The Library Researcher Series: A Team Approach to Planning and Teaching

by Tasha Maddison
Engineering Library, University of Saskatchewan

During the summer of 2012, a chance meeting of two science liaison librarians led to the creation and development of the initial Library Workshop Series for Scientists and Engineers. DeDe Dawson was eager to address the needs of graduate students and faculty – often these two groups do not receive library instruction and could benefit from sessions on literature searching and research productivity skills. I had just started as a liaison librarian and was eager to begin providing instruction and expand my contacts within the College of Engineering. The idea of providing a series sounded like a perfect opportunity for both of us. Although we acknowledged that the initial course offerings might appeal to a broader audience, we focused our pilot project on our primary areas of liaison work and targeted these graduate students and faculty members specifically in all promotion and marketing initiatives of the series. The series was launched that fall with an initial offering of four classes. All sessions were taught collaboratively and the series was repeated with two additional classes in the winter semester.

Building upon the initial success of the fall semester, the Library Instruction Interest Group piloted a concurrent series that offered RefWorks training in the winter semester of 2013. Based on the initial pilot project, the collaboration with the Library Instruction Interest Group, a planning team was formed and the Library Researcher Series was born. DeDe Dawson, Carolyn Doi, Vicky Duncan, Angie Gerrard, Maha Kumaran and Tasha Maddison are the founding and current members of the planning team. The team members represent five of the seven library branches which includes discipline coverage in the Sciences, Social Sciences, Education and Fine Arts. Due to the interdisciplinary approach to planning, the team is able to offer a series with a broader scope, as well as an expanded breadth and depth than the original pilot project. The team continues to utilize a collaborative approach to teaching, reaching out to librarians and other instructors in the university community to offer sessions as part of the series.

A core element of each series since the beginning has been the collection of statistics and feedback associated with each session. This evidence has shown us which sessions are popular and should be offered again, what additional sessions could be developed based on comments received, and how best to market our series. The data collected has also allowed us to document our successes! Since the fall semester of 2012, we have seen an increase in attendance each subsequent semester. Most recently, in the winter of 2014, we averaged 13 participants per session. We also worked hard to brand our series last year, creating a logo and consistent promotional materials such as posters and advertisements in On Campus News, the University of Saskatchewan’s newspaper. Our most successful marketing tool remains the direct emails which are sent to faculty and graduate students from liaison librarians.

Planning is currently underway for the fall of 2014 with a roster of approximately 21 classes being offered with topics such as: Comprehensive Literature Review (Part A – Subject Searching, Part B – Keyword Searching), Plagiarism, Scholarly Identity, Making the most of Google and Managing Citations Series (RefWorks, EndNote, Mendeley and Zotero). We are also exploring live streaming and recording some sessions. Part of each planning meeting is dedicated to a review of existing classes, deciding which ones to keep and when is the most suitable time for them to be offered again. We have generated a list of new topics which are added to the series when appropriate. Expressions of interest are also requested from our colleagues and instructors within our University community. Some classes are favourites and are offered every term, while others come and go from the series.

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This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

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