Alchemical Thoughts

Presenter Notes: On balancing library services

Posted on: February 18, 2009

One of the candidates for the Assistant Director for Research and Instructional Services position gave a small presentation as part of the campus visit process. The candidate declined the job offer, and I will not go into why because it is the kind of conversation better had in a bar late at night after a few beers (preferably with the local politicos out of sight). Anyhow, I did like some of what he had to say, and I took down some notes. The topic was on balancing library services for undergraduate and graduate students. This is mostly going to be bullet points for me to recall what was presented. Comments in parenthesis are mine:

  • Undergraduates.
    • Difference between 1st year students and upper division. Skill sets and desires differ (this is something that very often is not discussed or considered in discussing services for undergraduates. And I don't recall seeing a lot of it in the literature either.)
    • Concentration on required courses. Ex. the ENG 101.
    • Attitude of "for the grade" and "give 'em what they want–not what they need."
  • Graduates:
    • Have advanced research needs.
    • Emphasis on projects and scholarship. Trying to emulate their faculty. More rigorous expectations and concern with publishing.
    • They place high demands on ILL and Document Delivery.
    • Grad students often have dual roles: as instructor and student.
    • "Give them what they need, not what they want."
  • Balancing the issues:
    • Alignment of library services with the [campus] academic plan. There has to be services' suitability to objectives and achievements of undergraduate programs.
    • Utilization of resources (referring to human, physical, and financial).
    • Appropriateness of program's structure (a curriculum for educational objectives).
    • Appropriateness of delivery mode and assessment practices.
  • Possible solutions:
    • Complete an assessment. Figure out what's going on. Where are the students going? This gives a grounding for program building. (I am glad he did speak on assessment. For one, assessment seems to be the big trend now, but it is an important tool. One thing we do need to be finding out here is where the students are going. Recently I took a walk to the new Student Center complex. I saw lots of soft seating and gathering areas, good for study groups, and I thought to myself, "here is our competition, and serious competition it is." Now if I could get some others to listen, but that is a separate deal).
    • Use the ACRL Best Practices for Information Literacy (this is kind of a given). 
    • Importance of the library liaison/subject specialist. This is where the advocates are. This is very important, but it is difficult at times to explain and support. There is a need to get faculty to see past their agendas (tell me about it).
    • Virtual reference and additional reference resources (we recently started providing virtual reference, with mixed results, but we may need to give it more time).
    • Additional staffing (we are in the middle of trying to remedy this. Results are mixed so far). 

Presentation took place on February 6.

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February 2009
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