There’s a Class for That!

People often ask what academic librarians do nowadays.Book Final

After all, everything is available online and students can simply Google anything they need, right? Well, evidently not. Demand for library instruction is growing, and surveys indicate both students and faculty value the help they receive from UofL Libraries.

During the 2013-2014 academic year, librarians in Ekstrom Library’s reference department taught 255 class sessions involving 5030 students. While almost half were introductory level classes in English, Communication, Campus Culture, and the like, about a third were associated with upper level classes in Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, Engineering, and Social Work. The remainder involved graduate students in the same colleges. A few students may have attended more than one class, but generally there is little overlap. We estimate that in a single school year roughly 40% of UofL underclassmen and about 20% of upperclassmen and graduate students participate in at least one class session led by a librarian.

Over the past two years, the number of students attending library class sessions has increased by 34% and the number of sessions has increased 16%. The largest gain has been in upper level undergraduate classes, particularly in Arts & Sciences and Social Work. Our librarians now work with more than 70 professors to tailor class sessions and/or research guides to specific upper level and graduate classes.

Sessions Graph2

Last academic year reference department librarians also met with over 225 students and faculty in scheduled research appointments involving 1 to 5 people. Unfortunately we only have comparable statistics for the last nine months of the 2011-2012 school year, but they show that research appointments have increased by about 56% over the past two years.

We believe the growing number of requests is the best indication that professors and students think library sessions are good investments of their time. This is supported by several recent assessments. In UofL Libraries Spring 2014 tracking study, almost two-thirds of undergraduates and about three-quarters of graduate students and faculty who responded to a class instruction question said they were very or somewhat satisfied with classes at Ekstrom Library. Similarly, 72-84% said they were very/somewhat satisfied with “research assistance from a librarian.”

Tracking Study Graphs

Earlier this year our Information Literacy group also sent an assessment survey to professors and instructors who scheduled classes with librarians in Fall 2013 or Spring 2014. Seventy-two percent of respondents rated “the overall quality of the library and research sessions offered at Ekstrom Library” as excellent on a five-point poor to excellent scale. In addition, 75% strongly agreed that “the library session was relevant to my students’ needs.”

So even in a world where students have the Internet in their pockets and backpacks, and are able to access ebooks, online databases, and countless facts with their fingertips, both students and faculty appear to appreciate the role librarians can play in helping them locate, evaluate, and effectively use information in college level research. If you would like to schedule a library class session, please contact your subject specialist, call Josh Whitacre at 852-8699, or complete our class request form.  If you want to schedule a research appointment, please submit your request here.



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