Information and the Future

This is the blog of the Information and the Future task force of the Rolfing Library at Trinity International University. The IF task force exists to explore the role of libraries in the future of Christian higher education.

Friday, September 29, 2006

9/29/06 Meeting - College Students Perceptions of Libraries

Minutes of 9/29/06 Meeting
College Students Perceptions of Libraries

I. Announcements
A. The meeting schedule is now on the blog.

B. In October, we are planning to have a panel discussion with TIU students. 2 graduate and 2 undergraduate students will be invited, preferrably ones who are well-networked, so they can speak not only for themselves but for their peers. It was decided that $10-15 would be given as reimbursement for these students. We will also possibly video tape students beforehand to get a variety of perspectives on certain questions. By next Friday (Oct. 7) everyone should submit 2-3 questions. A task force of Rebekah, Everett and Matt will review the questions and decide which should be included.

C. In November, there will be discussion of the book Gutenberg Elegies: the Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age by Sven Birkerts.

D. A lecture on Nov. 1 on campus by Quentin Schultze on "Using Technology Wisely in Our Lives, Work and Churches." Would we like to try and do something in conjunction with this lecture? We would like to see if Schultze can come to a meeting with us, so we'll contact him about his schedule. Gail and Matt will look into this more.

II. OCLC Report
What got your attention in this report?
  • 89% start with search engine, 2% with library website
  • Students assume the library website is not good, or don't know the library has a website
  • Like the convenience of search engines, and assume library is difficult - along with assuming they know everything about it
  • Want things fast
  • Students want large, federated search engines, but they don't like Google Scholar, because they have to pay or do more searching to find it. They want free full-text.
  • There were contradictions in what students wanted: want both access & longer circulation periods, more books and better facilities, want more librarians to help but they don't use the librarians and think they're stuck up, idea that libraries are free vs. the fact that they actually pay for it.
  • We should get things to show up in Google with a link resolver. We don't have to think of our relationship with search engines as competitive, but cooperative.
  • Students rely on themselves to judge if something's valid. If that's so, how are they ever going to hear an outside opinion. Is it our role to educate them, push them in a different direction, and provide a diversity of perspectives? It depends on what they're asking for - if they have a simple question, answer that. If they want more help with the search and evaluation process, you can guide them in that way.
  • We should build different levels of competence. Doctoral students will need more expertise with the databases, whereas with freshmen we just want them to see it's there and use it.

What do we want our "brand" to be on campus?

  • The myTrinity brand moved from books to the "world of information."
  • Maybe we should resist branding because it is part of our marketing / consumeristic culture. Is that the way we want to be thought of? (Look at "The McDonaldization of Libraries" in College and Research Libraries.) But it could be inevitable, since we do live in a capitalistic culture.
  • Some public libraries have done a good job of increasing conception that libraries are more than just books - they also have movies and CDs.
  • How does having a different conception of libraries change what people will expect? They would know that there are online databases to use, and that they can use the library website from outside the library.
  • Some students might have broader needs. Seminary students can't do their research online.
  • People often just want the answer, and get upset if we try to give them more. But we can use this desire to provide students with the best resources possible.
  • Shape the marketing of ourselves, to improve the image of librarians as not nice. Make it more friendly. "Service is our brand." Do a better job of convincing people we are there to help them. For example, signs that say "Bother me." The library desk can be intimidating - take of the top part.
  • Listen to what patrons want and get their input. Do more surveys. Have a suggestion box on the website, and post people's questions and the answers. Have a public way for students to recommend books.

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