By Philip Keates
So, today we’ll be exploring how libraries worldwide attempt to engage with their academic staff, and how they try to support them in their research. We’ll also have a look at ways in which librarians might go about conducting their own research, in assessing how effective services are, and which new services might be required. A slightly tenuous connection, you say? Well, it’s all broadly about research, in a loose sense, and I couldn’t find anywhere else to shoehorn in the information on surveys, so deal with it. You’re getting plenty of blog post bang for your Erasmus buck here, so I’d appreciate fewer smart comments, thank you very much.
Getting academics on board from the start can be a challenge, and some ways of catching them early were shared. At Sabanci Universitesi Information Center they invite new academics into the library for a targeted orientation. Koç University provides detailed leaflets on library services for all new academics, with Vasia requesting contact details for all new faculty members, and chasing them up by email if they aren’t able to meet face-to-face, in order to ensure that they know how to get the most out of their library.
A number of institutions tried to connect with faculty by inviting them into the library space for talks and other events. Jing Xu of Zhejiang University Libraries (they have about a million libraries, and they’re all enormous. Jing was very nice, but we all felt a bit insignificant…) mentioned hosting lectures in library buildings. Lingnan University Library hosts “research celebration” events, at which academic staff are encouraged to talk about their new publications, and the Swedish research institute in Istanbul actually hosts the launch events for their researchers’ new books.
In terms of directly assisting academics with their research, Koç provides citation tracking lists on request, and Mine’s team at Sabanci actually provide individualised, weekly email alerts to their academics, with attached spreadsheets detailing the tables of contents for new issues of journals (whether currently subscribed to or not). Sounds massively labour-intensive, but apparently it’s a much-appreciated service.
Çiğdem Yıldırım of Koç gave a presentation on Open Access (OA), and the challenges of promoting it to academics. We didn’t get the impression that publication through OA is a mandated requirement in Turkey, as it is in many cases in the UK, but there still seems to be a concerted effort to adopt OA models as much as possible. OA2020, a “global alliance committed to accelerating the transition to open access”, was frequently mentioned, and Koç is apparently a member of a number of OA archives and organisations – OpenAIRE, re3data.org, OpenDOAR and Zenodo. Çiğdem has been involved in the creation of an OA advocacy group at Koç, and in surveying academics and postgrads to understand their perceptions of OA and the Koç repository. She also touched on the difficulty of promoting smaller home institutional repositories to academics over (or at least in addition to) larger repositories like ResearchGate, and suggested emphasising sustainability, copyright responsibility, and a more personal touch.
Koç University has begun experimenting with initiatives to help their academics publish OA. They have agreed to fund the article processing charges (APCs) for academics who publish through OA publisher Cogitatio, for example – Cogitatio currently only publish four journals, but it’s seen as a positive start. Koç also ran a competition amongst academic staff, with APC payment as the top prize.
Finally, some more ideas for gathering data from library users. Kamil Yerşiltaş of Koç suggested a number of reasons why libraries should regularly conduct user surveys – they help winnow out unused services, as well as improve popular ones, and they should also be viewed as a useful marketing tool. Sponsorship from faculties helps them provide enticing incentives for participation – but chocolate is also always appreciated! Kamil talked about online tools such as Kahoot! and Qualtrics, but also emphasised that paper surveys still have their place – they’re often harder for potential participants to ignore! He suggested a branching structure for questions, meaning participants don’t have to waste time on questions not relevant to them.
And lastly, we heard from Phoebe of Lingnan how they investigated their users’ information literacy needs. In this, as in many other projects (see first and second posts), the universities of Hong Kong worked together. Their qualitative study of IL needs involved interviewing 12 students (each studying a different subject) at each Hong Kong institution. This was complemented by information gathered through the online Research Readiness Self-Assessment Tool, completed by 200 undergraduates at each university. The fruit of all this research was, of course, InfoLit for U, the IL MOOC we have looked at already. Could I have mentioned this before, in the IL blog post? Perhaps. But did I? No. So that’s ok then.
One more post! And hopefully it’ll be a fun one. Well, relatively. Gird your loins (www.artofmanliness.com/articles/how-to-gird-up-your-loins-an-illustrated-guide), for next time we shall explore the seedy underbelly of librarianship, and venture into the murky world…of metadata. A bit. There actually wasn’t that much on metadata, sadly. Well, I was sad. It’ll mostly be about special collections, which I suppose are pretty cool. And anything else I forgot to include in previous posts. But I’m sure it’ll somehow be fun anyway.
You might actually want to save the loin-girding until closer to the time. I wouldn’t want anyone injuring themselves due to prematurely girded loins.