Sunday, June 8, 2008

Information Resources: Options and Opportunities for end-user

Bianca Saporiti, Ovid's Regional Sales Manager was invited to the UJ Library (6th June 2008) to present a talk on "Information Resources: Options and Opportunities Available for the End-user Today". A number of librarians and lecturers attended this presentation.
What a better way to start if not to look back at where the Universities has started:
* Kant, the German 18th century philosopher who established the tradition of critical analysis, influenced thought so extensively that he is regarded as the founder of the University of Reason. Critical thought - consists of mental processes of discernment, analysis and evaluation
* Humboldt and the German Idealists gave us the modern university, replacing the University of Reason with the University of Culture – an institution whose purpose was jointly teaching and intense research. Culture meaning the patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activities significance and importance. The purpose of the University of Culture was to form ‘citizens’, provide them with national self-knowledge, i.e. national culture.
* Internationally the University of Culture has given way to the University of Excellence – with each of its various parts functioning excellently and all divisions of the university being asked to demonstrate their excellence. Excellence is demonstrated by ratings or rankings which are overseen by university management. The University of Excellence is connected with professionalisation –the professional is judged by his/her peers. The purpose of the University of Excellence is to provide ‘cultural literacy’, common information to its students.
Over the past two decades global culture and society has moved from the Gutenberg galaxy – read print - into the world of cyberspace. Academia is now caught up in the fast-changing and dynamic world where e-information and e-learning is altering and evolving not only the role of the university, but its professionals/professors and how they impart knowledge to the students. Most university students, aka the users - don’t care where their information comes from as long as it is useful and easy to get to. The appeal of the open web is its simple, integrated ‘one search’ solution. Users have increasingly become ‘googlized’ in their pursuit of easy and ‘good enough’ information rather than searching out traditional and authoritative references as suggested and/or recommended by instructors/professors.
The primary mission of an academic library is the provision of content for research and teaching. Academic libraries make resource decisions with an eye to optimizing access to content that is relevant to the curricula of their particular institutions thus, aiding and abetting the core efforts of the faculty to educate. The introduction of e-resources in the mainstream of the learning culture in universities has exposed end-users to more sources of information than ever before.
The information resources and tools the Academic Libraries provide to their users are :
- Library catalogue, OPAC
- Print books and e-books
- Print journals and e-journals
- Abstract & Index Databases, e-only access
- Full text Databases – e-only
- Open Access full text – both e-books and e-journals
- Course reserve packs
- Federated search engines for single access point to all e-information
Some points of discussion were:
* Researchers have developed an intense demand for published information.
* There is too much information for faculty and researchers to chose from.
* Demand for information has become more urgent – younger generation of researchers reared and nurtured by the Internet.
* The scale of international, multidisciplinary research dictates greater cooperation amongst researchers, the result of which is a greater exchange of ideas, and published papers.
* Fragmentation in disciplines has resulted in an increase of interest in specialised sub-discipline monograms.
What we had to say? From the discussion it came out that:
- Students need to be trained on the importance of the library and the sources of information which are made available to them;
- The Library need to adapt and change to the needs of its users;
- The Library need to teach students how to evaluate information from the Internet and how to find through the Library peer-review sources.
- The Faculties needs to be introduced to the latest developments in the library and its resources.
- Collaboration between Faculty and Library should be a common practice.

No comments: