGoing to our users, not waiting forthem to come to usWorking with librarian colleaguesat, for example, the MUHC
    23. 23. The Embedded Librarian• Working with scholars• Collaborating – with IS experts – with student support service – with librarians at other institutions
    24. 24. INTELLECTUAL CURIOSITYAlways finding new ways to share information
    25. 25. …in the age…HOW DO LIFE SCIENCES LIAISON LIBRARIANSDEMONSTRATE INTELLECTUAL CURIOSITY?publishing original researchdemonstrating a willingness tonetwork and learn from peersidentifying new ways of working
    26. 26. A personal view of possible future research directions• Examine willingness of liaison and other academic librarians to adopt social networking for reference through Diffusion of Innovations Theory• How effective is library training – under what circumstances is it better to teach, or to instead promote that “the librarian can do it better”
    27. 27. Summary• Skills sharing, promoting resources• Tailored training, customised access• Tech: understanding trends, working with them, constantly improving• Getting embedded• Being intellectually curious• There’s no such thing as a tree octopus
    28. 28. Neil Gaiman puts it well, as always
    29. 29. CitationsGiustini, D., (2005). How Google is Changing Medicine. BMJ. 331, 1487-8Hider, P.N., et al. (2009). The information-seeking behaviour of clinical staff in a large health care organization. JMLA. 97(1), 47-51Rowlands, I., et al. (2008). The Google generation: the information behaviour of the researcher of the future. Aslib Proceedings: New Information Perspectives. 60(4), 290-310Sparrow, B., et al. (2011). Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at our Fingertips. Science Express. Published online 14 July, 2011. Retrieved fromhttp://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2011/07/13/science.1207745.fu ll.pdfTang, H. & Ng, J.H.K., (2006) . Googling for a diagnosis—use of Google as a diagnostic aid: internet based study. BMJ. 333, 1143-1145
    30. 30. ANY QUESTIONS?