Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Find it Fast: Enticing Faculty to Library Instruction Workshops This article is by Allison V. Level and Catherine L. Cranston both of whom at are at Colorado State University. Allison is the agricultural reference librarian and provides instruction for the agricultural and natural sciences. She has an MLS from Emporia State University and an MEd in Higher Education from Kent State. Catherine is an instruction librarian. She has an MA in Library Science from the University of Iowa. She coordinates instruction for the English composition classes and the honors program.

From the site:


It is often difficult to engage academic faculty and staff to attend workshops about changing library technologies and resources. This article discusses a successful program, “Find it Fast: Research Tips for People in a Hurry.” This instruction program targeted academic faculty and staff who were not aware of new online journals, databases, and computer linking services such as SFX. “Find it Fast” outlined advanced Web searching skills, ways to maximize your research time, and new library services. Recruitment, evaluation results, and the fit with overall outreach efforts is discussed.


The information and research environments of academic faculty and staff are continually changing. Library technologies and resources also change, but it can be difficult to get faculty and staff to explore and expand their comfortable research environments through the new resources and services available. People know what it is like to search Google and get 400,000 hits for things they do not care about. What they want to know is how to focus and get 40 hits for the things they need. In this article the authors describe a professional development workshop that became a springboard for recruiting faculty and staff to attend research workshops in an academic library.

The popular and well-attended Professional Development Institute (PDI) has been in place for twenty-four years at Colorado State University (CSU). The PDI program is sponsored by the Office of Instructional Services. Faculty and staff are encouraged to present programs on topical areas including teaching and learning, technology in the classroom, personal and professional development, advising, outreach and service, or administrative issues. The programs are scheduled on-campus for early January, between semesters, each year. Attendees include administrators, faculty, staff, and graduate assistants. In Fall 2002, the CSU Libraries launched new services, online journals, and a redesigned website. Capitalizing on new resources, a campus-wide well established PDI model, and the desire to “do more with less,” two reference and instruction librarians decided to offer a PDI workshop that would play to a diverse audience.

The CSU Libraries has offered several different workshops geared towards faculty and staff over the past five years. One of the early programs, “Fast, Free, Easy” was popular and had good turnout. Since then, with a few exceptions, the turnout has decreased. Recent programs structured around new databases or resources such as Web of Science or SFX have been popular. Other libraries have reported similar experiences. In Mosley’s (1998) article about experiences at Texas A&M she reported, “Faculty participation at electronic database instructional sessions held in the library had a history of being erratic, and there were concerns with regard to attracting busy faculty members to attend the workshop” (34).

Workshops can be a balancing act between offering instruction sessions to educate faculty, while not portraying them as out of touch with the latest resources. As Cunningham (2002) points out, "…faculty may perceive information literacy training as remedial for them and their students, so care should be taken to approach collaboration as an opportunity for mutual benefit and "keeping the saw sharp" rather than remediation for anyone" (346).

No comments: