Avoiding the cookie-cutter approach in library outreach

A recent paper by Catherine Essinger and Irene Ke updates a  2007 report regarding the efficacy of outreach activity amongst Liaison Librarians at the University of Houston.

The bottom line:  "[F]aculty outreach is similar to other types of relationship building: it requires time to establish trust, respect and appreciation on both sides." 

To continue:  

While librarians adopted many outreach methods, the most effective one appears to be person-to-person contact. In their survey responses, librarians stressed the importance of appearing available and repeatedly reminding the department faculty and administrators of their presence. Successful methods adopted by UH librarians include attending department events and lectures, offering personalized orientation to new faculty members, participating in depart-mental orientations, and hosting office hours in the academic departments’ facilities.

High turnover is a problem in academics, and when a liaison has multiple counterparts over a few years, user engagement can suffer.

If you make it a game, they will make content

A 2009 study (pdf) by Jose Van Dijck and David Nieborg with the title "Wikinomics and its discontents" take a swipe at the economy that intices volunteers to engage in  'mass collaboration' and 'communal creativity' to (the authors argue) do other peoples' work for free. 

They cite a study of regular internet users gauging the amount of content they create online, which found that just more than half are 'inactives,' another one-third are ‘passive spectators’ and only 13 percent are real-life content creators. 

Let's pick up from there: 

The active participation and creation of digital content seems to be much less relevant than the crowds they attract: the homogeneous term ‘users’ is misleading in that it conceals the difference between active and passive involvement or, put differently, between producers and consumers of user-generated content. Manifestos such as Wikinomics and ’We-Think’ make one believe that, since every user is an active, creative contributor, the very idea of‘consumer’ is definitely passé. The term ‘user’ turns out to be a catch-all phrase covering a wide range of behaviour, from merely clicking to blogging and uploading videos. Mass creativity, by and large, is consumptive behaviour by a different name. 

While commercial firms have an uphill road to build online communities, gaming platforms are much more successful at bringing people together.  


Information seeking at Indian medical college

A new study (pdf) from M. Madan Mohan, M. Aravinthan on information seeking behavior at a medical college in India. Some takeaways: 

  • 48.5 percent of respondents admit to going to the library to relax a "large extent" of time. 
  • 52 percent of respondents use a Librarian to gain information "some extent," but more interesting to me, 51.5 percent get information from colleagues a "large extent."