First of all, Portland is AWESOME. Great food, drinks (read local beers) and Powell’s City of Books where I literally could have spent a week and never been bored – my to-read list doubled. I love ACRL as a conference – it is such a great break from ALAs where I am bogged down in committee/section work and where the sessions are so extensive that they are overwhelming. This conference is always full of people to get great ideas from and a high percentage of relevant sessions to attend.
I will try to summarize my ACRL in Portland by hitting the main takeaways I got. If anyone wants more information on any of these sessions I have copious notes. I do like to do themes and at this ACRL I really took away ideas around two themes:
- Listening to users
- Going beyond the library
Listening to Our Users
Mary Beth and I started our conference even before the conference started with a Wednesday pre-conference talk by IThaka S+R about their faculty survey of research practices. They do this survey of faculty across the world every three years and are about to launch their next one in fall 2015. But any institution that wants to do a local version of their faculty can do that (for a fee, of course) and get back their results and benchmarks against the national survey results. The survey consists of the Core National Questionnaire which includes questions on:
- Discovery and access
- Scholarly communications
- Research practices including data curation
- Student research skills
- Role of the library
Then schools can add additional optional modules – up to three
- Digital research activities
- Undergraduate instruction
- Graduate instruction
- Online learning and MOOCs
- Library space planning
- Library market research
- Servicing clinicians & health scientists
MB and I found this idea very appealing as it could provide us much needed data on what our faculty do in their research and how they use our resources. We and will be discussing with the Assessment committee.
Known item searching in Summon, Google, Google Scholar (contributed paper)
Known item searching is still a problem with discovery tools – so many unexpected results frustrate users who are just trying to find that one thing. This study used Summon search logs for a semester – 35% of the searches were for known items — looked at 278 searches that they then re-executed the searches in all three search tools – Summon, Google and Google Scholar.
- Google won over Google Scholar and Summon
- Summon had 76% relevant results while 24% were partially relevant or not relevant
- Worst performing searches in Summon
- Partial citation searching – title & author for example
- Only 6% used quotes but those who did returned relevant results
- Formatted citation searches were also bad where they just pasted a whole citation in the search box
- Need to teach them to be better searchers – explaining the why
- Stop complaining about lazy search habits – empathize and instruct
- Take away: The search logs in Summon can give excellent insights into how our users area actually using the service and can inform how we teach students to use it
How Students Really Search (Contributed paper)
This study recorded one hour research sessions of actual students (11) doing actual research for a paper. They used software to record what the students did. Here’s what they learned:
- Students have different definitions of the ‘one search’ box (discovery search box on library home page)
- Students don’t know what to do with keywords even when they have been taught
- Only using limits in the search results to do language and full-text limiting
- Don’t use quotes appropriately
- Don’t understand the link resolver ‘get it at….’ (ours is WFU Full Text Options) –They think they have to come into library.
- When something (a link resolver link, or a database link) breaks one time they think it breaks all the time. They give up.
- Would not pursue an article even if it sounds good – they don’t have time
- “Shocking secrets of the student researcher” – presentation to faculty – showed them the videos – that finally made the faculty understand that they need to teach this more
- changed text of the link “get it online or in print” – will see how that works
- Abstract without article they think of as bait and switch – have to explain how for faculty that is good information
- Take away: Students (and I suspect faculty, too) are busy and unforgiving – we need things to work right a high percentage of the time if we hope to keep them using our resources. Teaching them quick easy ways to be better searchers can help with that.
How Do Students Use Video in Higher Education
So this was actually a vendor presentation given by former ZSR librarian Elisabeth Leonard who is now head of market research for Sage/CQ Press. She has been traveling around the last year talking to students and faculty about how they use video in their teaching and their research in an effort to help Sage as they start to produce video-based products. She has written two white papers, one on student use of video and one on faculty use of video. This presentation was on the student side of things. I will link to it below but the big takeaways from her presentation were
- Students tend to use video in small chunks (3-10 minutes at a time)
- Students are often looking for videos that help them understand concepts in a better/different way.
- Students really appreciate engaging speakers and data visualizations.
- Students don’t necessarily think of the library as a source of video content unless the faculty point them to our resources.
Going Beyond the Library
Bill Badke Talk
One of the breakfast sessions I attended was to hear Bill Badke speak. Those who have been around Information literacy discussion know Bill’s name – he’s been around for a long time and is the author of Research Strategies – one of the primary textbooks on doing research, now in it’s 5th edition. His talk was full of great insights like “the web is anarchy being watched by a poorly-schooled sheepdog called the database” and “we need to make sure that students understand that expertise and experience mean something when looking at authority – loud voices are not necessarily accurate ones.” He talked a lot about how a new kind of dark age is coming – not because of the dearth of information but due to an overabundance of information and we don’t know what to do with it. He noted that the belief that technology will solve the information literacy gaps in students is unfounded. And he challenged us to work more with faculty to increase students’ research skills. We can up the game of librarians and of faculty – our major focus needs to be on working with students to develop them as researchers.
- Build more support relationships with faculty – alerts, citations, copyright
- Offer to do workshops with faculty on how they can help students do better research
- Make the library prominent with students in the CMS
- Talk to your faculty about what their goals are for student research. “what does an ideal student paper look like?”
- A professors good lies in their ‘expertise’ – working with wisdom through a problem
- Have to enable faculty to guide their own students – move info lit into the academy – right into the foundations of the institution
We’ve Only Just Begun: Determining the value of information literacy in the first year. This was a series of papers from groups that had all been a part of the Assessment in Action first cohort. They all looked at assessing info lit instruction in first-year programs. They papers were all of different scenarios so I’ll just list some of the big take-aways across them all.
- Librarians need to help train faculty to talk about information literacy with their students.
- If students are made aware that these skills are being taught – they attend to them
- Most IL learning happens in classes that had multiple meetings with the library but a one-shot is better than none at all – it is not necessary to be in every class meeting – there is a point after which you don’t necessarily get a better return on investment with librarian involvement
- Students doing research generally are looking for quotes to plug into already composed papers
- Students are uncertain about the best time to ask a librarian for help
- ILI models that are recursive show increase in student learning
- How can we assess and measure what we consider most valuable – lifelong learning, an informed citizenry, social responsibility?