Involvement in Bibliographic Instruction among Technical Service Librarians in Missouri Academic Libraries

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Involvement in Bibliographic Instruction among Technical Services Librarians in Missouri Academic Libraries


A great deal of professional attention is being paid to the concept of bibliographic instruction. The literature reveals studies that focus on the various forms bibliographic instruction may take, scenarios for its systematic implementation, and tools for measuring its effectiveness. Studies that place bibliographic instruction within a more holistic framework, specifically those which examine the pros and cons of involvement by technical services librarians in public services activities, are far fewer in number.

Although academic librarians may not view bibliographic instruction universally as the exclusive province of public services/reference librarians, the reader is no doubt familiar with some of the arguments, rationalizations, and generalizations often advanced by both public and technical services librarians regarding this issue. Our purpose in conducting this survey was to determine the degree of involvement of technical services librarians in bibliographic instruction in selected Missouri academic libraries, the extent of compensation by public services librarians in technical services activities, and the opinions of members of both divisions toward such activities.


In the fall of 1987 a questionnaire was prepared and sent to technical services and public services librarians in thirty-two academic libraries in Missouri. The survey had two parts. Part I was to be completed by the person designated as the technical services coordinator for that particular institution. This part of the questionnaire was designed to elicit factual information, especially numeric data regarding technical services staff size, degree and kind of involvement in bibliographic instruction, and the extent of reciprocal involvement by public services librarians in technical services operations.

Part II of the survey consisted of three pages of questions soliciting opinions from the technical services coordinator and other technical services librarians as well as the person designated as the coordinator of public services. The questions pertained to the involvement of technical services librarians in bibliographic instruction.

Questionnaires were sent only to those Missouri academic libraries with at least one professional librarian serving full time in a technical services position. Packets were mailed to the person designated as coordinator of technical services, who had agreed in advance over the phone to distribute Part II of the questionnaires to all technical services librarians and the public services coordinator.


Twenty-five (78%) of the 32 Missouri academic libraries participated in the survey. The libraries had 61 full-time and 3 half-time positions currently filled by technical services librarians. The greatest number employed by any one library was 11, and 12 libraries employed only one technical services librarian.

Eight of the 25 libraries engaged technical services librarians in some form of bibliographic instruction, although the perceived definition of bibliographic instruction varied from respondent to respondent. (For example, some respondents apparently do not consider activity at the public services desk to be bibliographic instruction.)

The largest number of technical services librarians was involved in working the public services area/reference desk in the evenings and on weekends. This type of involvement is limited to one or two people and varies from one to twenty hours per week.

Use of the Library classes are offered in 14 of the institutions surveyed; however, only one technical services librarian was involved in teaching them. Four institutions reported technical services librarians teaching library science courses other than the Use of the Library class, such as Cataloging and Classification, Resources in Religion and the Humanities, Reference, Administration, Book Selection, History of Books and Printing, Children's Literature, and Freshman Composition. …


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