Faculty attitudes toward collaboration with librarians.

Author:Yousef, Atif
Position:Report
 
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Introduction

University libraries play a vital role in supporting their parent institutions to achieve their objectives effectively. Librarians and faculty members are both involved in teaching students how to make use of the information resources available in their campus library. Collaboration between faculty and librarians is essential to enhance students learning and research, and help them develop their information competencies.

A key element of effective collaboration is knowledge of the attitudes of both groups. The literature provides a lot of studies that have been carried out on librarians' attitudes toward collaboration. However, few studies have been conducted on faculty attitudes toward collaboration with the librarians. Having more information about this issue would help us create better understanding of their partnership in supporting the library functions and activities. Hollander et al. (2004) concludes that,

Librarians and teaching faculty have many mutual goals and concerns. Both want students to develop a greater understanding of and respect for books, journals, and other intellectual property. Both want to enhance student literacy, particularly information literacy, and help students become writers, problem solvers, critical thinkers, and self-directed, lifelong learners. Lastly, both want to build the social and learning community on campus.

To best serve the needs of faculty, university librarians need to understand the opinions of these users. On the other hand, faculty members are expected to cooperate with the university librarians in different ways. They can help in selecting relevant information sources. Their opinions about the services provided to them and their students are also appreciated. Librarians and academics are becoming increasingly aware of the need to collaborate in various areas, such as information literacy, collection development and user services. A number of authors, (cf., for example, Knapp, 1956; Feldman and Sciammarella (2000), Rader (2001), Lippincott, 2002; Wijayasundara, 2008) stress the importance of collaboration between academics and librarians.

On the other hand some authors give a negative picture on collaboration between both sides. Hardesty (1995) refers lack of faculty members' collaboration to their culture. He says, "faculty members who hold on to the values of faculty culture (a feeling of lack of time; emphasis on content, professional autonomy and academic freedom; de-emphasis on the applied and the process of learning; and resistance to change) are not interested in "bright ideas" from librarians about bibliographic instruction."

The findings of Christiansen, et al. (2004) confirmed the research done by librarians on the topic of librarian-faculty relations in that, "Librarian-faculty relations have long been a significant component of the profession of librarians. For faculty, however, librarian-faculty relations are of little or no concern." There has been some controversy over whether faculty members perceive collaboration with librarians as necessary or not.

The purpose of this study was to examine the attitudes of faculty members in Zarka Private University toward collaboration with the librarians working in their campus Library. It also intended to determine from the faculty's perspective whether they believe collaboration with the librarians is necessary, and with which areas and types of the library services. The overall profile of faculty members' attitudes toward collaborating with the university library would help in the construction of a clear and solid librarian-faculty partnership.

Background

This study was conducted with teaching faculty at Zarka Private University in Jordan. Zarka Private University (2009) is structured into eight faculties containing a total of 18 departments that are responsible for undergraduate teaching. The eight faculties are: Faculty of Science and Information Technology, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Faculty of Allied Medical Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Shari'a, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Faculty of Law, and Faculty of Nursing. About 6000 undergraduate students joined the eight faculties (at the time of the study) taught by 237 faculty members.

Zarka Private University Library (ZPUL) provides about 61776 printed books and 805 printed journals. Also available are online databases (OCLC, ACM, IEEE, DIALOG, Springer, EBSCO, e-Books (15000). The library provides 79 work stations for accessing electronic library resources. The majority of these PCs are available in three computerized teaching labs. Other materials such as cassettes, Video tapes, CDs, Disks are also available. A number of 24 employees look after the library.

ZPUL usually gives orientation tours and workshops for students and interested users from the local community. Several lectures and workshops are usually given to faculty members in various occasions such as new faculty orientation. Interested faculty members can also attend short presentations given by the University Librarians for their own personal growth. There is usually a faculty member representing his/ her faculty in the Library Committee. He/she acts as a liaison officer between the two sides. Being the chairman of the Library Committee for about seven years, the researcher noticed that some faculty members visited the library frequently, and had good relations with the librarians; while others were rarely seen in the library, and reluctant to liaise with the library on behalf of their faculties. This observation urged the researcher to investigate their attitudes toward collaboration with the librarians.

The Problem

The main purpose of this study was to investigate the attitudes of faculty members of ZPU toward collaboration with the university librarians. This study seeks to provide insight into the following questions:

1- What is the overall profile of faculty members' attitudes toward cooperating with the university librarians?

2- What areas of collaboration are faculty members interested in, and which areas they are not?

3- Is there a difference in the faculty members' attitudes pertinent to gender, academic qualifications, academic rank, type of college, and academic experience?

Significance of the Study

This study is expected to have the following significance regarding the faculty- librarian partnership.

* Understanding attitudes of faculty members toward collaboration with the library is expected to help in building a positive relationship between the two groups; and give a clearer picture for future projects which require the involvement of both parties.

* The study intended to find out some of the factors that might affect this partnership between the two groups. This information may be used to develop positive interaction to enhance the teaching and learning process.

* One of the main purposes of this study was to identify possible future roles for faculty that might enhance collaboration between both parties.

In addition, The results and recommendations of this study are expected to lead to further investigation in this area.

Literature Review

The literature on collaboration between faculty members and librarians or libraries covers a variety of topics, such as, information literacy, collection development, and library services. Effective involvement of faculty members in the teaching-learning process requires understanding of their attitudes toward collaboration with the university librarians.

Some of the studies that covered this topic tackle collaboration between the two sides in general. Ducas and Michaud-Oystryk (2003) for example, conducted a survey at the University of Manitoba to explore librarian-faculty interaction. The study results showed that faculty highly rate the librarians' role in the university and endorse a greater level of interaction. Their study covered five areas of collaboration. The faculty rated them as follows in descending order of importance: information services, collection, information technology, research, and teaching/ instruction. Schulte & Sherwill-Navarro (2009) investigated how nursing faculty defined and perceived collaboration with a librarian in order to quantify anecdotal evidence of their perceptions and gain improved understanding of how librarians can approach future collaborations with nursing faculty. The results of this study seem to indicate that perhaps nursing faculty in this sample are open to these collaborations in spite of their relatively traditional perceptions of librarians.

Other studies covered specific topics that require collaboration between the two parties, such as information literacy, teaching and research, design of courses and curriculum development. Students are in great need of information literacy skills, the teaching of which requires the joint efforts of faculty members and librarians. According to Godwin (2005) "Academic staff are the key to influencing student acceptance of information literacy. Therefore librarians need to concentrate on academic perceptions and interest in information literacy."

In fact, there is a need for studies which...

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