Library Interview Report: Research Paper - Library Essay Example

 

I.                  INTRODUCTION

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Library specialists are having problems with getting students to utilize library information systems.  This means that these systems are lying dormant.  Sometimes when systems are not used often, they become stagnant and can be taken away.  Thus, the purpose of this study is to find out why students prefer not to use library information systems.  Another purpose is to determine in what capacities are students utilizing library information systems?

Therefore, six single students and two groups of students were interviewed.  Of course, these students utilize UCI Science Library’s resources.  As a result, they should know about such resources as the library’s computers, the discussion rooms, the ANTPAC research system, the help desk, restrooms, and so forth.  However, interviewing the students created an interesting scenario:  it was determined that these students knew very little about the ANTPAC system and/or did not care to use it for research purposes.

Consequently, the researcher began wondering if students were afraid of their personal information being listed.  To this measure, the author Mason indicated the acronym—PAPA.  It stands for Privacy, Accuracy, Property, and Accessibility.  The main point of the acronym is to find ways to safeguard information, reduce errors, and clarify the differences between public property and personal property so people will not get scammed when trying to access information (Mason 1986, p. 5).  Yet, analysis of data indicated that students were not afraid of their personal information being exposed.  Therefore, it was determined this was not an issue for students failure to utilize UCI Science Library’s information system.  Consequently, a description of library information systems’ problems is in order before this report can proceed.

II.               PROBLEM DESCRIPTION

Problems with library information systems include competing systems that students would rather use than the library’s resources.  Some of these systems include Internet search engines and virtual libraries.  Hanani, Shapira, and Shoval discussed,

An abundant amount of information is created and delivered over electronic media.  Users risk becoming overwhelmed by the flow of information and they lack adequate tools to help them manage the situation.  Information filtering (IF) is one of the methods that is rapidly evolving to manage large information flows.  The aim of IF is to expose users to only information that is relevant to them.  Many IF systems have been developed in recent years for various application domains.  Some examples of filtering applications are: filters for search results on the Internet that are employed in the Internet software, personal e-mail filters based on personal profiles, listeners or newsgroups filters for groups or individuals, browser filters that block non-valuable information, filters designed to give children access them only to suitable pages, filters for e-commerce applications that address products and promotions to potential customers only, and many more…(“Abstract,” 2001 203)

Therefore, a problem for library information systems is that when students decide to use computers for e-mail purposes and other entertainment, it is possible for viruses to come in and spam e-mails to slow down the computers.  As a result, students who are actually using the Internet for coursework have problems loading pages.

Furthermore, another problem with library information systems is that students do not know how to use them.  Yet, students also do not know what resources are available in the library.  Remarkably, Eisenberg and Benkowitz suggested,

A library & information skills curriculum provides the framework form which school library media specialists meet their instructional responsibility to foster lifelong learning in their students.  Library media specialists do this by teaching students to effectively and efficiently meet information needs.  The Big Six Skills approach to library & information skills curriculum accomplishes this purpose.  (“Figure 2:1,” 1990 19)

These six skills include task definition, information seeking strategies, location and access (locate source and find information in source), use of information (utilize resource to gain information), and synthesis (collate a wide variety of information together).

Presented information basically indicates that too much content/data to digest is a problem for library information systems.  It also indicates that students’ lack of knowledge for library information systems/library resources is another problem.  Hence, it is critical that this research analysis finds whether or not these issues exist within the UCI Science Library.

 

III.           RESEARCH SETTING

The investigative methods used in this report include the library interview and survey.  In addition, a third technique of researching the Internet for peer-reviewed and scholarly articles was conducted.  The main source utilized via the Internet was Google Scholar Search. Very essential information was obtained through this method.  As a result, this examination is supported by verifiable and credible evidence concerning library information systems and the problems thereof.  Exhibits and/or Tables are also included to support interview analysis.  The analysis of collected data begins by the researcher giving the meaning of the word “library” as well as an in-depth description of the targeted area for this analysis which was UCI Science Library.

 

IV. DESCRIBE THE LIBRARY SETTING

a. Introduction.

Library is a knowledge center where people can go to gather information.  Every school is required to have a library.  However, libraries are very common within many communities located in the United States as well.  The library contains many different, yet valuable, resources which help people to gain information more efficiently.  For example, the ability to check out books, the designated reading areas, and the familiar user-interface utility on computers make the library a comfortable place for studying.  After the Internet was introduced to human beings everyday lives, some library services took a back seat.  Thus, the library’s services are no longer frequently used and many of them have never been noticed.  Consequently, this report is designed to portray students’ true feelings about the library.  The UCI Science Library is used as the subject of study.  Results of this study will show where areas of improvements are needed.

b. Problem Description.

UCI Science Library has many useful functions to help students for researching, studying, printing and accessing the Internet.  Students were interviewed for data collection and analysis.  This information will further explain the question, “Are those functions provided by the library really getting used?”  If not, recommendations will be given that can be implemented to once again make the library an effective and viable tool for students’ success.

c. Research Setting.

The subject for this observation was the UCI Science Library. It is located by the circle which is on the west side of the UCI campus.  The inside of the building is cylindrical.  It is not unusual to see students gather outside of the building to socialize and to relax during their study break.  There is an independent study center located in the basement of the building.  Consequently, the room is connected to the library.  As a result, every time I walk to the Science Library, I realize there are many students who prefer to stay in the study center.  However, I have no idea why the back door that is connected to the library and the study center is always locked.

While conducting this observation, I realized that the computer section is always out of seats.  Those students who use computers have a different purpose for being in the library.  Some of them connect their walkman’s headphones to the computer and watch videos via the Internet.  Others research information on line for their homework.  There are some who also utilize the computers for instant messaging (ISM) while simultaneously checking their e-mails.

The library is not always a place to study, as my observations of students have proven.  In fact, some students often lay on the desks to take a nap.  Yet, most students do study at the study center which is located on the second floor.  They are usually separated and off to themselves.  It is not uncommon to see an eight seats’ table occupied by only two students.

In fact, more group studies take place on the third floor in comparison to the lower two levels.  Those students normally bring their own computers and work on the research with their friends.  Sometimes a similarity is made between the study center and discussion rooms.  The main reason is because the discussion rooms are more flexible for talking with friends and enable students to focus their minds on studying.

During my observation, I seldom saw someone use the school’s research system, ANTPAC, to gather information that student’s need.  Instead, most of them utilized Google and other related search engines.  Therefore, this report will concentrate on what students usually do on the Internet.  In this report, I will also indicate the main reason why most students choose not to use ANTPAC.  Furthermore, an in-depth assessment will be given as to whether or not students really know the valuable resources and tools available to them in the library.

d. Methods.

Six single students and two groups of students were randomly selected for this reflection of the library.  In addition, simple surveying was done to question students on whether or not they use UCI’s educational research system, ANTPAC.  This analysis was done just to get an understanding of how the students perceive the system and as a result, how they choose to use it.  Results of this information were both surprising and expected.

e. Results.

Findings show that most students only go to the library to study or use the Internet.  Students rarely use the library’s computers for their own projects and research.  The main reason is that it is easier and more flexible for them to do coursework at home.  As a result, this means that many students utilize the library for entertainment purposes versus educational ones.  This may create problems in the future for both administration and students alike.  Consequently, it is imperative to understand why students utilize the library for studying at certain times and why these same students would rather study elsewhere at other times.  This requires analysis of students’ studying habits, preferences, and needs.  Why do many students enjoy studying alone?  How does this affect the outcome of this analysis?  These questions and more are answered in the following section.

 

V.               RESULTS

During the interviews, it was determined that most students who study alone do not want to be bothered.  Moreover, this meant that only a few of them agreed to participate for the interviews.  Thus, it was decided that the analysis would be of 6 single people and 2 groups from the discussion room.  Originally, the interview was to be about 8 single people.  By single, the researcher means students who study alone versus those who study with partners.

According to the collected data, students spend an average of approximately 5 hours each day on the Internet for many different purposes.  Some of the purposes include checking e-mail, studying online, gaming, etc.  Also, it was determined that students are more likely to use the library’s computers if they have free time before their next class.

Exhibit 1: Studying vs. Internet usage

Based upon the information presented in all eight surveys, the library is utilized by these students 59% (177.5 total hours used by students) of the time for Internet purposes and only 41% (121 total hours used by students) of the time for studying.  This information suggests that many students go to the library for entertainment and relaxation versus going there to study and make good grades.  As a result, it is important to determine what other library resources can be utilized for educational purposes.  The ANTPAC system is one such resource.

For the computer research system, ANTPAC, it was determined that students rarely utilize this service.  Due to this factor, 20 students were surveyed to determine if they understood the benefits that ANTPAC has to offer.  Only two students used ANTPAC due to coursework, twelve students did not know the system even existed and seventeen of them preferred to use Google Scholar versus ANTPAC.

The discussion room was another hot topic of debate.  It is the most popular resource in the Science Library and is probably the second most useful resource after the library’s computers.  Students prefer to participate in a study group, but it’s not limited to the discussion rooms.  A portion of the surveyed students mentioned that learning efficiency is better if studying as a group.  This is due to the fact that the motivation is stronger when someone else studies with these individuals.  Some students prefer to study in restaurants such as Denny’s, In & Out, etc.  This is done to acquire the flexibility of drinking and eating while studying which is something that cannot be done in the library.

Exhibit 2: ANTPAC vs. Discussion room

Based upon the information presented in the eight surveys, out of 17 total people (including group counts), 82% more (about 14 students made up 3 discussion groups of five students, four students, and three students, respectively) used the discussion room for group projects and group work.  Only 18% total (about 3 students separately) even knew about or used the ANTPAC system for projects and research.  This was some disturbing news.

Significantly, after the interview, it was realized that many students do not know they have access to many useful resources that are supported by UCI Science Library.  Most students only see the library as a place to study.  Thus, it is easier for them to focus because there is a lack of distractions such as temptations (e.g., computer gaming, movies, friends, etc.).  All of the interviewed students also suggested that the school should make a library resource list that details the resources available.  This should be done so students can fully take advantage of these opportunities and so that the resources will not be wasted.  As a result, the exhibit listed below details the amount of library resources utilized by the student’s interviewed.

Exhibit 3: Library Resources

Based upon the given information, printing resources were utilized by four students.  This means that every student that came into the library did not print materials.  Also, it was remarkable to determine that only one student indicated utilizing the library’s drinking fountain.  This suggests that despite all the hours students spend in the library, they either don’t get thirsty or do not consider water to be a resource.  Another interesting factor is that only two of the students mentioned using the information desk (asking a librarian for help, etc.) during their time in the library.

This means that most students know where to find what they need or do not want to bother with administration/staff.  Also, only two students used either the restroom or checked out a book.  This suggests that students do not consider the restroom as a resource or was able to wait until they went elsewhere to relieve themselves.  It also suggests that students do not come to the library to check out books.  Consequently, it is vital to find out how students can be redirected to the benefits of the library’s information system.

 

VI.           DISCUSSION

Bruce (2003) discussed that students should be given Information Literacy which is the Key to Lifelong Learning.  This Information Literacy is made up of five components:  Learning to Learn, Computer Literacy, IT Literacy, Information Skills, and Library Skills.  It is mentioned that students seek information in different ways.  These differences indicate:

·       Students have different ways of approaching information seeking and use.

·       These different ways of approaching information seeking and use correlate with different levels of learning outcome (Bruce 2003, slide 31).

However, students can improve the way they learn by understanding what they are learning and by library specialists assisting students in becoming more effective information users.  This is accomplished by students beginning to understand the ways that students conceive efficient information usage (Bruce 2003, slide 35).

For UCI students, this means becoming familiar with ANTPAC which is one of the UCI Science Library’s resources that many students don’t know about.  Another thing this means is that students must begin coming to the library for purposes other than Internet usage.  There are too many students that rely on the library’s resources for personal reasons rather than academic and/or professional reasons.  So, how can UCI Science Library sparks students’ interests in its resources?

Wilson (1994) may have the answer.  The author wrote,

…the action research strategy gave considerable scope for the creation of conditions in which the [user’s information] requirements could be met.  The collaborative approach which grew up in the course of the Project amounted to a redefinition of the role of the information specialist in relation to this user group.  Instead of the introduction of a range of centralized (and, to the fieldworkers, peripheral) information services based upon traditional library and information work, it proved possible to ‘tailor make’ simple services for people on the basis of their diagnosis of their information problems.  (“User-focused studies,” Wilson 1994)

Is it then possible for UCI Science Library to cater the library’s resources to each individual student’s needs?  The answer is yes.  UCI Science Library can conduct a survey of its own to determine what interests each student have in the library.  It can also hand out valuable information detailing the resources available in the library.  Additionally, the library can give students tours and show them how to work the information.  Classes can also be held in the library that utilizes such resources as the discussion room, ANTPAC, etc.

 

VII.        DESIGN RECOMMENDATIONS

The main recommendation for UCI Science Library is for the library specialists (e.g., librarian, administrative staff, student workers, etc.) to get involved with the students.  Of course this means one-on-one interaction to inform students of the available resources that the library has to offer.  Another recommendation is for the library to create brochures that detail the available resources that the library has to offer.  The brochure should include information on ANTPAC and the benefits the system has to offer as well.  A third recommendation is for the library to have tours in which they show students all the resources and explain to them how to use those resources.  The fourth recommendation is for the school to get involved by scheduling some classes in the library that evolve around the discussion rooms and the ANTPAC system.

Additionally, the instructor can include a scavenger hunt in the course syllabus that forces students to utilize these resources.  Testing of students’ knowledge of the UCI Science Library’s resources can also be administered.  When implemented with careful consideration of students’ personal preferences, academic needs, and professional desires; these recommendations can bring out the best in students.  They can also lead to effective usage of library resources.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Bruce, Christine.  “Seven Faces of Information Literacy:  Towards inviting students into new experiences.”  Faculty of Information Technology QUT (2003):  49 slides.  05 Mar. 2007 <http://crm.hct.ac.ae/events/archive/2003/speakers/bruce.pdf>

Eisenberg, Michael B., and Benkowitz, Robert E.  Information problem-solving:  The big skills approach to library & information skills instruction.  Greenwood:  Praeger.  1990.  05 Mar. 2007 <http://books.google.com/>

Hanani, Uri, Shapira, Bracha, and Shoval, Peretz.  “Information Filtering:  Overview of Issues, Research and Systems.”  User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction Aug 2001. Pub. Springer Netherlands. Vol. 11.3. 203-259. 05 Mar 2007 <http://www.springerlink.com/content/v25874116.1627p61>

Mason, Richard O.  “Four Ethical Issues of the Information Age.”  MIS Quarterly 10.1 (Mar. 1986):  5-12.  05 Mar. 2007 <http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0276-7783%28198603%2910%3A1%3C5%3AFEIOTI%3E2.0.CO%3B2-B&size=LARGE>

Wilson, T.D.  “Information Needs and Uses:  Fifty Years of Progress?”  Journal of Documentation Review (1994).  Ed. B.C. Vickery.  London:  Aslib.  05 Mar. 2007 <http://informationr.net/tdw/publ/papers/1994JDocRev.html>

 

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