Liaison & context – a little more

Today the Scholarly Kitchen has a post – Seven things every researcher should know about scholarly publishing. The post contains a very useful comment – “As an acdemic, you are one of many players in a highly complex ecosystem of scholarly communication and publishing much of which functions beyond the boundaries of your perception”. I think that this is a useful prompt for librarians – we & our clients operate in a highly complex ecosystem, much of which functions beyond the boundaries of the perceptions of each of us in this professional partnership. But, they do influence each other – profoundly so, for those of us on the service delivery side of the partnership.

As librarians, we can identify ecosystem intersections & use our professional relationships to communicate how common aspects of our ecosystem affect each other in different ways, but in ways that inevitably influence both of us. I think that this brings us back to the value of high context communication. Two recent examples of liaison work spring to mind – one related to information literacy & the other to collection maintenance.

Yesterday I had a discussion with a Head of School about problem solving learning in our undergraduate programs. His part of the conversation focussed on the difficulties teaching problem solving in the current format & the students’ complaints about the problem solving courses & their value to their studies. From a librarian’s perspective, I could talk about a number of information literacy issues that I often see when I work with the students who approach me or use the online resources that I create. I have learnt that many students struggle to focus on the problem solving process & look to the outcome as the artefact which must be produced. He agreed & this got us talking a little about information literacy & the problem solving process, which moved us on to the Research Skills Developement Framework & its sister problem solving framework & two “translations” of the Framework that I have developed to support staff & students – a teacher-friendly version of Levels 1-4 & a student-friendly version of Levels 1-4. It also let me talk a little about some RSDF work & interest in the University & some interest that his evolving in his School & a closely related School. This is a valuable conversation as it helps a key stakeholder see how librarians’ work links in with teaching work in a way that he has not experienced himself.

And, back to my big weeding project. My communications here have focussed on the common factor in our ecosystem – Google & free web-based information. Yes, it has led to a student preference to avoid the use of scholarly & professional material purchased by the Library & that frustrates markers who see the impact in assignment work. But, that means that demand for library resources declines & hard copy materials are taking up space for no purpose & so libraries want to weed. Turfing out the physical artefacts/records of a discipline’s knowledge base naturally concerns many academics – for many even more than the assessment concerns, so we have a perfect opportunity to connect the various experiences in our ecosystem to create greater understandings &, hopefully in time, responses to a lack of use of the resources that the library purchases.


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