May 12, 2008 Meeting
User Education Committee
University of Illinois Library
May 12, 2008
- Melody Allison
- Susan Avery
- Paula Carns
- Merinda Hensley
- Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe
- Lori Mestre
- Emily Love
- Nathan Yarasavage
- Karen Hogenboom
- Ellen Swain
- Nikki Wright
- Bernice Harrington
- Robert Slater - Web Content Coordinator
- Melissa Bowles-Terry (Reference Library Instruction GA)
1. Remaining Meetings for 2007-2008 (All in Library 428)
- June 9, 10-11
- July 14, 10-11
- August 11, 10-11
2. CLIR Faculty Research Behavior Workshop (Robert Slater)
Robert attended a CLIR workshop on conducting ethnographical research to
understand faculty research behavior (along with JoAnn Jacoby from the Education and Social Science
Library) and reported to the committee on what he learned.The CLIR workshop focused on teaching
participants to do ethnographic research on library users - specifically on how to be better
observers of faculty users. This type of study would be very useful for an organization or group
charged with redesigning a library's physical or virtual space in order to make it more usable.One
of the main points of the exercises at the workshop was that even if we think we have a good
understanding of what our users do/need, some things they do become completely invisible to us
because we see it every day. Workshop participants practiced observing without interpreting - all
analysis took place after a period of observation.Robert reported on the following experience:
- Participants conducted ethnographic research by going into a place where users were working,
and taking notes on what they were doing. (Participants observed users in high-traffic areas -
computer lab, café, food court, university bookstore.)
- Participants wrote down everything: what the physical space was like, what tools were
available, what people were doing (spent one hour observing, one hour analyzing).
- Participants were quick to jump to pre-conceived notions about what users were doing -
"working" on a computer, when really they may have been instant messaging or Facebooking.
- Participants also conducted faculty interviews: trying to get faculty member to show and tell
how they do library research. They spent 30 minutes interviewing a faculty member - the point of
the interview was for faculty to pull out research tools and show the interviewers how they conduct
research. It turns out that faculty are great at talking about what they do, but don't SHOW what
they do without prompting.
Ethnographic research has benefits for almost any project, but takes a
great deal of time; however, putting in that front-end time can save time later in the creation of
services, spaces, and web resources. You'll end up with something users actually NEED and will
use.The way that we usually plan for services, spaces, and resources is to sit down with a
committee tasked with a specific project. We ought to take a step back and consider user needs,
etc., before starting on that specific project. The teams should include an anthropologist or a
market researcher to draw up non-leading questions. Need about 20-25 users for interviews. Single
interviewer and single camera-person. Video and voice recording is important. Screen captures can
help, too. Have one person free from technology to do interview. No note-taking or analysis during
interview - analysis takes place later. Group-view the video - so that personal biases don't come
out as much. Watch videos together and discuss. Spend days farming out videos for individual
responses. Most important things learned about faculty research habits:
- Faculty don't consider "reading the literature" research. "Research" means something more
hands-on, creating new knowledge, etc.
- Their methods of research would make librarians shudder - started with Google, not library
homepage, catalog, or resource. Used Amazon often - for user reviews (community of reviews rather
than professional reviews). The library is the 2nd or 3rd stop for most faculty users.
- Found keyword searching in library catalog is useless - only use catalog for known items.
Failure of system - inflexible searching
- Usually looking for author that they already know - learn about new authors through colleagues
or through authors they already read - and are cited.
- Use teaching/research assistants to find and print stuff about new terms, ideas, and authors.
(Then they print articles, read them, and throw them away - assuming that something that is
available will always be available from the library.)
Let's move beyond anecdotal research! That type of observation tends to
reinforce our own biases.
3. Unit Report on Student Learning Assessment
A draft of the unit plan for assessing and improving student learning was
handed out to the committee by Lisa. (N.B. It was an incomplete draft - not complete.) Not all
examples that were submitted will be used. Committee members made some suggestions for revisions
and additions.The format of the document is problematic so it has been adapted to work for library
use.We brainstormed this question: What future plans do we have for developing assessment over the
- Susan is being nominated to take part in Institute for Information Literacy Assessment Program
(Immersion) in December.
- We could hold workshops for librarians on conducting and using assessment tools. Develop best
practices, start small, and show library faculty that they're already doing assessment and help
them use the results.
- Purchase clickers - for in-class use - to assess student learning on-site.
- Understand what faculty are doing and what expectations are for students.
- Outreach to our faculty - attend faculty meetings.
4. Working Group Update -- LibGuides
- LibGuides gave us a 6-month subscription for a separate site specifically for staff straining.
Beth Woodard and Sarah Thompson are working on that project this summer and starting with an
overview of staff training and human resource issues.
- Materials (like customer service, dealing with problem patrons, etc.) could be available there
-- not just on G drive.
- Book lists will be made available on LibGuides -- management/staff training books.
- Merinda is planning some training workshops on how to use LibGuides and create subject guides
in LibGuides that are not just a bibliography of sources, but that engage the user.
- Merinda is also looking into getting phantom links in LibGuides to all of the subject guides
that currently exist on the library server. This will provide a way to manage access to all subject
- Modern Languages and Linguistics, Education and Social Science, and Business and Economics
libraries are in the process of converting subject guides to LibGuides.