Kia ora! For those of you who don’t know me I’m Rose, the administrator and junior researcher for the IL Spaces team. I wrote a blog post when I first started in this role, explaining my bourgeoning understanding of information literacy (IL) and the obstacles I faced as a mature student in this new tertiary world of technology and online databases. Since then, my understanding of IL and the implications of teaching these skills (or not teaching them) has grown enormously. This is partly because I am in charge of the team’s social media, so I have spent the last six months Googling far and wide, posting an array of articles, memes, and quotes about the various aspects of our project, most of which are linked to teacher-librarian collaboration and how awesome librarians and libraries are (although my favourite may still be of Beyoncé ‘if you liked it then you should have put a citation on it’). I feel really lucky to be in both camps, researcher and student; it is from this vantage point that I can see how essential IL is AND relate what we are trying to achieve in this project with the current information climate in tertiary education.
Throughout the year I have attended a couple of workshops at the library, one of which drew my attention to the beauty and wonder that is EndNote. The days of tearing my hair out over referencing are no longer! When I went along to EndNote 101 at the library, I had only a very basic understanding of what EndNote is capable of. Several of my lecturers had mentioned Endnote throughout the year, but for some reason their advice kept going into the ‘some day I’ll look into that’ basket. Now that I know what Endnote can do, it has revolutionised my assignment-writing experience; I now have a very active and ever-expanding EndNote library. During the workshop I nearly laughed out loud when another student, who seemed nearly in tears (which I attributed to a mixture of anguish and delight), said ‘this workshop should be COMPULSORY!’ and, ‘it’s scary how much time I have wasted on this!’ I felt like that too, why wasn’t I taught about this amazing tool when I first started studying?! After the workshop I immediately posted on my class’s Facebook page – you MUST go and do this workshop if you aren’t using referencing software!! Since then several people from my classes have thanked me for drawing their attention to EndNote; they, like me, had not realised how awesome and timesaving it is.
I have also been lucky enough to have a lecturer who invited our subject librarian along to speak to the class about relevant library services. During this session, the librarian introduced the SAGE Research Methods database. While I have not yet had time to explore this in depth (and suspect what I am aware of is merely the tip of the iceberg), I am very excited by the ‘Project Planner’ function. It provides step-by-step instructions for all the questions and tasks that need to be thought through before undertaking a research project, starting from as basic as ‘why do research?’ through to ethics and data collection, the writing process, and even how to disseminate research across social media. As someone who is going to be tackling their master’s thesis next year, I see a lot of potential for this tool. Another great feature of this session was putting a face to the subject librarian who specialises in my field. I now know who she is, how to contact her, and what she is able to support me with. She also explained the interloan system, which I have since used. I had thought we were limited to what the library owned or subscribed to, but no! They can get almost any article my heart desires, often within a matter of hours!
I think what is still yet to be developed in higher education is a clear pathway between students and the library; it seems to me that making that link falls down to individual lecturers and whether they deem these services valuable to promote to students. I would love to see ALL lecturers take on the role of disseminating library news and services, and not just suggesting but insisting on the use of software like EndNote. The library at my university does a great job with social media, but how can we bridge this gap even more so that students are not only aware of library services that are available to them, but are using them? We need to get to a place whereby the library is seen as a hub for developing information literacy skills, conducting research, and accessing all of the online tools, software and databases that support us all to learn, discover, and excel.
Project Coordinator and Junior Researcher, Massey University