28 March 2012

Skills v. resources

For last few years I have been including elements of searching techniques (applicable to any search tools, and those techniques which are specific to Google) into my information skills sessions. I also sometimes run Google Inside-Out sessions for students and staff and the response was positive. Recently I started having doubts whether I wasn't wasting time and should have concentrated instead completely on quality resources offered by the library, especially as often I have only one chance to see learners. An article on university students' online research behaviour didn't resolve my doubts, but made me to think that the dilemma is not going to go away and that perhaps there is no easy answer to it. If we, FE librarians, positioned ourselves as those whose main role is developing traditional and digital literacies - and were perceived as such by our employers - then the answer would be easy: sure, Google should also be one of our main concerns. My colleague teaching on HE programme is adamant: HE curriculum implicitly requires librarian's input into teaching, as the expected outcomes of any course include being able to find and use relevant and appropriate information. This is not so clear with vocational programmes. I think, a distinction between an induction and information skills session is helpful: the first assumes showing available resources and services, the second - developing competencies. However, when a librarian has only one chance of seeing students, particularly FE students, what should be the priority? I am tempted to say skills, but I think the reality is not so straightforward in our sector.

In the article mentioned above I loved the point on students disguising their readings from tutors. Bring Turitin! - perhaps, would be my answer. And seminars as book clubs - it works.

And another point - students and researchers being not aware of using libraries while accessing databases, e-journals etc. The article's recipe for that: seamless access requires branding.

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