Journal clubbing

The latest paper discussed in our team journal club took a bit of a kicking.

The Library Student Liaison Program at Eastern Washington University: A Model for Student Engagement

This paper covers a project where a student was paid to become a student liaison working directly for the Library.  They worked 15  to 19 hours a week during term time reporting directly to a fairly senior member of Library staff. They were set three main goals – enhance communication with the student body, articulate student perspectives / determine priorities to meet student needs and increase student participation in library programmes.

In common with the paper about the Library street teams (discussed last time) the paper tells us about what they did but falls down on the evaluation.  There are few attempts to address how the programme will be evaluated and where figures are provided they are frequently partial. For example we have no context to claims of an improvement in the affect score on Libqual+.  Changes to enquiry levels are discussed but without absolute figures.

In critical appraisal terms it falls at the first hurdle with a focussed research question lacking.  Like much LIS research we get a case study approach.  Applicability of the model proposed is quite limited locally with a very different institution involved and large sums of money required (at least $5K in pay for student at 2006 prices).  The commitment of staff time to managing the role was also substantial.

On the positive side we can see many of the initiatives that were proposed or introduced correspond to work we have in place or under consideration / development.  It also prompted lots of discussion of various paths for student engagement and ways to gain the student perspective.

So not a paper to change our practice but plenty to stimulate debate (and a nice blast from the past with them proudly reporting making 192 friends on MySpace).

In the journal club

Yesterday was the last of a trial series of journal clubs at work.

These were intitiated (myself and Lynne Meehan plotted them over coffee) to provide a forum where the then Research and Learning Liaison team could examine their practice, consider the research base, learn more about research methods and generally carry out some useful CPD. While a number of participants were familiar with the concept of Journal Clubs most had not participated before.  We drew on this handy guide to running a successful journal club. (you can see our introductory Journal Club discussion if you like).

During the year we aimed to meet on alternate months and generally had around half the team in attendance.  The September session was (slightly predictably) cancelled due to competing commitments that month.

We looked at the following:

February – A report “New roles for new times: transforming liaison roles in research libraries” from the Association of Research Libraries.

May –  Evaluating the Impact of Academic Liaison Librarians on Their User Community: A Review and Case Study Louise Cooke, Michael Norris, Nial Busby, Thomas Page, Ginny Franklin, Elizabeth Gadd, Helen Young New Review of Academic Librarianship Vol. 17, Iss. 1, 2011

July – Creating information literacy partnerships in Higher Education Clare Joanne McCluskey Library and Information Research Vol 35, No 111 (2011)

September (cancelled but paper had been picked) – Mirna E. Turcios, Naresh Kumar Agarwal, Linda Watkins, How Much of Library and Information Science Literature Qualifies as Research?, The Journal of Academic Librarianship

November – Michael M. Smith, Leslie J. Reynolds, (2008) “The street team: An unconventional peer program for undergraduates”, Library Management, Vol. 29 Iss: 3, pp.145 – 158

The papers provided plenty of grist for the mill with an hour of wide ranging conversation each time. I do not propose to dredge my memory for the earlier ones but would recommend the new roles paper and suggest not worrying too much about the one on how much of the LIS literature qualifies as research (answer – not a lot).

The street team paper yesterday was a disappointment.  I selected it quite quickly as it spoke to a lot of our current interests.  Sadly the paper is big on describing what they are planning to do but predates them actually going live (there are signs of them having done so). I had hoped that it would be less descriptive and more about impact and what worked. For all that I was interested to see the thoroughness with which they planned for the recruitment and training of those who would be involved.

We debated to what extent this model depended on factors in the US academic library environment (like high levels of student employment in the Library) and possibly also the business students targeted. We generated some interesting ideas for how we might work more closely with students in the UK. The example of the NHS Evidence Student Champions was used as one model that has seen participation from our students already with benefits in terms of promotion, engagement and peer to peer learning. I think Journal Clubs are a great form of CPD.

Are others engaged in doing this face to face?  Or online (I am aware of the Library Leadership Reading Group for example).  Now that all CILIP HLG members get HILJ as part of their benefits I wonder what might be done using this on a quarterly basis?