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1. What were the major goals of the department this past year? Describe accomplishments within these goals.
The University Libraries completed a transition to OCLC's QuestionPoint platform for InfoPoint email and chat reference services during the summer of 2009. A key driver of the transition was the opportunity to provide 24/7 service at no additional cost to the University Libraries through our partnership with Minitex's AskMN service.
Other highlights include:
- QuestionPoint provides excellent statistical reporting capabilities.
- Demand for digital reference services varies significantly throughout the week, suggesting the potential for an asymmetrical staffing model.
- Users requested chat reference sessions more frequently than they submitted email reference questions.
- Our chat reference staff are able to handle only 36% of the chat sessions requested by our users, which is in line with the other AskMN academic libraries. This highlights the benefit of having the cooperative provide back-up during hours we are not available.
- Satisfaction levels are high among Chat users who respond to our post-chat survey.
The Libraries partnered with the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence (MCAE) and the SMART Learning Commons to provide the Peer Research Consultant Program, targeted to support First Year Writing students and MCAE program and scholarship students. Peer Research Consultants undergo a rigorous training to develop skills in information literacy, tutoring and culturalcompetency. They met with approximately 100 students over the course of the 2009-2010 academic year and received high praise from both students and instructors.
Project Information Literacy
The University of Minnesota took part in a nation-wide survey through Project Information Literacy (PIL) which studies "how undergraduates conceptualize and operationalize tasks for course-related research and how in their everyday lives." In May 2010 a survey was sent to almost 4,000 undergraduates at the University of Minnesota. 572 students responded, giving us a 15% response rate. We plan to use this data to inform our ongoing instructional and student support efforts.
- A large majority of U of M respondents reported they most frequently used course readings (96%), search engines such as Google (91%), and scholarly research databases (86%) for course-related research.
- When U of M respondents were faced with evaluating Web sites they had collected for their course-related research, three-fourths "almost always" or "often" considered the currency of a Web site (74%), the Web site's URL and what it might mean about the origins of information (74%), and the author's credentials, if they were provided (73%).
- Students reported having three frequent difficulties during the entire course-related research process, from researching to writing, that included : (1) getting started on an assignment (86%), (2) defining a topic (66%) and (3) narrowing down a topic (60%).
- Over half reported they used certain course related research practices, routines, and techniques from one course-related research assignment to the next one.
- They also reported using practices and routines for the information gathering part of course-related research--but these were fewer than the practices that the sample used for writing papers. Respondents reported included using a system for organizing the information they found along the way (41%), figuring out search terms to use early on (31%), and developing an overall research plan to guide the process (29%).
President's Emerging Leader Project
We were selected to be one of the projects for the President's Emerging Leaders program. Five staff from across the University worked on the topic, "Teaching 21st Century Literacies Through the University Libraries to Support the Undergraduate Experience." We expect their report and recommendations soon and look forward to use their findings as we work towards this goal.
Library Faculty Seminar for Institute of Technology/College of Science and Engineering
The Library Faculty Seminar was held May 19 and 20 with 13 faculty and instructors from the Institute of Technology/College of Science and Engineering. This program created a community of faculty and instructors committed to developing student skills in finding, evaluating and synthesizing information in their academic coursework and for lifelong learning. This pilot program included sessions on information literacy, assignment design to increase students' information and 21st century literacy skills, copyright, scholarly communication issues, library tools, services and resources. Overall, participant evaluations were very positive and many next steps are in process between faculty and librarians. We look forward to offering this type of faculty seminar again in the future.