This study aims to understand how users within a library consortium perceive chat service provided by staff members who are unaffiliated with the user’s home library. The researchers examined 293 chat interactions from Ask a Librarian, a consortial virtual reference service provided to university libraries across Ontario, Canada. Chi-square tests of independence were performed to explore the relationship between user dissatisfaction and instances where the chat operator revealed a mismatch in institutional affiliation between the operator and the user. Moderating variables in the relationship were investigated, including user type, question type, and operator behaviors like transferring the chat, making a referral, revealing a lack of expertise, and saying no to the patron. The researchers found that when an operator revealed that they work at a different institution than the user, patrons are more likely to be dissatisfied if they are graduate students, if their question is research-related, if the operator does not offer to transfer the chat, and if the operator does not state that they lack expertise on the chat topic. These findings suggest that chat operators should be mindful of context and relationships when revealing information about their affiliation. Users may perceive operators from other institutions as lacking knowledge about their local library, or they may be confused or alienated when receiving “behind the scenes” information about staffing that they perceive as unnecessary. The researchers recommend emphasizing and strengthening the user’s relationship with their home library and local library staff.
Issues in for-profit scholarly publishing are not new. We are an electronic resources librarian and a systems librarian, and in the course of our research on unaffiliated users and academic libraries, we continued to identify and be stymied by trends in vendor technologies, systems, sales models, and products that caused concern. We hope to share these concerns, summarize the landscape, and also provide some advice on possibilities for collective action as we move forward.
This paper explores the design and initial implementation of online training modules for Universal Design for Learning in the context of academic libraries. Academic libraries are shifting away from the provision of resources and toward actively providing instruction and engaging with learners. The COVID-19 pandemic saw a quick transition from many in-person resources to virtual resources. Ensuring librarians are equipped to support learners in this manner is crucial. The goal of this paper was to determine how best to assist academic librarians with developing effective online resources. To achieve this goal, we conducted interviews with academic librarians. After consulting the literature and collecting information from academic librarians, we identified four key concepts for providing valuable instruction and designing material. The four themes included making content accessible, usable, meaningful, and reliable. We then developed four online training modules using Articulate Rise. The modules provide a foundation for aiding academic librarians with their teaching practice and engaging with a broad range of learners. These modules quickly demonstrated their value in the library context, and future testing, assessing, and iterating will enable their continuous improvement via institutional and cross-institutional collaboration.
This personal reflective piece explores precarity in academic libraries from the perspective of someone who has been a precariously employed librarian, but has shifted to more stable employment. The detrimental aspects of precarious work are explored, both in relation to individuals and in relation to the institutions that hire precariously. There is discussion of the lack of attention paid to this critical topic, and a call for those with secure positions to turn their attention towards the problem of precarity in libraries.
This paper reports on a survey of faculty members at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) in Los Angeles, California, regarding their attitudes about libraries’ and librarians’ roles in the area of fake news. This study is a continuation of a previous paper that reviewed the origins of fake news and faculty perceptions of the concept. The survey results suggest that faculty members have differing views of how libraries and librarians can help them address fake news. Across disciplines, ages, and genders, faculty members’ views show little belief in the use of the library or librarians to help combat fake news. Notably, only lecturers seem to have a strong view of libraries and librarians playing helpful roles in dealing with the fake news phenomenon. These findings may have future implications for librarians who attempt to address fake news with either their faculty or their students. It may be necessary to develop broader outreach and awareness programs to change traditional conceptions of academic librarians and library services, which are often conflated.
Historically libraries have struggled to communicate their value in ways meaningful to both policy-makers and the general public. Traditional measures like collection and circulation counts, while useful, fail to capture libraries’ full impact on the lives of their users. The recent dominance of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as the prevailing metric for policy and decision-making frames library value in exclusively economic terms. However, it is overreliance on economic measures like GDP in library assessment that leads to their undue underfunding. Meanwhile a tool like the Canadian Index of Wellbeing (CIW) is a credible alternative metric that shifts the focus from the purely economic toward additional facets of life. Developed through a broad cross-Canada consultation process, the CIW uses eight domains affecting wellbeing: community vitality, democratic engagement, education, environment, healthy populations, leisure and culture, living standards, and time use. Compared with the narrow economic focus of GDP, the CIW is a powerful tool to communicate the true value of public libraries and the impact they have on their users.
The purpose of this paper is simultaneously to investigate researcher use and awareness of author addenda (e.g., the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition [SPARC] author addendum) and publisher awareness and acceptance of the same. Researchers at U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities institutions were targeted, and a survey was sent to faculty, graduate, and postdoctoral associations to share with their members. Following a low response rate, the survey was sent to a listserv of copyright librarians in Canada with a message that encouraged them to share it with researchers at their institutions. Eighty-one researchers responded to the survey. Eighty-six percent of researchers (n = 70) indicated that they were unaware of author addenda. Researchers were asked to identify how often they negotiate their publishing agreements, and of those who answered the question, 84.2% (n = 64) responded that they never negotiate. Thirteen publishers or publishing organizations were contacted and asked if they would participate in phone interviews about copyright practices and author addenda. Two large multinational publishers agreed to participate. Both publishers indicated that very few authors attempt to negotiate their agreements and that of those who choose to negotiate, even fewer use addenda. Both indicated that they do not accept the SPARC author addendum. This study’s small sample sizes mean that more information needs to be collected before firm conclusions can be drawn. Based on the responses from the two large publishers, the best way to help Tri-Agency-funded researchers may be for libraries and the Tri-Agency to negotiate with publishers for funder-based exceptions.
In many disciplines, most conference presentations end when the conference does; they do not go on to become peer-reviewed articles. Yet there is also research to suggest that continuing to work with a conference paper to turn it into an article leads to higher research productivity overall, with additional benefits of increasing a researcher's confidence, motivation, and capacity for further research (Lee & Boud, 2003).
This article was itself once a conference presentation or, more precisely, a workshop entitled “Transforming Your Conference Paper into a Journal Article” developed for University of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Library Association member librarians, and presented to researchers and writers from diverse disciplines. At those presentations attendees asked whether I would be turning this presentation into an article – a very meta question that did indeed seem like a logical next step! Synthesizing multidisciplinary scholarship on academic writing, resources from academic writing coaches, and case studies, this piece is intended to be a DIY workshop focusing on concrete strategies for addressing major barriers in the conference paper-to-article editing process.
Managerialism is an ideology that presents management as the center of organizations, shifting power and agency away from workers. This ideology allows more control and power to reside at the top of an organization, rather than allowing shared power in decision-making and everyday work. This structure can create inequitable and oppressive work environments that devalue the agency and intelligence of library staff and librarians. Managerialism, while considered an ideology on its own, has been building stronger roots in academic library practices due to influence from neoliberalism in the university environment. While managers can help with achieving organizational goals, it is important to critically examine library management practices to ensure that managers address instances of exclusion and inequity that may arise in these practices. This article introduces managerialism by providing a brief history of management and its expansion. It also identifies academic library practices that have been and continue to be susceptible to managerialist influences, such as consumer surveys, the demand for managers, strategic planning, leadership institutes, and merit pay. The article also provides some suggestions for addressing managerialism in the profession to ensure equity and inclusion are prioritized in library work. This includes practicing critical reflection, embedding critical perspectives in LIS education and training, and introducing critical perspectives on leadership.
In Fall 2020, while working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we initiated a Community of Practice (CoP) model for library school interns working on a video tutorials accessibility project for Dalhousie University Libraries. This feature outlines the background of the project, our approach to training interns remotely on Camtasia software, the development of the CoP, and our key takeaways as supervisors. While the CoP was originally intended as a source of support for the group of interns, the experience ended up being incredibly beneficial to us in our development as supervisors as we learned to mentor at a distance. We reflect on how our mentorship styles changed throughout the project and explore future directions for continuing the project with a new cohort of library interns.
Institutional open access (OA) policies can act as a solid foundation on which to build university-wide support for open access. This is the first paper to reflect on the entire process of developing, implementing, and reviewing an institutional open access policy at a Canadian post-secondary institution. Simon Fraser University (SFU) is one of a few Canadian universities with an institutional open access policy. As a leader in open access, SFU is well positioned to share observations of our experiences in the first three years of our OA policy. Throughout this paper, we reflect on the role that the policy plays in the broader culture of openness at SFU and on the OA resources and supports provided to SFU researchers. Other institutions may find our observations and adoption of the SOAR (strengths, opportunities, aspirations, results) appreciative inquiry framework useful as they explore future policy development or review and work to promote a culture of open access within their university community.
This paper explores the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of three individuals, all of whom are early-career professionals: Julia, a term librarian for an academic library who began her role as the pandemic was causing widespread change; Christine, a recent graduate who started her job search during the pandemic; and Kevin, a current Master of Library and Information Science student who started and completed his co-op in an entirely remote setting. This paper explores their perspectives on job precarity in a remote work environment and provides reflections on working in a library setting during the pandemic. To bring together the key themes experienced throughout this period, several recommendations are offered to managers and early-career librarians as they navigate this new landscape. For employers, advertising new employees, organizing their onboarding, and ensuring concerted efforts for introductions are recommended. For new librarians, forming communities of practice and building relationships in the remote work environment to battle feelings of isolation and not belonging are recommended. The precarious roles most early-career librarians find themselves in is unlikely to improve during the pandemic. The perspectives and reflections shared in this paper are intended to provide a transparent view into the experiences of three early career librarians, what they have learned, and how they are maximizing their time in the remote work environment.
In late 2019, Thompson Rivers University embarked on a multi-phase website usability project beginning with a website user survey, to be followed shortly afterward by usability testing and interviews. While the survey was completed as planned, the COVID-19 pandemic closed the library and interrupted the usability testing phase. This interruption and the frantic website changes that followed led me to consider survey findings within the context of differing conceptual models of the library website as a whole. This study explores a number of conceptual models of the library website in further depth, considering evidence from both the existing literature and the user survey in addition to the researcher’s own experience making post-COVID website updates. Particular models that are examined include Website as Research Portal, Website as Extension or Representation of the physical library, and Website as Library Branch. Each of these conceptual models has different implications on priorities, structure, purpose, and resource allocation. Rather than considering the models of library employees superior or more advanced than those of students, I contend that an awareness of myriad ways to understand the website can best bridge the gap between library employees and other users. The study concludes that while there is no perfect model of the library website, considering and communicating our models may sharpen collegial decision-making structures and create greater unity of purpose within the library.
Before the pandemic, the University of Toronto was predominantly an in-person experience. The closure of physical libraries and shift to remote learning required library staff and users to adapt to new modes of supporting teaching, learning, and research. A survey was conducted about reference service delivery, staffing models, resources and tools, which asked the respondents to describe reference services at their libraries before and during the pandemic. The objectives of this survey were to capture the state of reference services at the University of Toronto Libraries (UTL), and to compare data about reference practices during the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods with the goal of identifying challenges and opportunities for the future of reference services at UTL. 70% of libraries surveyed used reference desks for reference services pre-pandemic, and during the pandemic, 75% of libraries used virtual reference appointments by video conferencing. The survey results show that reference service staffing and service hours in most surveyed libraries were reduced during the pandemic. Many respondents reported that while they offered fewer reference service hours during the pandemic, they continued to provide assistance outside of scheduled hours. Online tools and platforms that were already familiar to librarians remained popular during the pandemic, allowing service providers to quickly adapt to the virtual environment and ensure seamless service continuity. While the rapid transition in services at the University of Toronto was not without its challenges, it has also offered many new opportunities for re-envisioning reference services at the University of Toronto Libraries.
In this paper I share my experiences, opinions and perspectives of running a school library during the COVID-19 pandemic. I discuss the difficulties and problems I have encountered, but also the opportunities for creativity that have presented themselves. From experiencing government cutbacks to layoffs and school closures, I discuss my feelings and frustrations about COVID-19 and how it prevented me from doing my job. I demonstrate how the pandemic heightened the feeling of isolation and loneliness in a job that can already make one feel disconnected; I highlight the importance and need for human connection. I also examine the new creative opportunities that working during a pandemic has given me, like asynchronous programming, collection development, professional development and a chance to experiment or renovate. This paper is meant to highlight the importance of school libraries and start a discussion of our role before and after the pandemic. Advocacy helps ensure that school libraries remain open. My goal is to give a glimpse of day-to-day library practice in a school library during the pandemic and share ideas and information with the library and information community. My views and opinions are my own, and the context will be different in every school.
As the world struggled to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers worked around the clock to understand what was going on, medically, socially, and economically. At the same time, usual research processes were disrupted: campuses were closed and normal government data collection and dissemination went haywire. Data professionals in academic libraries sprang into action to help. They shared resources, developed workshops, helped find alternative methods of carrying out research, and found ways of coping with the influx of COVID-related data. Social crises are fought on the front lines by medical professionals and service providers, but they are also fought with research, with information, with data. Libraries are at the nexus of information and communication and library professionals were able to play an important supporting role in helping researchers combat the effects of the pandemic.
As part of the University of Manitoba Libraries Outreach Services, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) Virtual Library provides library services to hospitals, health centres, community health agencies, and personal care homes throughout the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. All services of the WRHA Virtual Library, including the collection, are entirely virtual, though staff are physically located in the University’s health library. In March 2020, shortly after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, libraries around the world started closing their doors and staff were required to work from home. The virtual infrastructure of our services and collections required no changes in how our patrons accessed the Virtual Library and a smooth transition was expected, but the sudden shift to working from home revealed gaps. This article discusses the unique experience of the WRHA Virtual Library transitioning to a completely virtual environment, the previous reliance on the University’s physical infrastructure, and the inequities identified between librarians and library technicians.
Like many libraries across Canada, Manitoba public libraries have grappled with the challenges that COVID-19 has presented. Libraries have struggled to remain operational and offer a high level of service to patrons within the constraint of public health orders, all the while ensuring the safety and employment of their staff. Within the ever-changing environment of COVID-19, the Manitoba Library Association recognized the need to gather information from the library community in order to better position themselves to lend support and in an attempt to bridge information gaps. This article describes a study conducted by the Manitoba Library Association whereby fifty-five Manitoba public libraries were surveyed to identify how they were responding to COVID-19 and what their needs might be. The survey questions were divided into 6 sections (facilities, services, communications, staffing, connecting, wrap-up) and the results provide information and insight into how the Manitoba library community has dealt with the pandemic. More importantly, the results can serve to guide other libraries in decision-making and preparation for a pandemic.
This article presents a case study for transitioning library-led open-educational resources (OER) initiatives away from labor-intensive activities to a model where library personnel focus on project management responsibilities. This shift from labour-intensive activities, such as workshops and training sessions, led to more collaborative partnerships with faculty and students to produce OER projects. In particular, we focus on labour implications for the various stakeholders involved and the sustainability of these initiatives. We describe several initiatives undertaken by the Ohio University Libraries to encourage open educational resource adoptions and projects, including a grant-funded initiative to provide support services for faculty creating OER. That funding, which was awarded to enhance undergraduate education, has been used to support the development of five OER projects that have directly involved students in the creation of those materials. We provide an overview of the various ways in which students have become involved in OER creation in partnership with faculty and librarians and discuss the impact these partnerships have had on student-faculty-librarian relationships and student engagement. Among these projects are an Hispanic linguistics open textbook created using only student-authored texts, student-generated test banks to accompany existing OER materials for a large-enrollment art history course, and several other projects in which hired student assistants are helping faculty to develop content for open textbooks. This article helps to address a gap in the literature by providing transparency regarding the personnel, costs, and workflow for Ohio University Libraries’ OER initiatives and addressing potential areas of concern surrounding student labour.
Over the past few decades, partnerships and programming between secondary school and post-secondary librarians and libraries have been widely discussed in library literature. These collaborations often exist to help high school students develop information literacy (IL) skills and to provide a smoother transition to university-level research. This paper examines the current high school outreach activities at Ontario university libraries that aim to bridge the gap between high school and post-secondary education.
The purpose of this research, conducted through online surveys and interviews with academic librarians in the province, is to provide a snapshot of high school outreach activities and to highlight the benefits and challenges of such programming. It also examines why some libraries no longer offer such activities or programs. This analysis of the variety of outreach activities aims to generate discussion and ideas that academic libraries can use to connect with high school libraries.
The first COVID-19 lockdown influenced the way the Bibliothèque des lettres et sciences humaines (the arts and humanities library) at the Université de Montréal fulfilled its mission of offering information literacy instruction. It pushed us to adapt quickly by evaluating our old ways of doing things. The most striking result was the creation of a daily offering of morning webinars open to all. We seized this opportunity to experiment and test innovations corresponding to our values of excellence, caring and openness. Their success has enabled us to transform our suite of open workshops by emphasizing advanced and more diversified concepts.
While a small number of studies have investigated salary negotiation in librarianship, none have focused on Canadian academic libraries. What are the motivations and barriers that impact employment-offer negotiation? When Canadian librarians negotiate, what subjects are discussed, and do they feel they were successful? This preliminary report is a descriptive summary on the results of a survey we conducted to explore the negotiation propensity and perceptions of Canadian academic librarians when presented with their most recent offer of employment. A better understanding of this topic may encourage negotiation conversations and empower librarians in future employment offer negotiations to improve salaries and working conditions.
This study seeks to extend the research on the emotional labour of public library workers. Because emotional labour is a relatively new concept in library and information science research, researchers and practitioners need to better understand the emotional labour experiences of front-line workers in public libraries. A qualitative survey was distributed electronically to library workers in one Canadian province. Participants described meaningful experiences connecting with customers, but also identified major challenges in performing customer service work. Results showed that the public facing display of regulated emotions that is ingrained in library customer service training often conflicts with inner emotions. The inability to reconcile opposing emotions and perceived limited administrative support affects individual enjoyment of work and their personal well-being. Participants report exhaustion and burnout as outcomes of emotional labour. Library organizations must acknowledge the emotional labour aspect of library customer service work and provide more extensive formalized support for staff who are in customer service roles. Equipping staff with stronger emotional labour strategies might also help to build resilience and increase job satisfaction.