Priorities

DeadlineThis blog has “suffered” under my heavy work load this semester. It is not always easy to make the time to write down thoughts and experiences, but I constantly think of new things that I want to blog about. I still think that it is a great way to digest impressions and experiences, and to learn more from the things that I do.

It is all about priotitizing, of course. Making the time. I feel the same way about all my other projects and other work stuff, too. That is why I smiled when I read this blog post by Meredith Farkas. Clearly, setting priorities is an issue for librarians.

I have often asked myself, and collegues, what we should emphasize and who we should prioritize. Should we try to gain access to teachers and try to improve their information skills, and hope that they will somehow transfer some of this know-how to students? Or should we try to reach as many first year students as possible in order to make them as self-reliant as we can so that they can manage their studies better right from the start? Should we focus on the PhD-students seeing as they are our future researchers, and to some degree teachers? We cannot reach them all..

The current strategy has been to try to reach as many as possible, with few other criteria than “they asked for help”. I wouldn`t go as far as saying that it doesn`t help, because I think it does – to those who get help, of course. But it isn`t enough. We need a better strategy to handle 1) the increasing size of the student body and 2) the increasing number of things that librarians are asked to do. As to the first: Since I started working at GUC in 2005, the number of students at this college has more than doubled. We think that this is great, but it also puts pressure on our services. The second: I am very happy that I am more than a curator of books. I don`t think that it would have suited me well to be limited to that. I am a teacher, a tutor, a web master (well, sort of.. for the library, anyway..) and a project participant/administrator. The library has become the place where students ask for help with software, copy/print, and how to structure their academic papers and reports as well as the more traditional referencing and information seeking questions. At times the demand is so great that we struggle help everyone and keep the general services running.

Here are some ideas that I have about setting priorities:

  • I think it`s time to focus on the teachers, espesially those who teach large classes (e.g. nursing students). I will try to get a course up and running as soon as possible, and just hope that those who need it most will turn up/ show interest.
  • I think we should emphazise our video tutorials more. I know that there is some dispute on whether or not this works, but I think the students like to be independent and self-reliant, and the videos can be especially helpful to off-campus students. It is not the answer to every problem, but at least we have somewhere to “send” the students when we have staff shortage or peak times at the library
  • We need to stop thinking that the “digital natives” are able to master all IT related issues themselves. They are not! They may be application savvy, but many are not IT savvy. And quite a few of them have never used their computers for academic work, believe it or not. We need to teach them how to do it.
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