CHAPTER THREE LITERATURE REVIEW SUBJECT LIBRARIANSHIP 1995-PRESENT DAY
As shown in Chapter Two, the history of subject librarianship has been affected by constant changes in the educational, social, economic and other areas of life. In phase 4, which is discussed in greater detail in this chapter, the changes in the profession increased significantly, mainly because of the further development of applications like the Internet and the World Wide Web, which made sure that information kept multiplying (McIlroy 2009:5). Citing a website hosted by the regent of the University of California, Houdyshell (2003) wrote that it had been estimated that the Internet was growing by 7.3 million pages a day, thus making it harder to separate the good information from the bad. Therefore, although the new applications allowed students to study and work anywhere in the world (Altbach 2004), the sheer volume of information that resulted from their introduction also nurtured a fear in them that while they waded through it, they might miss something of crucial important to their work, studies or daily lives.
PHASE 4: 1995-PRESENT: MODERN PHASE (REINTERMEDIATION)
Globalisation, which was another result of the internet and the World Wide Web (Altbach 2004:3), was described by the Cambridge Dictionary Online (2011), as a process whereby “available goods and services, or social and cultural influences, gradually become similar in all parts of the world”. Globalisation, in its turn, was responsible for the birth of the concept of a ‘knowledge economy’, whose premise was that “information and knowledge are at the centre of economic growth and development” (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD] 2001). It also fuelled other economic, scientific, technological, political and cultural trends and advances (Altbach 2004:3), all of which resulted in information resources increasing almost uncontrollably, from different sources and in different formats; and they could be accessed in many different ways, some of which were beyond the library’s control (ALA 2006a).
Since libraries could not acquire the many available sources, they had to shift their focus, from the traditional practice of ownership, to the modern practice of access (Feetham 2006:4).
Globalisation, in the academic world, was responsible for the introduction of more modern methods of teaching and learning. It resulted in students becoming active learners by, for example, participating in group work and content creation, in the form of articles posted in student journals, and presentations given at student workshops or conferences (Brewerton 2012:97). It also gave rise to student-centred problem-based learning (PBL), whereby students were expected to solve “real-world problems”, using “independent learning and information gathering” (Kiran 2004). However, some students were not able to operate in the new information environment without assistance.
Meanwhile, in this age of globalisation, universities accepted an expanded mandate to create a society whose citizens would develop to their fullest capacity and, who would have at their disposal “the skills and knowledge to thrive in the increasingly competitive world economy” (Brophy 2005:22). However, when they realised the problems faced by students because of the over-abundance of information, they began espousing information literacy training, as it would ensure that students left the institution as information literate graduates, who had the skills to realise when they needed information, and who also had the ability to search for, locate, retrieve evaluate and ethically use that information, no matter which location/s or source/s it came from and which medium it came in (ALA 2001). As information literate individuals, they would also be more likely to develop an interest in lifelong learning, which can be described as an on-going programme or activity, that allows practitioners to continue to independently acquire knowledge, learning, competencies and skills, formally or informally, regardless of age (Reitz 2004-2013; Häggström 2004), and which would help them to think critically, to solve problems, to make decisions and to successfully plan for their future, at home and at work.
To help them to pass on information literacy skills to their students, and to familiarise them with the new information environment, universities turned to their academic libraries. Since libraries had always provided information reference services and carried out user education, libraries just looked to their staff, particularly to subject staff, to ‘seize the day’, re-engineer their roles, and offer new and/or enhanced services to their users. Although user education was well established in libraries, it now became known as information literacy instruction/training or information skilling, thus reflecting a new era, which demanded the empowerment and transformation of users into independent finders of information. If the library succeeded in this and all its other new goals, its value would be reinforced and it would be difficult for information users to imagine the institution operating successfully without it (Follett 1993: Point 4).
Status of subject librarians from 1995
Subject librarians, by the nature of their job, were in a prime position to observe students when the internet and web were first discovered; starting with their initial excitement at the development of technologies that allowed them to search for information on their own and at their own pace, and then moving on to their gradual panic as information increased at a frightening rate. Like their faculty colleagues, they observed students becoming more and more unsure about: the requirements of assignments, the steps they were supposed to take as part of the research process, the print and/or online sources they were expected to consult, the difference between the search engines and subscription databases, the difference between full-text and index/abstract databases, and the methods of accessing the full text of documents cited in index or abstract-type databases (Houdyshell 2003:77). Proactive subject librarians took student confusion as their cue to obtain the skills students did not have, and to use these to provide a more enhanced teaching, learning and research support service, and to provide information literacy instruction. They made sure that information users realised that they were their greatest allies in the information search and retrieval process.
The flexibility of subject librarians and other library intermediaries allowed them to “respond effectively to changing technologies, systems and expectations” (Pinfield 2001:3-4) and to continue to be viewed as information gatekeepers, or “ambassadors” in their areas of specialisation (Gray 2009:298). Their talents, which included detailed subject knowledge and people, pedagogic, and communication skills, continued to be viewed as crucial (Feldman 2006:1), and their value to the university library continued to grow (Rodwell 2001:52), thus the re-intermediation period began (Sturges 2001). A Delphi study by Feret and Marcinek (1999:97) even predicted that with this new phase and with the new functions required of the library, by the year 2005, subject librarians would form the largest grouping of library staff at 31%, while a smaller percentage of the rest of the staff would be employed, for example, 18% circulation/help desk staff, 16% acquisitions or cataloguing staff, 16% technicians, 10% library managers and 9% other categories of staff. A survey of various library websites showed that, in some university libraries, including those in Africa, subject librarians did form the largest percentage of professional librarians employed.
It must be mentioned however, that in some universities, for example in the UK, subject librarian services took a while to regain their value, and in some cases, they had even lost their jobs or suffered financially in a different way. Smith (2007:3) reported that, at the University of Leeds, three long-serving subject librarians had their salaries cut as part of a re-grading and re-structuring exercise, and that at the University of Staffordshire, the post of senior subject librarians had been downgraded. Meanwhile, Chillingworth (2005:9-10) wrote that, at the University of Wales in Bangor, management had decided that the availability of online or electronic resources, which needed “a different kind of support”, meant that they needed less subject staff, therefore, as a cost saving measure, they cut the number of subject staff employed from twelve to four. He added that this was just the beginning, because since then, the UK based Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) had dealt daily with lesser known cases.
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
1.2 CONTEXT OF THE STUDY
1.4 CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK OF THE STUDY
1.5 JUSTIFICATION AND ORIGINALITY
1.6 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
1.7 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
1.8 OUTLINE OF THE CHAPTERS
1.9 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.2 THE ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT
2.3 PHASE 1: PRE-1965: INTRODUCTION OF SUBJECT LIBRARIANSHIP
2.4 PHASE 2: 1965-1980: ESTABLISHMENT AND INTERMEDIATION
2.5 PHASE 3: 1980-1995: DANGER OF DISINTERMEDIATION
2.6 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER THREE: LITERATURE REVIEW
3.2 PHASE 4: 1995-PRESENT: MODERN PHASE AND REINTERMEDIATION
3.3 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER FOUR: METHODOLOGY
4.3 RESEARCH APPROACH
4.4 RESEARCH DESIGN
4.5 THE SURVEY DESIGN
4.6 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
4.7 EVALUATION OF THE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
4.8 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER FIVE – FINDINGS
5.2 BACKGROUND INFORMATION
5.3 ROLES/TITLES OF SUBJECT LIBRARIANS
5.4 LIBRARY ENVIRONMENT
5.5 RESPONSIBILITIES OF SUBJECT LIBRARIANS
5.6 DUTIES RELATED TO EACH KR
5.7 QUALIFICATIONS, SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE
5.8 PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT, STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES
5.9 PERCEPTIONS OF/FUTURE OF SUBJECT LIBRARIANSHIP
5.10 OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE SURVEY
5.11 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER SIX – INTERPRETATION
6.2 LIBRARY ENVIRONMENT
6.3 ROLES AND TITLES OF SUBJECT LIBRARIANS
6.4 JOB DESCRIPTIONS AND KEY RESPONSIBILITY AREAS
6.5 EXPERIENCE, EDUCATION AND SKILLS
6.6 PERCEPTION, STATUS AND FUTURE OF THE PROFESSION
6.7 PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT AND GUIDELINES
6.8 GUIDELINES FOR THE PROFESSION
6.9 CHAPTER SUMMARY
CHAPTER SEVEN – SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
7.2 SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS
7.5 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE STUDIES
7.7 CHAPTER SUMMARY
GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
THE CHANGING ROLES, RESPONSIBILITIES AND SKILLS OF SUBJECT AND LEARNING SUPPORT LIBRARIANS IN UNIVERSITIES IN THE SOUTHERN AFRICAN CUSTOMS UNION (SACU) REGION: GUIDELINES FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A NEW SERVICE