A Review of:
Nichols Hess, A. (2020). Instructional experience and teaching identities: How academic librarians' years of experience in instruction impact their perceptions of themselves as educators. Communications in Information Literacy, 14(2), 153–180. https://doi.org/10.15760/comminfolit.2020.14.2.1
Objective – To examine how an academic librarian’s years of instructional experience impacts how they think of themselves as instructors.
Design – Survey questionnaire.
Setting – American academic library profession.
Subjects – 353 participants selected from 501 respondents.
Methods – A Qualtrics survey was sent via email to members of several American Library Association discussion lists. The author selected a subset of respondents for further analysis based on how they answered key questions on the survey. Selected participants were those who believed they had experienced perspective transformation around their teaching identities. The author used principal component analysis and confirmatory factor analysis to identify twelve transformative constructs across three sub-themes: relational, experiential, and professional inputs. The author then labelled each construct based on its respective component parts. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) tests were then conducted using SPSS.
Main Results – Statistically significant differences were found between experienced and inexperienced instructional librarians. Participants with more instructional experience tend to believe their teaching identities are influenced to a greater extent by these factors:
Participants with less instructional experience tend to believe their teaching identities are influenced to a greater extent by these factors:
Conclusion – Different types of professional development opportunities will appeal to different librarians based on their level of instructional experience. Less experienced librarian instructors may find mentoring and informal collegial relationships within the library to be beneficial. More experienced librarian instructors may prefer to seek out relationships with colleagues outside the library to further develop their teaching identities.
Objective – The heritage of ginans of the Nizari Ismaili community comprises hymn-like poems in various Indic dialects that were transmitted orally. Despite originating in the Indian subcontinent, the ginans continue to be cherished by the community in the Western diaspora. As part of a study at the University of Saskatchewan, an online survey of the Ismaili community was conducted in 2020 to gather sentiments toward the ginans in the Western diaspora. This article presents the results of the survey to explore the future of the ginans from the perspective of the English-speaking Ismaili community members.
Methods – An online survey was developed to solicit the needs of the global Ismaili community using convenience sampling. The survey attracted 515 participants from over 20 countries around the world. The English-speaking members of the Ismaili community between 18 to 44 years of age living in Western countries were designated as the target group for this study. The survey responses of the target group (n = 71) were then benchmarked against all other respondents categorized as the general group (n = 444).
Results – Overall, 85% of the respondents of the survey were from the diaspora and 15% were from the countries of South Asia including India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The survey found that 97% of the target group respondents preferred English materials for learning and understanding the ginans compared to 91% in the general group. Having access to online ginan materials was expressed as a dire need by respondents in the two groups. The survey also revealed that over 90% of the respondents preferred to access private and external ginan websites rather than the official community institutional websites. In addition, the survey validated the unified expectations of the community to see ginans become an educational and scholarly priority of its institutions.
Conclusion – Based on the survey results, it can be concluded that the respondents in the target group are educated citizens of English-speaking countries and regard the heritage of ginans to be an important part of their lives. They value the emotive and performative aspects of the tradition that help them express their devotion and solidarity to the Ismaili faith and community. They remain highly concerned about the future of the ginans and fear that the teachings of the ginans may be lost due to lack of attention and action by the community institutions. The development and dissemination of curriculum-based educational programs and resources for the ginans emerged as the most urgent and unmet expectation among the survey respondents. The article also identifies actions that the community institutions can take to ensure continued transmission and preservation of the ginans in the Western diaspora.
A Review of:
Leili, S., Maryam, H., & Mohsen, A. (2020). The effect of information literacy instruction on lifelong learning readiness. IFLA Journal, 46(3), 259-270. https://doi.org/10.1177/0340035220931879
Objective – To examine the efficacy of information literacy skills instruction on the lifelong learning readiness skills of Iranian public library users.
Design – Pre- and post-test experiment.
Setting – Two public libraries in Iran.
Subjects – Thirty (30) high school students who were active users of two Iranian public libraries.
Methods – Thirty (30) participants were randomized into two groups, one of which received information literacy training for seven weeks, while the other group acted as a control. Participants were assessed via three instruments in information literacy and readiness for lifelong learning prior to and at the completion of the training program. The workshops included basic library skills, recognizing needed information skills, information source skills, Internet skills, Internet searching skills, resource instruction, database skills, and general searching skills. Results of pre- and post-test assessments were analyzed with analysis of covariance (ANCOVA).
Main Results – The group that received information literacy instruction showed increased readiness for self-directed learning, readiness to overcome deterrents to participation, and improved information literacy. The control group did not show an increase in readiness to respond to triggers for learning or an overall increase in lifelong learning readiness.
Conclusion – Information literacy instruction can improve elements of lifelong learning readiness in regular library users. Public libraries in Iran should begin long-term planning to implement this training.
A Review of:
Galoozis, E. (2019). Affective aspects of instruction librarians’ decisions to adopt new teaching practices: Laying the groundwork for incremental change. College & Research Libraries, 80(7), 1036–1050. https://doi.org/10.5860/crl.80.7.1036
Objective – To investigate the correlation between emotional and affective labour and instruction librarians’ willingness to adopt and implement novel teaching and educational practices.
Design – Semi-structured interview, grounded theory.
Setting – Academic libraries in the Greater Western Library Alliance consortium.
Subjects – 12 information literacy librarians from the Greater Western Library Alliance consortium of 38 research libraries from the US.
Methods – In 2016, the author shared a call for study participants in the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) consortium, selected a convenience sample of 12 information literacy instruction (ILI) librarians, and conducted a structured interview over Adobe Connect, a virtual video-interviewing tool. Interview transcripts underwent initial thematic coding using a grounded theory approach. Additionally, the author used Walker and Symons’ theories of motivation to code interview responses related to emotional and affective labour.
Main Results – The author identified three thematic categories in the interview transcripts: barriers and influences for adopting new teaching practices, and practices implemented by ILI librarians. The author mapped these response themes to Walker and Symons’ (1997) conditions of human motivation: autonomy, competency, feedback, affirmation, and setting meaningful goals. Some major barriers to adopting new teaching practices are burnout and emotional exhaustion due to understaffing, time demands, the sheer quantity of instruction sessions, and the lack of post-instruction feedback to reinforce pedagogical decisions. A sense of competency, autonomy, and support when designing library instruction sessions encourages librarians to adopt new teaching practices. The author explored what practices ILI librarians applied to implement new teaching practices. Having plenty of time to prepare prior to an instruction session encourages ILI librarians to build new teaching practices into sessions. The respondents noted that building relationships with faculty, students, and library colleagues enables them to receive helpful feedback.
Conclusion – Though there is some correlation between affective and emotional labour and the motivation of ILI librarians to adopt and implement new teaching practices, the author notes that the results are not generalizable to a larger context based on the small sample size. It is clear there are many opportunities to investigate other factors that impact librarian motivation and emotional labour including the dynamics of race, gender identity, and disability, or the managerial and structural factors and workplace culture that impede or facilitate the adoption of new teaching practices.
Objective – This study aims to measure library users’ perceptions of the quality of information control using LibQual, a survey instrument that measures library users’ minimum perceived and desired levels of service quality across three dimensions: Effect of Service, Library as Place, and Information Control. Numerous studies using LibQual have emphasized the service aspect, while quality of information control has received less attention. Previous studies have reported low quality of information control in academic libraries.
Methods – A descriptive survey was conducted at the library of the Universitas Islam Negeri Sumatera Utara (UINSU), Medan, Indonesia, where active members of the library total 49,892. Using proportional random sampling, 100 completed surveys were obtained from a total population of 49,892.
Results – This study shows that the quality of information control in the library of UINSU Medan does not meet minimum user expectations. Nevertheless, ease of navigation of information was perceived as acceptable. The study also reveals that the library has promoted information services through exhibition activities, user education activities, and social media.
Conclusion – The findings suggest the need for libraries to improve the quality of information services, including content of information, access protocols, search time, ease of navigation, interface, and access from outside the campus. Further, libraries need to conduct continuous service quality evaluation on a regular basis (using tools such as LibQual) to understand the needs of users in terms of information control better. The results from the present study provide strong evidence to support a recommendation that, in general, universities should provide required resources and funding for libraries to improve information services to ensure that the libraries meet quality standards.
A Review of:
Steele, J.E. (2021). The role of the academic librarian in online courses: A case study. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 47(5), 102384. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2021.102384
Objective – To examine the role of academic librarians in online courses in a university setting.
Design – Survey questionnaire.
Setting – A multi-campus university in the southern United States.
Subjects – Students, faculty, and librarians who had taken, taught, or assisted in fully online courses.
Methods – Email addresses for potential survey participants were provided by the university office of institutional research. The researchers tailored survey questions weto specific subject groups. The surveys took roughly 15 minutes to complete and were open for 1 week following the original email. Surveys included 12 – 16 questions, depending on the version, and included questions relating to the use of librarians in online courses, the type of assistance they provided, and how assistance was provided (e.g., in person, email, live chat). Question types included yes/no, check-all-that-apply, and open-ended-answer.
Main Results – Of the student responders, 23.24% reported asking a librarian for help with research or an assignment. This help included finding resources (34.48%), database searching (28.57%), and searching the library catalog (20.69%). Help was given over email (28.03%), live chat (31.82%), and in person (17.42%), which was reported to be most helpful by several students. Only 10.61% reported using video-conferencing software such as Zoom.
Only 5.88% of faculty reported including a librarian for synchronous instruction in online courses, while 19.12% made use of asynchronous tutorials created by a librarian. The majority of respondents (93.1%) had not worked with an embedded librarian in their courses, and many reported not knowing that it was an option. Instead, faculty perceived librarians to be an outside resource.
Both faculty members and students reported a desire for more video tutorials from librarians. Several faculty mentioned wanting a library module that could serve as an introduction to the library, library resources, and basic instruction topics such as citation styles.
Conclusion – While some students and faculty have worked with librarians in online courses and welcomed their involvement, there is room for improvement in library outreach, including how the library communicates with and supports this growing population.
A Review of:
Grant, M. J., & Booth, A. (2009). A typology of reviews: An analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 26(2), 91–108. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x
Objective – The article, published in 2009, aims to provide a descriptive analysis of common review types to dispel confusion and misapplication of terminology.
Design – An examination of terminology and methods applied in published literature reviews.
Methods – Grant and Booth preliminarily performed a scoping search and drew on their own experiences in health and health information theory and practice. Using literature reviews from the Health Information and Libraries Journal review feature and reviews identified in a previously published evaluation of methods in systematic reviews and meta-analyses (Ankem, 2008), Grant and Booth examined characteristics of literature reviews. They subsequently identified variations in literature review methodologies and correlating vocabulary. After arriving at the conclusion that probing the review titles and descriptions—or alternatively, examining review workflow and timeframe processes—were not accurate for classifying review types, the authors chose to apply an analytical framework called Search, AppraisaL, Synthesis, and Analysis (SALSA). By examining the scope of the search, the method of appraisal, and the nature and characteristics of the synthesis and analysis, SALSA helped the authors describe and characterize the "review processes as embodied in the description of the methodology" (Grant & Booth, 2009, p. 104). By employing an objective technique to categorize literature review types, the authors generated a descriptive typology.
Main Results – The authors provided a descriptive typology for 14 different literature reviews: critical review, literature review, mapping review/systematic map, meta-analysis, mixed studies review/mixed methods review, overview review, qualitative systematic review/qualitative evidence synthesis, rapid review, scoping review, state-of-the-art review, systematic review, systematic search and review, systematized review, and umbrella review. With the application of the SALSA framework, the literature review types were defined and narratively described and summarized, along with perceived strengths, weaknesses, and a previously published example provided for comparison. Two tables supplied a quick reference for comparing literature review types and examining selected reviews. A breakdown of review types was followed by a discussion of using and developing reviews in the library and health information science domain.
Conclusion – Inconsistency in nomenclature and methods across literature reviews perpetuates significant confusion among those involved in authoring or deciphering literature reviews. Grant and Booth noted the lack of an internationally agreed-upon set of review types, the formulation of which would set a precedent for a better understanding of what is expected and required of such publications. In supplying a historical context of the literature review (detailing both its importance as a synthesis of primary research and its value to users), Grant and Booth provided a useful narrative and typology to "inform how LIS workers might approach the appraisal or development of a health information review" (p. 106).
Objective – This research project sought to determine if audio feedback in literature searches can increase the social presence of the library and create a positive view of the library service. It also explored the process of recording and sending audio feedback; tested its practicality, sustainability, and accessibility; and ascertained whether audio feedback enhanced the library’s communication, thereby creating a positive attitude toward the library and its services.
Methods – The research was conducted in a small virtual library and information service. The research sample consisted of all library users and clinicians who requested a mediated literature search between July 2019 and July 2020. All participants were sent an audio commentary on their search results, recorded by the librarian, and were asked to respond to an online questionnaire. The questionnaire consisted of five statements. The study participants indicated their agreement or disagreement with each statement on a five-point Likert scale.
Results – The researcher sent out 96 audio commentaries, generating 31 responses to the questionnaire. The results indicated that users felt the audio feedback improved their understanding of the results of their inquiry, made them feel more comfortable about using the library, enhanced their experience of communicating with the library and provided a better experience than just receiving an email. The responses broadly supported the contention that audio commentaries created social presence and generated a positive view of the library.
Conclusion – The researcher found that delivering audio feedback was both practical and sustainable. Some consideration was given to individual learning styles and how these made audio or text feedback more or less effective. Specifically, audio feedback enhanced communications better than an email alone.
Objective – Academic libraries have been impacted by the tremendous changes taking place in higher education due to the arrival of the internet and web-based technologies. Several articles have shown the decline in library usage and user need for electronic resources. The entry of MOOCs into higher education has repurposed the library’s roles and services. This research aims to explore the possible MOOC services of academic libraries and their effect on the user perception towards the significance of academic libraries.
Methods – The academic library’s MOOC services are derived from the extensive literature review and subsequently a research model based on extant literature has been developed to evaluate user behaviour. The research model is evaluated using confirmatory factor analysis methods.
Results – The academic library’s services for MOOCs have been categorized as, (a) user support services, (b) information services, and (c) infrastructure services. The study shows that each of these service categories have a positive impact on the library usage intention of the users. This in turn has a positive effect on the library’s perceived significance.
Conclusion – The library services for MOOC users defined in this research and the findings are useful for librarians to develop new service strategies to stay relevant for the user.
Objective – The aim of this study is to demonstrate the impact of a stand-alone, credit-bearing information literacy course on retention and GPA for students at an open access urban college.
Methods – Researchers conducted a mixed-methods study with a two-part focus. The first examined the impact of a credit-bearing course using propensity score matching (PSM) techniques to compare academic outcomes for students who participated in the course versus outcomes for similar students who did not enroll in the course. Multiple regression analyses were conducted to measure impact on GPA and performance in 100-level introductory English general education courses. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine persistence one year after enrolling in the course. The second part utilized a questionnaire to survey students of this targeted group to determine impact of the course on their information-seeking behaviour in subsequent academic courses and for non-academic purposes.
Results – The quantitative analyses showed: (a) a higher GPA, though slight, for students who have taken the course over the matched comparison group; (b) an increase in persistence for students who have taken the course over the matched comparison group after one year of taking the course; but (c) lower performance in 100-level introductory English courses by students who have taken the course in contrast to the matched comparison group. Qualitative data provided through the questionnaire revealed positive and substantive reflective statements that support learning outcomes of the course.
Conclusion – The findings in this study underscored the importance of a stand-alone, credit-bearing information literacy course for undergraduate students, particularly for first-generation students attending an open access urban institution. The findings also demonstrate the academic library’s contribution to institutional retention efforts in support of students’ academic success.
A Review of:
Burress, T., Mann, E., & Neville, T. (2020). Exploring data literacy via a librarian-faculty learning community: A case study. Journal of Academic Librarianship, 46(1). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2019.102076
Objective – To describe a librarian-lead faculty learning community (FLC) focused on data literacy.
Design – Case study.
Setting – A public university in Florida.
Subjects – 10 participants in the FLC.
Methods – Two librarians proposed the Data Literacy Across the Curriculum FLC as part of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning. Participants were recruited from all full-time instructional faculty. The group met for monthly 90-minute meetings throughout the fall and spring semesters. Meetings were focused on group goal-setting, lightning talks, open discussion, data tool demonstrations, and the planning and development of work projects. In addition, the group designed an informal survey on the use of data tools across the institution.
Main Results – At the conclusion of the year-long FLC, the group developed a frame for data literacy competencies that can be utilized across the curriculum. The FLC participants created a Data Literacy Faculty Toolkit that presented that theoretical framework, as well as providing sample activities and other resources to help faculty to practically implement that framework into their instruction. The student success librarian also integrated data literacy into the first-year student information literacy curriculum.
Conclusion – Participation and facilitation of the FLC by librarians served to further librarian-faculty collaboration, as well as demonstrating library value. The work of the Data Literacy Across the Curriculum FLC raised awareness about information and data literacy on campus, and provided support to faculty members looking to further integrate data literacy into their instruction.
A Review of:
Adkins, D., Buchanan, S. A., Bossaller, J. S., Brendler, B. M., Alston, J. K., & Moulaison Sandy, H. (2021). Assessing experiential learning to promote students’ diversity engagement. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 62(2), 201–219. https://doi.org/10.3138/jelis.2019-0061
Objective – To develop a rubric to assess diversity awareness and professional socialization through in-person or online experiential learning for online MLIS students.
Design – Exploratory case study.
Setting – School of Information Science & Learning Technologies, University of Missouri.
Subjects – Six experiential learning projects designed to promote diversity and professional socialization for online MLIS students.
Methods – The authors developed a rubric in order to evaluate the characteristics of several experiential learning projects. The major themes that were measured in the rubric were identified through a comprehensive literature search, and these included Professional Socialization, Service Orientation, Values Orientation, and Diversity & Inclusion. The authors also added three original accessibility factors that they considered relevant from a practical approach: time, money, and geographic mobility.
Main Results – The rubric was successfully applied to several ongoing experiential learning projects, as well as to a new project. The authors concluded that it provided a useful framework for assessing the accessibility and estimated value of these experiences.
Conclusion – The rubric seems to be a useful start to assessing experiential learning. However, more research is needed to ensure that it is actually measuring the domains that it is intended to measure. This study only focused on whether the rubric could be applied, whereas future studies should assess its accuracy. The rubric may be useful for curriculum evaluation and planning, accreditation, tenure/promotion, and instructor self-assessment.
A Review of:
Gerbig, M., Holmes, K., Lu, M., & Tang, H. (2021). From bricks and mortar to bits and bytes: Examining the changing state of reference services at the University of Toronto Libraries during COVID-19. Partnership, 16(1), 1–10. https://doi.org/10.21083/partnership.v16i1.6450
Objective – To compare data about the provision of reference services at the University of Toronto Libraries (UTL) prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to identify obstacles and opportunities facing UTL reference services in the future.
Design – Survey questionnaire.
Setting – A large public research university in Ontario, Canada.
Subjects – Thirty-nine libraries across the three campuses of UTL.
Methods – A Microsoft Forms survey comprised of 37 questions was distributed in August and September 2020.
Main Results – Twenty-four libraries responded to the survey, for a response rate of approximately 62%. UTL’s chat service saw a 200% increase in September 2020 compared to September 2019 (since UTL participates in chat as part of the Ontario Council of University Libraries Scholars Portal, some traffic may have been from non-UT users). The option to book a reference appointment with a librarian was available at most of the libraries before the pandemic, and remained available during the pandemic. The survey results suggested that the shift to remote learning resulted in a significant expansion of virtual reference appointments; 75% of libraries reported offering virtual reference, compared to 17% before the pandemic.
Consultations and in-depth reference questions rose during the pandemic, with a quarter of responding libraries reporting an increase. Librarians became a larger share of the staff providing reference services during the pandemic, whereas the number of libraries using library technicians or student assistants to staff their reference services decreased. There were changes to formal reference service hours as well, with half of responding libraries reporting a reduction; however, most noted that they continued to answer reference questions over email at other times.
In response to the survey question asking for general comments about reference services, some respondents described worries about whether students taking only online classes would engage with online reference services, and whether overstressed faculty members would refer their students to librarians. Several respondents noted positive outcomes in moving towards a primarily online reference model, including more options to connect with students and an uptick in reference requests.
Conclusion – The authors note several challenges and opportunities for libraries in shifting to a remote reference model. Challenges include confusion on the part of users about where to go for help and increased workload for librarians. Opportunities include the chance to explore how virtual technologies can be used to make reference services more easily available to library users even after physical spaces have opened back up.
Objective – This study uses the Kaleidoscope Career Model (Mainiero & Sullivan 2006a) to determine key sources of motivation for library professionals during their careers and identifies strategies for how library administrators can better retain and inspire their staff.
Methods – The authors adapted the Kaleidoscope Career Model survey tool with permission from Mainiero and Sullivan. The authors used Qualtrics to send out the adapted survey and in October 2019 emailed a call for participation with the survey link to six library electronic mailing lists. A total of 433 participants completed the survey. The authors reviewed the demographic data and charts Qualtrics generated and used an open-coding method to analyze the qualitative responses to open-ended questions included in the survey. First, they read through those responses, identified common words, phrases, and ideas, which became initial codes. Then the authors reviewed the codes and determined themes common in the data. Each author coded and analyzed each question. Those themes then informed the discussion and recommendations shared in this article.
Results – Nearly 60% of respondents identified as being in the Authenticity phase, 15% in the Challenge phase, and 18% in the Balance phase. When asked if they felt supported, those in the Authenticity phase reported the highest overall level of satisfaction, with those in the 47–52 years old cohort experiencing peak feelings of support. The study found that all early career practitioners seemed interested in continuing in a supervisory role. Those older participants in the Balance phase were less interested than those in the other two phases in continuing to supervise. Those in the Authenticity phase identified most strongly with being organizational leaders. By contrast, older participants in the Balance phase did not identify strongly as leaders. Those in the Challenge phase showed strong interest in being leaders at an early age and that interest increased among older cohorts.
Conclusion – This study is the first to analyze sources of motivation for academic librarians during the stages of their careers. When working with librarians who identify with the Authenticity phase, administrators should work with their employees to develop career goals that are extrinsically based, such as what can be achieved through good work rather than striving for a dream position. Librarians in the Balance phase would benefit from early opportunities to develop leadership roles or serve in supervisory roles. These early opportunities better fit with their efforts to prioritize family later in life. Librarians in the Challenge phase are intrinsically motivated to achieve and strive. They may experience disappointment as newer career librarians continue to advance and as they begin to plateau later in life. Leaders must consider the kinds of changes their organization can withstand as they strive to best support and foster the growth and development of all of their employees.
Objective – Chat transcript analysis can illuminate user needs by identifying common question topics, but traditional hand coding methods for topic analysis are time-consuming and poorly suited to large datasets. The research team explored the viability of automatic and natural language processing (NLP) strategies to perform rapid topic analysis on a large dataset of transcripts from a consortial chat service.
Methods – The research team developed a toolchain for data processing and analysis, which incorporated targeted searching for query terms using regular expressions and natural language processing using the Python spaCy library for automatic topic analysis. Processed data was exported to Tableau for visualization. Results were compared to hand-coded data to test the accuracy of conclusions.
Results – The processed data provided insights about the volume of chats originating from each participating library, the proportion of chats answered by operator groups for each library, and the percentage of chats answered by different staff types. The data also captured the top referring URLs for the service, course codes and file extensions mentioned, and query hits. Natural language processing revealed that the most common topics were related to citation, subscription databases, and finding full-text articles, which aligns with common question types identified in hand-coded transcripts.
Conclusion – Compared to hand coding, automatic and NLP processing approaches have benefits in terms of the volume of data that can be analyzed and the time frame required for analysis, but they come with a trade-off in accuracy, such as false hits. Therefore, computational approaches should be used to supplement traditional hand coding methods. As NLP becomes more accurate, approaches such as these may widen avenues of insight into virtual reference and patron needs.
Objective – This study investigated researchers’ perceptions of open access publishing and the ways in which the university’s open access subvention fund could evolve to meet the campus community’s needs.
Methods – In spring 2021, two librarians conducted an anonymous survey using a convenience sample to recruit participants. The survey was directly distributed to 113 University of Idaho (U of I) affiliates who had received funding from, or expressed interest in, the open access subvention fund during the previous three years (FY 2019 to FY 2021). Other U of I affiliates were also offered the opportunity to participate in the survey via a link shared in the U of I’s daily email newsletter as well across the U of I’s graduate student email list. The researchers received 42 usable survey responses. The survey included 26 closed and open-ended questions and analysis included cross-tabulations based on fund applicant status as well as respondent role. Of the 26 questions, 4 were modified from a colleague’s previous study with U of I faculty members (Gaines, 2015).
Results – Survey responses showed that interest in and support for open access were common among respondents. Although a majority of respondents had published an open access journal article and would like to continue to publish open access in the future, only 17% agreed that they had departmental support to do so. Results also demonstrated that researchers were less willing to pay article processing charges (APCs) out-of-pocket and preferred for funding to come from grant budgets first, followed by Office of Research Budgets, department or college budgets, and library budgets. Respondents expressed support for many of the open access subvention fund’s current criteria and processes, but they also indicated an interest in establishing a more equitable fund distribution cycle and allowing researchers to seek pre-approval once their article was accepted for peer-review. Findings related to open access publishing perspectives built upon previous research conducted at the U of I (Gaines, 2015) and across other institutions.
Conclusion – This study confirmed the importance of evaluating and assessing library programs and services to ensure that they continue to meet the needs of campus communities. Through the study results, the researchers demonstrated that respondents were interested in open access publishing and the continuation of the open access subvention fund, as well as offering the U of I an opportunity to adjust the open access subvention fund’s processes to better serve researchers. These results also highlighted the need for those involved in open access publishing support to investigate new open access advocacy and education efforts to ensure that researchers receive the philosophical and financial support they need to pursue different models of scholarly publishing.
A Review of:
Hamer, S. (2021). Colour blind: Investigating the racial bias of virtual reference services in English academic libraries. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 47(5), 102416. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acalib.2021.102416
Objective – To investigate whether there is evidence for implicit ethnic bias in virtual reference service interactions.
Design – Email-based structured observation study.
Setting – Academic libraries in England.
Subjects – 158 email-based virtual reference service interactions from one of 24 academic libraries in England.
Methods – The study used a sample of 24 academic libraries across eight of the nine regions of England (excluding London). The body of the email message sent to each library consisted of one of five questions and was identical except for personalization to the institution. The first three questions were designed to be more likely to be answered in response to an unaffiliated user, and the last two questions were designed to be less likely to be answered in response to such a user. Each library received an email with each question from a different sender during each of five weeks, plus a repeat of question one in week six with slightly altered wording to serve as a control question. Emails were sent on randomized work days at different times of day. The messages were signed with one of six names representing the largest distinct ethnic population groups in England and Wales: Hazel Oakland (White British), Natasza Sakowicz (White Other), Zhao Jinghua (North Asian), Priya Chakrabarti (South Asian), Ebunoluwa Nweke (Black African), and Aaliyah Hajjar (Arab). All names were feminine and represented unaffiliated users. Email replies were coded according to a set of 27 characteristics based on the two most well-known professional guidelines for providing best practice reference services, namely, IFLA and RUSA.
Main Results – 133 out of 144 sent queries received a reply, of which 66 partially or fully answered the question. 158 total emails were received (since an email might receive multiple responses), and 67 of these partially or fully answered the question. Differences in how the librarian’s reply addressed the user were evident. Hazel was the only one never referred to by her full name, whereas Jinghua was the least likely to be referred to by her given name and most likely to be referred to by her full name or no name at all. Greeting phrases were used in most responses. About 20% of responses included a reiteration of the original request. Elements of the response which could be seen as promoting information literacy skills were provided in only 11% of responses. Natasza was the most likely to be referred to another source to answer her query, whereas Jinghua was least likely. Ebunoluwa was the least likely to receive a response to her query and least likely to have her question answered overall.
Conclusion – The findings point to some evidence of unequal service provision based on unconscious bias. In the aggregate, Ebunoluwa received the lowest quality of service, while Jinghua received the highest. There were several instances of inappropriately addressing the user, or what the author refers to as name-based microaggressions, and this was most common for Jinghua. The likeliest explanation is that many librarians are unfamiliar with the ordering of names traditionally found in East Asian cultures. The most noticeable result of the study is an overall lack of consistent adherence to professional guidelines. For instance, most queries received a reply within a reasonable timeframe, and greeting and closing phrases were included almost universally. However, other elements of the author’s rubric, such as those corresponding to clarity and information literacy, were not consistently applied. The results point to a greater need for librarians to follow best practice in virtual reference services. Furthermore, the author believes that best-practice guidelines must actively engage with anti-racist ideas to address the issues that were found in the study.
A Review of:
VanScoy, Amy. (2021). Using Q methodology to understand conflicting conceptualizations of reference and information service. Library and Information Science Research, 43(1), 101107. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lisr.2021.101107
Objective – To understand how experienced librarians conceptualize reference and information service (RIS), and to determine if and to what extent these conceptualizations match existing RIS models.
Design – Q methodology card sort followed by short interview.
Setting – Academic, public, school, and special libraries in Slovenia, South Africa, and the United States.
Subjects – Sixty-six (66) librarians from Slovenia, South Africa, and the United States.
Methods – The researcher asked participants to sort 35 statements about RIS from “Least like how I think” to “Most like how I think.” The participants had the opportunity to comment on their card sort. From these card sorts, the researcher used statistical methods to generate factors describing underlying conceptualizations of RIS. These factors were compared to existing literature on RIS.
Main Results – Departing from the prevailing “information provision/instruction” conceptualizations of RIS, the researcher found that most respondents conceptualized RIS according to three previously unacknowledged paradigms: 1) transformation and empathy; 2) communication and information provision; and 3) empowering and learning. Fifty-three (53) of the 66 participants loaded on to one of these three factors, i.e. sorted their cards in a similar way to other participants in that factor. Factors 2 and 3 supported existing ideas of RIS in the literature, whereas factor 1 presented a novel understanding of RIS. Common to all three factors, however, is a strong focus on the user.
Conclusion – Traditional models conceptualize RIS as emphasizing either information provision or instruction. The practical judgments of experienced, working librarians, however, gesture toward different, more nuanced theoretical conclusions. Beyond the traditional poles of RIS, librarians consider empathy, empowerment, transformation, and communication as other important aspects of the RIS function.