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Volume II, Issue 3, October 20, 2003
Getting to Know the Andrews University Faculty: A Library Survey
Wolfhard Touchard, Reference/Database Librarian, James White Library, Andrews University, email@example.com and Cynthia Mae Helms, Head, Dept. of Information Services, James White Library, Andrews University, firstname.lastname@example.org
In the past years, the library services at Andrews University have given sporadic attention to their university faculty, although it has mainly been given to their students. If the library is to be vital to the research and teaching functions of the faculty, then the library must reach out to its faculty. This study has been conducted to gain a deeper understanding of the university faculty prior to the development of a faculty outreach program. The study shows that the faculty uses the library’s Web site but only a few familiar sections. The faculty encourages their students to use the library but do not always check the availability of the resources prior to giving their assignments, nor do they often use course reserves. Faculty expresses a general lack of interest in library instruction because it takes time away from their classes and believes research should be taught in other classes. The most encouraging note from this study is the faculty’s interest in communicating with the librarians through e-mail, departmental faculty meetings, and inter-campus mail. They would also like to see new services such as real-time reference and discipline-specific Web portals. The challenge for the faculty outreach librarian is to develop new ways of communication with the faculty and to help them see the value of library instruction.
One of the challenges that libraries face today is working with the changing population characterized by those who are comfortable with the card catalog and print resources and those who want to do everything electronically. Academic libraries are not an exception to this because they have students as well as faculty members who fall anywhere within this wide spectrum of patrons. Regardless of who our patrons are, we librarians are interested in knowing how we can best meet their needs and make our services known to them. This study aims to understand the needs of the teaching faculty at Andrews University as a basis for developing a faculty outreach program.
Andrews University is a church-related university in Southwest Michigan with 2,721 students and 261 faculty members (Quick, 2003). It is comprised of the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Technology, School of Business, School of Education, Division of Architecture, and the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. The last one offers only graduate programs; all others offer both undergraduate and graduate programs (Andrews University, 2003-2004; correction to the bulletin information provided by Davis, D., personal communication, July 11, 2003). The university offers on-campus and distance education courses and is also known for its multicultural population.
James White Library (JWL), the university library, has given orientation tours, course-related instruction, as well as workshops for the international students, transfer students, and community. Library instruction was given to faculty in various occasions such as new faculty orientation, where it was an optional session, and also at general faculty meetings where librarians gave short presentations. Some faculty members attended workshops for their own personal growth.
For many years, library instruction was a responsibility shared by a handful of librarians who were under the leadership of a reference librarian, whose job description included the coordination of library instruction. While attempts were made to reach the students, the reference personnel were encountering faculty members who were not fully aware of our collections and services. Faculty were sometimes sending students to look for titles that we did not have, assigning students to read books that they did not put on reserve, or giving deadlines that were not realistic because the items needed had to be acquired through interlibrary loan. It had reached the point where it was time to do something special for the faculty.
It was this realization that triggered the idea of assigning someone the role of faculty outreach librarian. This role was added to the reference librarian’s job during the reorganization of the library personnel in 1995. Before that time, the role of instruction librarian was part of the responsibilities of the head of the Department of Information Services. Two librarians in the Department of Information Services did most library instruction. They were assisted by the department head, reference librarian, head cataloger, and seminary librarian, all of whom did instruction in addition to their current jobs. These librarians coordinated their work through the venue of the Library Instruction Committee.
When the reference librarian assumed the role of faculty outreach librarian, his main objective was to contact as many faculty members as possible for sessions of library instruction. He drew a list of faculty names and marked them off when appointments were set up with them individually, in groups, or by department. The university president also attended one of these sessions. The responses to these sessions varied but were mostly positive. One faculty member sent a letter of appreciation for the one-on-one session because it gave him a chance to catch up with changing technology in a private setting.
Creating these types of sessions was a formidable task for one faculty outreach librarian to accomplish. While it made the faculty aware and knowledgeable in the use our services and collection, it was a very time consuming job, especially with faculty turnover and the speed by which technology was changing.
In 1998, the Department of Information Services hired an instructional librarian, which increased the number of professional librarians in the department to three. The newly hired person could devote more time to develop and improve the classes and workshops targeted to students and community patrons. Even with the hiring of the instruction librarian, the job of faculty outreach continued to reside in the reference librarian’s job description in order to give him time to implement his program. While some faculty members’ needs appeared to be met, there was no clear indication of what the faculty knew and what their needs were as a whole. During the school year of 1999-2000, the library instructors decided it was time to systematically study the needs of the faculty in order to efficiently develop an instruction program geared to those needs.
Review of Literature
A survey of the literature shows that librarians have long been interested in working with the faculty and determining their needs before the 1990s. Some publications date back to the 1960s and 1970s. Sibley (1960) wrote a thesis on selected faculty use and evaluation of the library and Nelson (1971) wrote a dissertation on communication between reference librarians and the faculty in selected California state colleges. Goeddecke (1975) wrote about college library public relations. Lopez-Munoz (1977) compiled a bibliography of articles published 1968-1975 on public services in academic libraries and one section in particular dealt with relations with faculty and the curriculum. Nelson’s (1973) article revealed that the average faculty member was aware of half the services available in the library.
There were varied types of publications in the 1980s. Tomczyk (1989) wrote
two chapters in an edited book about faculty-librarian collaboration in selecting
media and serials. One of the target areas for future planning, brought out
by the Northwestern University User Education Task Force (1989), was the need
to expand faculty outreach. Lester (1984) reported on a survey of faculty
perception of students’ use of libraries at the University of Virginia.
The Association of Research Libraries (1987) published a book on library-scholar
Ducas and Michaud-Oystryk (2003) conducted a survey at the University of Manitoba to explore librarian-faculty interaction. It concluded that the faculty was not aware of librarians’ capabilities. It also showed that the faculty thought that librarians lack sufficient ability and expertise. The study demonstrated the need for ongoing collaboration between faculty and librarians. Weingart and Anderson’s study (2000) recommended greater publicity and more training opportunities. Feldman and Sciammarella’s survey (2000) pointed out that communication is an important part of faculty librarian relationships. These studies indicate that communication and marketing are the keys to good faculty-librarian relationships.
Laying the Foundation
While the literature has shown increased interest in faculty and library communications in other universities, Andrews University has not done much for its faculty. The library approached the issue of understanding its faculty by starting with informal focus groups. Each focus group was composed of two to four librarians and four to seven faculty members. The focus group meetings were held with a total of 20 faculty members from the School of Education, College of Arts and Sciences, School of Business, and Theological Seminary. Since the reference/faculty outreach librarian served as the liaison with the College of Technology, he justified eliminating this group because he had various opportunities of interacting and collaborating through attendance at their faculty meetings and individual contacts with several faculty members. Furthermore, the courses they offered were laboratory, shop, or studio-oriented and the their research needs were filled by their own reading room and periodical subscriptions. Considering those reasons, the Library Instruction Committee proceeded with conducting the informal focus groups with the remaining schools in the university.
The Library Instruction Committee formulated questions that asked the faculty’s use of the library in relation to their personal research as well as to their classes, their expectations of the library, their interest in workshops, and the best ways of communicating with them. This preliminary study was encouraging because faculty expressed appreciation for the librarians’ interest in them. The focus groups held in the 1999-2000 school year revealed several things:
This short study came up with the following recommendations:
Hypothesis, Objective, and Methodology
After gaining encouragement from the informal focus groups, the faculty outreach librarian and the Library Instruction Committee decided to conduct a more thorough, campus-wide survey during the following 2000-2001 school year. The hypothesis was that the faculty members were not fully aware of the services offered by the library, and there was a need to train and instruct them about the library. Since this was the first time JWL had a faculty outreach librarian, the main purpose of this study was to gather information about the faculty’s use of the library, their interests and awareness of library resources, and to design a library instruction program for them. Other suggestions for improving the library’s services would also be considered.
The faculty outreach librarian formulated the survey, presented it to the Library Instruction Committee, and then submitted it to the Office of Scholarly Research for approval. Address labels were generated by the University’s Computing Center and attached to envelopes rather than on the survey form to maintain confidentiality of the subjects, and were mailed to faculty.
Of the 247 survey forms distributed, 106 (47%) were returned. The highest number of responses was received from the College of Arts and Sciences, the college with the largest number of faculty members. A close-to-even number of associate and full professors responded. The next highest number of responses came from assistant professors, followed by a small percentage of instructors. The respondents identified themselves by the length of time they had been teaching. About twice as many faculty members with over 10 years’ experience responded as those who had 10 years or less.
Results Based on Rank and Teaching Experience
Some respondents did not indicate their years of service or academic rank. However, faculty members who taught more than 10 years comprised 56% of those who responded and had either the rank of full or associate professor. This group of respondents provided positive responses in terms of using the library Web site and encouraging their students to use the library. There was an equal number of positive and negative responses regarding the use of course reserves, interest in library sessions, and recommending specific library resources for class assignments.
A comparison of responses based on rank did not differ greatly for those who have taught more than 10 years. The most outstanding difference was evident in the question that dealt with whether faculty members recommended specific library resources when they gave class assignments. More full professors said they did compared to associate professors who said they did not, considering the ratio within their own ranks.
Thirty-five percent of the faculty members who had taught 10 years or less were either associate or assistant professors. Other than using the library Web site and encouraging the use of library resources, this group checked the library resources prior to giving class assignments. An equal number responded negatively and positively about using course reserves and their interest in library sessions. Associate professors leaned towards the positive while the assistant professors leaned more towards the negative regarding interest in library sessions.
The survey focused on the faculty members’ own needs and those related to their classes. However, the researchers recognized that the mode of communication was an important consideration to make a connection with them. When faculty were asked how they wanted to be informed of the library’s new services and resources, 87% gave email as the most preferred method, followed by newsletters, inter-campus mail, departmental faculty meetings, and Web sites (See Figure 1).
Personal Use and Awareness of Library Resources
This study aimed to elicit information from the faculty on their use of the library’s Web site and which specific portions. Ninety percent of the respondents said they used the library’s Web site. The remaining 10% gave reasons for not using it such as, “not yet in the habit of using it”, or, “seldom need to because I have quite a number of journals to keep up with.” Those reasons are personal in nature; however, reasons such as “it took too much time to use,” “did not know that it was there,” or, “they have not been introduced to me as a new faculty”, indicate that the faculty outreach librarian should develop marketing plans and strive to reach those who are not aware of what the library offers.
As shown in Figure 2, the library catalog was the top source used on the library’s Web site as revealed by 91% of the subjects. Over half of this 91% said they also used the online resources (a list of free and subscription databases and selected Web sites), full text journal titles (a list of all periodicals available in the Library either in print or electronic form), and Web search engines. Less than 50% of this group used the faculty support services information on the Web page. Hardly anyone used the tutorials; there was more interest in events and workshop information than in the tutorials.
Faculty Influence on Students’ Use of the Library
Does the faculty encourage their students to use library resources? It is encouraging to note that 93% said they did. Three percent responded negatively because they assumed that the students were using what they needed or found updated materials on the Web. One respondent said he seldom encourages the students to use library resources but probably should do more of it.
Figure 3 shows that 92% of the respondents said they encouraged their students to use periodicals. Seventy-seven percent also encouraged use of books and the Internet; 69% encouraged use of electronic indexes and reference works. The data revealed about 21% of faculty members encouraged use other resources such as software programs, human resources, textbooks, and audiovisuals.
The faculty respondents were asked if they considered the students’ needs by setting aside materials on reserve for their classes. The results showed that only half of the respondents used course reserves. Those who did not use course reserves gave the following reasons: course reserves were not necessary, the students were encouraged to use their own textbooks, the class being taught is not reading-intensive, the course materials are placed on the web, and some materials are kept in the department. There were those who just felt that they did not have the time to use them but “will eventually get to it.” One faculty member’s reason for not using reserves was that his students were off-campus. This indicates an insufficient awareness of how electronic reserves benefit on- and off-campus students.
Relationship of Class Assignments to Library Use
The type of assignments given by the faculty had a bearing on how and why students use the library. In Figure 4, 70% of the surveyed faculty said they required research papers and 69% gave assigned readings. Other types of assignments were reaction papers (37%), online assignments (26%), and opinion papers (25%). Twenty-one percent gave other types of assignments such as case analysis, homework from texts, book reviews, journaling, current events reports, source-based and personal essays, problem solving, studio exercises, literature analysis, and projects.
One of the difficulties encountered at JWL information/reference desk is the situation where students did not easily find resources for their assignments, thus the survey question: “Do you have specific sources in mind when you give library-related assignments?” Only half of the respondents said they checked the availability of library materials before giving assignments. About a quarter said that they never checked the library. This helps with understanding why students become frustrated with finding assigned library materials. Students who are not able to find required readings placed on reserve face the same frustration as those who are unable to find resources for their assignments because their faculty instructors did not check library holdings prior to making them.
Faculty Interest in Library Instruction
The survey showed that the subjects were split when asked about their interest in having library sessions for their classes. The most commonly stated reason for not wanting a library session, given by 18% of the respondents, was it was not their responsibility to include a library session in their classes. The faculty felt that teaching the use of the library was the responsibility of a previous class or of the students’ themselves. They also expected the students to have had a library session before coming to their classes or should have learned it on their own. One commented, “this is a research class. My class is not to teach research but to do research.”
A small percentage (7%) felt that a library session was not necessary or that there was no time for it. Some of the faculty said that the students do not see the value of library sessions. One said, “students don’t even read the text, how successful would I be in getting them to use [library] resources?” Another respondent said he should be able to do the library instruction himself.
Faculty members who said they were teaching off-campus felt they did not need library instruction. Another reason was because of the change to Web-based services. These reasons given by faculty for not wanting library instruction are the very reasons they need instruction. The dawn of technology makes it possible for off-campus students and faculty to use the resources on the library’s Web site, but it is important that they learn how to use them correctly and efficiently.
Faculty Interest in Other Library Services
Three specific library services were proposed to the subjects of this study. The most favored form of service was for electronic, real-time reference, chosen by 42% of the respondents. The next favored one was for discipline-specific Web portals at 39%. The service ranked third was faculty workshops at 33%.
Summary, Conclusion, and Recommendations
This study reveals that faculty members are not aware of JWL’s services and have varying reasons for not using them. More effort should be exerted in outreach to faculty and meeting their needs on their level. The faculty listed a variety of resources they expect their students to use and they also showed the various instructional methods they use for their classes. This helped the librarians see that some classes are heavily dependent on the library, such as those requiring book reviews and research papers, while others oriented towards laboratory or studio work are not.
The three main areas of concern from this study are faculty use of course reserves, interest in library sessions, and checking the library for specific resources before giving class assignments. Particular attention should be given to promoting electronic course reserves as a new feature in the library’s Web site. This resource’s online capabilities may excite some new faculty but may scare older faculty; thus, the library should try to inform them of what it has to offer and to make them comfortable with changes occurring in the library.
The lack of interest in library sessions may also be a point of further study. If it is truly logical for some faculty to think that research skills must be taught in classes other than theirs, it is a challenge for the faculty outreach librarian to find out what those classes are and spend considerable time marketing the various library services to them. The attitude that students are supposed to learn the research skills on their own must also be addressed. This is where tutorials may prove useful.
The faculty outreach librarian should develop a program that helps faculty
members see the value of checking library resources before giving class assignments
and putting things on reserve. This matter could be approached from the students’
perspective. When students come to the library and find out that the library
resources for their classes have not been set on reserves or are available,
they can be frustrated and discouraged to use the library. This is where the
library, students, and the faculty should work together.
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Survey of Faculty Use of Library Resources and Services