Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Information behaviour of the researcher of the future

This CIBER briefing paper is the most important read for academic librarians for a long time! Commissioned by JISC and the BL, it is the first attempt at a longitudinal study of how the so-called Google generation are using our libraries and what this might mean in the future. What stands out for me :

The huge choice available for our users to switch between now - from subscription databases to wikis, bookmarked items etc etc.

The research warehouse concept is becoming redundant as the library adapts to becoming a digital environment.

Everyone (staff AND students) are seeing huge changes in how they find information.

Research libraries are still offering huge range of content but often via intuitive interfaces.

E-books are going to become a big success story - sooner than I expected.

We should stop downloading dubious downloaded use stats and get nearer to our users' real search behaviour.

Time taken by users on e sites looking at e books or journals is low with the rise of power browsing.

Information literacy of young people has not improved despite the growth of access.

Young people do not spend enough time on evaluation of web sites.

They have problems with keywords.

They don't understand the structure ofthe web and associate a search engine as their "brand" of web.

They don't find library resources and prefer the ease of the search engines.

We can expect that present younger generations will move markedly toward virtual library by preference.

There is a lot of questionable information about the way young people behave in cyberspace - many myths.

They approach research without regard to library structure and different segments of our web sites, and we dont aggregate subject resources very well.

Social web sites are transforming the web and making formally published and self-published material indistinguishable.

Libraries often pay for the content but dont get the credit.

E-books are more important than social networking issues.

There is a whole list of supposed characteristics of the Google generation : some they agree with, some myths are exploded. Perhaps a common thread would be that some characteristics are not JUST the Web generation but are far more general - e.g. that learners prefer small chunks of information. Indeed as other generation strive to "catch up" there will be common trends.

From a library viewpoint, the report does conclude that young people are unaware of library-sponsored content, and this is the library's problem.

So we are all gradually becoming the Google generation as all generations use the Web and Web 2.0 more widelky for all kinds of purpose.

There is too little emphasis on research into information skills behaviour of young people entering into higher education.The research in the US ( Gross, Melissa and Latham, Don "Attaining information literacy : an investigation of the relationship between skill level, self-estimates of skill, and library anxiety" Library & Information Science Research (2007) 29 332-353, about which I posted recently), if replicated here would suggest that HE is too late to make up for the Googling habits, which will be too deep-seated. This has really serious implications for school librarians, could imply outreach work from HE librarians, or new ways to reach these students once in HE.

Explosion of electronic book content could mean in the future that our library-sponsored content will shrink in relative terms.

We will have to cope with different versions of the same document (pre-publication) and different forms of peer-review.

Users will not put up with barriers to access.

We should integrate content within commercial search engines.

Library users are diverse and we need to study their characteristics and behaviour much more closely.

Power browsing is terribly important.

Our sites need to be more visible on the web.

We won't be a one-stop shop.

Get IL on the agenda because people are finding it hard to navigate and get the best scholarly material.

This is my longest ever post. Do read the original as well!

LASSIE reports!

In case you haven't seen these, the research reports from LASSIE (Libraries and Social Software in Education) led by Jane Secker and Gwyneth Price, are now available. There are useful short reports on use of social software and reading lists ; resource sharing and social software ; citing and referencing podcast and blogging and libraries. I found the report on use of with distance learners particularly interesting. The first report on reading lists, alas, showed that all the systems trialled (CiteULike, H20 Playlists, LibraryThing and Bibsonomy) were found wanting in their management of the lists : but then so would the commercial examples...

Thursday, 17 January 2008

New book : Information Literacy Programmes in the Digital Age

Information Literacy Programs in the Digital Age: Educating College and University Students Online edited by Alice Daugherty and Michael F. Russo will be published in time for ALA Midwinter 2008. It will present significant and innovative online instruction programs, describing the development, implementation, and assessment of each of these. It is described as a resource for institutions currently teaching information literacy online, and a guide to those considering doing so.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

White bread for young minds

Wow, what a furore the article reporting that Tara Brabazon, Professor of Media at University of Brighton (and author of "University of Google") which appeared in Times Online seems to have caused! I suspect that she has been somewhat misunderstood, but even so, I do not believe banning the use of Google and Wikipedia by students is the best course.
Now I know you would expect me to say this (!) but its impossible to enforce and more important, it shuts off the huge amount of useful material there and the value of learning how to evaluate the best which can be found there.
Phil Bradley in his blog says it all really.
Information Literacy librarians should not be afraid of students using Google, Scholar or Wikipedia. Our job is to help students use them sensibly, sifting the best content, using them as starting points, and working with academic staff to build assignments which engage and assess student learning that uses the full panoply of resources available. I suspect that we are not far from Tara Brabazon on this really and that she is not proposing a kind of Luddite return to print, but we will have to see when she addresses LILAC 2008 in Liverpool!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Using Google Scholar

This is just one of the videos now on YouTube about using Google Scholar in your library. This recent 6 minute example from USF (University of South Florida) is interesting because it presents the librarian doing a live search and bringing out a lot of points which we may all have experienced in using Scholar. I like the discursive style and the conclusion about using "it as just one more database" which "doesn't do everything," yet "may give you a pleasant surprise" is right on the mark.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Evaluation Wizard tool from IMSA

Just came across a "wizard" page from the IMSA 21st Century Information Fluency project. It provides an interactive form for students to use to evaluate a web page. They identify themselves at the top, then add the web page to be evaluated and then go through a series of ten criteria in the form of questions, to help them assess the credibility of the web resource. Doubtless we may all query the wording and the criteria but the idea looks really interesting and worth trying with a group of students.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Pay Attention!

I've just been watching a really powerful presentation by Darren Draper of Jordan District Schools, Sandy Utah, about 21st century students and the potential of digital learning. Available in a variety of formats, I had to install Quicktime on my browser which then gave me about 8 minutes of slides underpinned by equally powerful piano music by Carly Comando (wish I could compose and play like this - I wouldn't be a librarian any more...she has obviously come across Philip Glass). Some interesting statistics (US) are quoted for school age pupils and then linked to the new technologies (iPods, mobiles etc etc) and the potential for thier educational use. And don't think that this won't have implications for libraries in schools and beyond...

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Is this the Golden Key?

This is an important article :

Gross, Melissa and Latham, Don "Attaining information literacy : an investigation of the relationship between skill level, self-estimates of skill, and library anxiety" Library & Information Science Research (2007) 29 332-353.

The authors describe surveys among a sample of fresher students at Florida State University which analyse student self-assessment of their IL skills, their actual skill level, whether this mismatch is greater among the less IL proficient, and whether there is any correlation with Library anxiety theory. Inevitably the article calls for "more research" and is cautious about generalising the findings beyoind the sample. It is not an easy read unless you are a statistical expert! However, I think it is a very significant article which confirms much of IL theory. For example it demonstrates that those who are less IL proficient are likely to overestimate their IL ability, and that they are likely to still overestimate this even after they have done an ability test ; on library anxiety - there is no correlation between those who have the most anxiety over knowledge about the library and being over-confident about their ability.
What does all this mean? There is a disconnect between secondary education and HE, which means that more could be done to prepare students before they come. There was evidence that most students got very inconsistent IL instruction at K-12 level and were usually regarding themselves as self-taught in terms of IL skills. This contributes to "their faulty sense of skill attainment".Much was picked up from friends or classmates but how good was IL competency?
Most interesting from other studies was the view that the common skills-based didactic cure for low-skilled individuals may not always be successful. This implies a search for new ways to intervene helping students to recognise and overcome their IL deficiencies.
Now we come to the reason why I am blogging about this piece of research : could it be that Web 2.0 can offer ways of reaching these students? Certainly I believe that many of the so-called Web generation students are disadvantaged because they think they know how to find information. Putting it simply - they don't know what they don't know. Librarians lecturing to them is not the answer. Making them aware of what is available is only a part of the equation. Carefully crafted assignments which force them to use a variety of resources, and methods which use active learning to engage them will give librarians an opportunity to use Web 2.0 tools.

Monday, 7 January 2008

FuzzFind and Carrot

Happy New Year! I'm starting with a couple of serach engines which I have seen reeferred to on other blogs. They are worth looking at.
FuzzFind is a metasearch "which combines the power of the leading search engines and social bookmarking sites to make it easier to locate and identify the most relevant information. All results are grouped together and sorted according to the search engine rankings plus the popularity of the sites according to the social bookmarking community". This means Google, Live Search, and Yahoo are searched altogether. results came through fast : try it!
Carrot is an Open Source Search Results Clustering Engine which can automatically organize (cluster) search results into thematic categories. For example you can use it to cluster together search results from Wikipedia or PubMed, or with your own chosen search tool.