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Linda Lowry (B.Com MLS MA) Business & Economics Librarian PowerPoint Presentation
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Linda Lowry (B.Com MLS MA) Business & Economics Librarian

Linda Lowry (B.Com MLS MA) Business & Economics Librarian

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Linda Lowry (B.Com MLS MA) Business & Economics Librarian

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  1. Communities of Practice for Subject Librarians: Making Connections across the Profession to Enhance Interaction and Knowledge Sharing Linda Lowry (B.Com MLS MA) Business & Economics Librarian James A. Gibson Library, Brock University St. Catharines, ON OLA Super Conference 2006

  2. Presentation Outline • What is a Subject (Specialist) Librarian? • What are Communities of Practice? • Purpose of Study & Methodology • Phase One Results: Background, Workplace, CPE & Professional Communication • Phase Two Results: Socialization and Information Seeking • Applying the Framework of Communities of Practice • Distributed Communities of Practice for Subject Librarians OLA Super Conference 2006

  3. What is a Subject (Specialist) Librarian? “A librarian qualified by virtue of specialized knowledge and experience to select materials and provide bibliographic instruction and reference services to users in a specific subject area or academic discipline (or subdiscipline). In academic libraries, subject specialists often hold a second master's degree in their field of specialization. Also refers to a librarian trained in subject analysis”. Reitz, Joan M. (2004). Subject specialist. In ODLIS: Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science. Retrieved December 12, 2005 from: OLA Super Conference 2006

  4. Business Science & Engineering Humanities Social Sciences Medical Legal Subject Librarians: Examples from Academic Librarianship • Centralized Libraries or Branch/Divisional Libraries • Sole Responsibility or Shared Responsibility • Separate Branch Libraries • Shared Responsibility OLA Super Conference 2006

  5. Academic Business Librarians • Accidental business librarians • Few (15-20%) have an academic background in Business • Some may have corporate library experience • Varied organizational models • Branch vs. centralized • Roles & responsibilities • Sole vs. shared OLA Super Conference 2006

  6. What are Communities of Practice? • Social theory of learning • Situated or contextual nature • Legitimate peripheral participation: the process by which newcomers become included in a community of practice Lave, Jean & Wenger, Etienne. Situated Learning. London: Oxford University Press, 1991. OLA Super Conference 2006

  7. What are Communities of Practice? • Meaning: Learning as experience • Practice: Learning as doing • Community: Learning as belonging • Identity: Learning as becoming Wenger, Etienne. Communities of Practice. London: Oxford University Press, 1998. OLA Super Conference 2006

  8. What are Communities of Practice? “Groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis”. Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W.M. Cultivating communities of practice: a guide to managing knowledge. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002. OLA Super Conference 2006

  9. Community of Interest vs. Community of Practice vs. Network of Practice • Community of Interest • Purpose is to be informed • Members share an interest in a topic (e.g. Japanese Anime) • Community of Practice • Purpose is to create, expand, and exchange knowledge and develop individual capabilities • Members are practitioners who develop a shared practice (e.g. Insurance Claims Processors) • Are subsections of larger Networks of Practice OLA Super Conference 2006

  10. Community of Interest vs. Community of Practice vs. Network of Practice • Network of Practice • Work-related network linking people together who share occupational or work-related practice and knowledge in common • Members are loosely connected, may never meet face-to-face, and rely on indirect links or third parties to keep in touch • Allows professional or disciplinary knowledge to flow across organizational boundaries via conferences, newsletters, discussion lists and web pages OLA Super Conference 2006

  11. Purpose of Study • To investigate the communication, information seeking and continuing professional education activities of a community of academic business librarians to better understand how they acquire and share knowledge related to their professional practice • To determine the extent to which this population can be characterized as a Community of Practice OLA Super Conference 2006

  12. Population • Criterion-based purposeful sampling strategy • 20 Ontario universities • Must offer business (or related) degrees • Must use the Subject Specialist model of library service • Individuals were identified based on job title • Population: 25 individual academic business librarians employed at 15 different universities in Ontario OLA Super Conference 2006

  13. Methodology • Two-phase multi-method research design • Phase One: web-based questionnaire • 23 closed and open-ended questions • Designed to elicit information on the communication, information seeking, and professional development of academic business librarians • used to create and administer the questionnaire • Phase Two: In-depth 1 hour interviews with 8 librarians OLA Super Conference 2006

  14. Phase One Results: Demographic Profile • Response rate: 84% • Gender: 14.3% male 85.7% female • Age distribution: • < 30: 9.5% • 30-39: 42.9% • 40-49: 14.3% • 50-59: 23.8% • 60 +: 9.5% OLA Super Conference 2006

  15. Educational Background • Undergraduate Background • English, History most often cited • Only 3 of 21 had studied Business or Economics • Date MLIS degree obtained • Prior to 1989: 28.5% • 1990 – 1999: 23.8% • 2000 or later: 33.3% • No MLIS: 14.3% OLA Super Conference 2006

  16. Workplace and Current Position • Size of university • 1500 – 67,000 FTE students • Mean: 23, 776 FTE students • Type of library • Branch: 43% vs. centralized: 57% • Nature of responsibility • Reference, collection development, instruction, liaison • Sole: 29% vs. shared: 71% OLA Super Conference 2006

  17. Continuing Professional Education Activities • LIS conference attendance within last year • Yes: 19 of 21 • Which conferences do they attend? • OLA – 13 • WILU – 4 • CLA – 3; ALA Midwinter – 3 • Conference presentations • Yes: 10 of 21 OLA Super Conference 2006

  18. Professional Communication Habits • BUSLIB-L subscriptions • Yes: 11 of 21 • 5 of 11 read it daily • No: 10 of 21 • Comments • “I used to monitor BUSLIB, but the value of the interactions declined quickly” • “I find it less useful as an academic librarian than when I was in corporate”. OLA Super Conference 2006

  19. Professional Communication Habits • Other LIS e-mail list subscriptions • Lists sponsored by professional associations • Lists on specific topics • Restricted lists • Data-related lists • ABEL-O (not a real “listserve”) OLA Super Conference 2006

  20. Communication Media Choice • Media selection framework (Lengel & Daft, 1988) • Rich media (face-to-face or telephone): for non-routine messages, convey cues of personal interest, caring and trust • Lean media (mail or email): for routine messages, maintain and strengthen weak ties • Other factors: proximity, recipient availability, desire for task closure (Straub & Karahanna, 1998) • Social & occupational norms OLA Super Conference 2006

  21. Phase Two: Methodology • In-depth 1 hour qualitative interviews with 8 individuals (7 female, 1 male) that explored information seeking behavior • Information seeking: “a conscious effort to acquire information in response to a need or gap in your knowledge” (Case, 2002, p.5) • Background (educational and work experiences) • If recently hired (<4 years): reflect back on how they learned their job • All respondents: discuss problems related to business librarianship that required them to seek out information OLA Super Conference 2006

  22. Phase Two Results: Information Seeking Frequency • Frequency varied according to: • Individual background factors • Educational background • Career stage • Organizational contextual factors • Type of Library: centralized or branch • Nature of Responsibility: sole or shared OLA Super Conference 2006

  23. Information Seeking Incidents • Core themes • Socialization strategies: learning the job as a newcomer to the position • Role-related information seeking: information needs arising out of the daily practice of business librarianship OLA Super Conference 2006

  24. Socialization Strategies • Organizational socialization theory (Van Maanen & Schein, 1979) • 6 tactical dimensions: • Collective vs. individual • Formal vs. informal • Sequential vs. random • Fixed vs. variable • Investiture vs. divestiture • Serial vs. disjunctive OLA Super Conference 2006

  25. “When I first came here, number one thing I noticed was there was nobody who could train me. Because whoever did it before took her expertise with her. There was no one else doing joint work or shared work so that someone else could teach me how to do it. I was dropped right into the position but there was nobody to ask for help and so I was on my own to begin with.” OLA Super Conference 2006

  26. “Business librarianship in academic libraries… my impression is that nobody wants to do it. At least in Canada or in a lot of places where there is a general library. [In my library] this portfolio gets passed around to the newest librarian. Nobody wants it. [My predecessor] was so happy when I got here so she could get rid of it.” OLA Super Conference 2006

  27. Socialization Strategies • New librarians with sole responsibility • Disjunctive socialization process – no role models • Tactics to overcome professional isolation and uncertainty • proactive information seeking behaviour • use of third parties (external information sources), direct questioning, observing OLA Super Conference 2006

  28. Socialization Strategies • New librarians with shared responsibility • Serial socialization process – internal role models • Colleagues “showed them the ropes” • Less need to build network of external contacts OLA Super Conference 2006

  29. Advice for employers and future subject librarians! • Training sessions for new academic librarians • Should facilitate relationships with external contacts including introductions to subject librarian peers at other institutions • Such contacts are very important for solo subject librarians who experience a disjunctive socialization process • See Oud, J. (2005). Jumping into the deep end: training for new academic librarians. Feliciter, 51(2), 86-88. OLA Super Conference 2006

  30. Socialization Strategies • Job transitions in later career stages • Serial socialization – smoother transitions because they were internal job transfers • Less uncertainty, greater role clarity • Shared responsibility – trained by colleagues • Sole responsibility – was already familiar with the requirements of the position and knew how to proceed OLA Super Conference 2006

  31. Role-related information seeking • Roles: • Reference services • Collection development • Instructional & liaison • Continuing professional education • Frequency of information seeking • Impact of shared vs. sole responsibility • Impact of lack of subject background OLA Super Conference 2006

  32. Reference Services Role • Information needs • Complex business reference questions • Data & government documents questions • Information sources • Internal colleagues • Data experts • Business database vendors • Email discussion lists OLA Super Conference 2006

  33. Collection Development Role “The problem with collections, the major problem is the collecting of databases. Because there is so much overlap from one to the next. And yet … each one is unique in its own way. They are extremely expensive. The major obstacle I came across, not having used these tools myself as a student or in research, I don’t really know how they are used. I can only make an educated guess. I can only get as much information from students or faculty as I can dredge out of them. …It is frustrating…” OLA Super Conference 2006

  34. Collection Development Role • Information needs • Challenge of making business database recommendations • Sole vs. shared responsibility • Information sources • Database demos and trials • Benchmarking against other libraries’ holdings OLA Super Conference 2006

  35. Instructional Role • Sole vs. shared responsibility • Solos lack internal mentors for teaching business resources – sought advice and mentoring from external sources • Shared responsibility – team teaching, act as sounding boards • Collaboration and consultation with data or government documents experts OLA Super Conference 2006

  36. Continuing Professional Education Role • Barriers to participation • Lack of time / no backup coverage • Lack of relevant offerings • Vendor training • Attend multiple sessions • Barrier: lack of facilities to host training sessions • Acquiring subject matter expertise • MBA vs. other approaches OLA Super Conference 2006

  37. Wenger’s indicators that a Community of Practice has formed: Sustained mutual relationships Shared ways of engaging in doing things together Rapid flow of information and propagation of innovation Absence of introductory preambles, as if conversations and interactions were merely the continuation of an ongoing process Very quick setup of a problem to be discussed Substantial overlap in participants descriptions of who belongs Knowing what others know, what they can do, and how they can contribute to an enterprise Mutually defining identities Ability to assess the appropriateness of actions and products Specific tools, representations, and other artifacts Local lore, shared stories, inside jokes, knowing laughter Jargon and shortcuts to communication as well as the ease of producing new ones Certain styles recognized as displaying membership Shared discourse reflecting a certain perspective on the world Applying the Framework of Communities of Practice OLA Super Conference 2006

  38. Communities of Practice: Wenger, McDermott & Snyder • Size (small or large) • Duration (short-lived or long-lived) • Location (colocated or distributed) • Composition (homogeneous or heterogeneous) • Development (spontaneous or intentional) • Organizational relationships (unrecognized to institutionalized) OLA Super Conference 2006

  39. What are Distributed Communities of Practice (DCoP)? • Communities that cannot rely on face-to-face interaction as its primary vehicle for connecting members. • Such communities often cross multiple boundaries (organizational or geographical) • There must be regular interaction via other means (web site, discussion lists, teleconferencing) • Is this population a DCoP? No • Is there potential to cultivate a DCoP? Yes OLA Super Conference 2006

  40. Cultivating a Distributed Community of Practice • Identify an extant loose network with potential • Find common ground • Challenges - Need to devote more time and effort to: • Reconciling multiple agendas to define domain • Building personal relationships and trust • Developing a strong sense of craft intimacy OLA Super Conference 2006

  41. Cultivating a Distributed Community of Practice • 4 key development activities (Wenger, McDermott & Snyder) • Achieving stakeholder alignment • Creating a structure that promotes both local variations and global connections • Building a rhythm strong enough to maintain community visibility • Developing the private space of the community more systematically OLA Super Conference 2006