Teaching, Communicating Are Key to Proving Value

Information Outlook, September-October 2012 | Go to article overview

Teaching, Communicating Are Key to Proving Value


Information professionals need to become partners in the teaching and research process and raise awareness of their services at all levels of the organization, according to a project designed to identify ways for academic libraries to demonstrate their value.

The project, based on case studies of eight university libraries in three countries, found that academic librarians typically receive positive feedback about their services but sense that faculty and staff do not take advantage of all the resources the library has to offer. It also found that librarians are struggling to find systematic ways to capture and communicate evidence of their value (rather than their activity) to the academic community and especially students.

The case studies showed that embedded information literacy instruction is highly valued by faculty--who can see first-hand how it improves the quality of the assignments they receive from students--and that such instruction increasingly is being integrated into teaching and curriculum development activities. They also provided evidence of successful partnerships between librarians and research staff in the areas of literature reviewing and data curation.

Communicating the availability and value of these and other library services was also identified as critical to success. Meeting with individual research staff and targeting services to address specific needs was seen as an effective, although time-intensive, method for librarians to raise their profile and value. Ideally, such engagement should be multidimensional--that is, it should take place at all levels of the institution, not just between librarians and departmental liaison staff.

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