Information literacy paradigm in academic libraries in Greece and Cyprus

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  • Reference Services ReviewInformation literacy paradigm in academic libraries in Greece and CyprusStella Korobili Aphrodite Malliari George Christodoulou

    Article information:To cite this document:Stella Korobili Aphrodite Malliari George Christodoulou, (2008),"Information literacy paradigm in academiclibraries in Greece and Cyprus", Reference Services Review, Vol. 36 Iss 2 pp. 180 - 193Permanent link to this document:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00907320810873048

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    Users who downloaded this article also downloaded:Kuan#nien Chen, Pei#chun Lin, (2011),"Information literacy in university library user education", AslibProceedings, Vol. 63 Iss 4 pp. 399-418Alan Bundy, (2003),"A window of opportunity: libraries in higher education", Library Management, Vol. 24Iss 8/9 pp. 393-400Phussadee Dokphrom, (2013),"Information Literacy of Undergraduate Students in Thailand: A Case of theFaculty of Arts, Silpakorn University, Thailand", Library and Information Science, Vol. 8 pp. 111-126

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    http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00907320810873048

  • Information literacy paradigmin academic libraries in Greece

    and CyprusStella Korobili, Aphrodite Malliari and George Christodoulou

    Department of Library and Information Systems,Technological Educational Institution of Thessaloniki, Sindos, Greece

    Abstract

    Purpose The purpose of this study is to investigate the attitudes and perceptions of Greeklibrarians regarding information literacy programs and their preparedness for such programs.

    Design/methodology/approach The study was targeted at all professional and paraprofessionalstaff of the academic libraries in Greece and Cyprus. The instrument was a specially designedstructured questionnaire which included 20 questions, in sum 67 variables.

    Findings Most libraries do not deliver information literacy programs, but some kind of libraryinstruction. Many respondents consider that more money, more librarians and an appropriatelyequipped space are the best ways to improve information literacy programs. Concerning theinformation literacy trainers, there are those who emphasize teaching abilities and/or pedagogicalexperience, and those who emphasize infrastructure and funding.

    Originality/value The paper contributes to the existing knowledge of information literacy skillsby revealing certain issues regarding the academic libraries in Greece and Cyprus.

    Keywords Information literacy, Educational development, Lifelong learning, Library studies,Academic libraries

    Paper type Research paper

    IntroductionWhat are the goals and practices of Greek academic librarians with regard to thedevelopment of information literacy skills? Are Greek librarians acquainted with theInformation Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education? Do they contributeto the worldwide effort to promote the educational effort of libraries? These arequestions that motivated the authors to conduct this survey. It was consideredimperative to map Greek reality since up to now there were no surveys or otherresearch studies with regard to the objectives and practices of Greek librariansreferring to the development of information literacy skills in higher education.Awareness of the situation as well as future expectations of Greek academic librarianswill contribute to the development of efficient literacy education in Greece.

    The availability of digital information is a reality in Greece and Cyprus, especiallyfor academic libraries. Both the wealth of information and the associated informationtechnology in academic libraries in these two countries prompt the question to whatextent, if at all, do users take advantage of information sources? And, are informationliteracy skills promoted by Greek librarians.

    The term information literacy is quite new in the Greek library scene. The need forlibrarians to teach users how to retrieve relevant information in Greek academicinstitutions has been identified in the last few years. Nonetheless, it would appear that

    The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at

    www.emeraldinsight.com/0090-7324.htm

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    Received 15 November 2007Revised 24 January 2008Accepted 19 February 2008

    Reference Services ReviewVol. 36 No. 2, 2008pp. 180-193q Emerald Group Publishing Limited0090-7324DOI 10.1108/00907320810873048

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  • some academic libraries still do not provide any information literacy programs. Insteadempirical data shows that some of them inform their users about the provided servicesand/or some provide a kind of bibliographic instruction program. This study aims atproviding further knowledge with regard to whether any information literacy conceptsare offered in academic libraries in Greece and Cyprus and what kind of informationliteracy programs are provided, if any. Finally, this study focuses on the perceptionsand beliefs of librarians regarding information literacy programs, and highlights theabilities and competencies that are considered to be necessary for effectiveparticipation in the educational process.

    Review of the literatureOver the years a variety of different types of user education programs have beenestablished worldwide and the information literacy literature is full of studiesregarding these programs. The prevailing theme in these studies is how to providebetter information literacy programs, rather than whether to provide them or not. Somestudies are exploring the perceptions and practices of teaching faculty with respect tothe development of information literacy skills. Many of these studies have shown thatthe majority of faculty believe that librarians should have the responsibility of teachinginformation literacy skills and that cooperation with faculty will give better results(Amstutz and Whitson, 1997; Boff and Johnson, 2002; Canon, 1994; Cooney and Hiris,2003; Julien, 1998; Korobili and Tilikidou, 2005; Maynard, 1990; Cunningham andLanning, 2002). By definition, integrated information literacy programs must involveeffective collaboration between teaching faculty and instruction librarians. Instructionlibrarians must, therefore, also be active library liaisons to the faculty and academicdepartments they work with (Hollister, 2005, p. 104).

    A growing trend was and still is to integrate information literacy skills into courses,or to design a separate course (Herron and Griner, 2000; Higgins et al., 1998; Hollister,2005; Johnston and Webber, 2003; Scales et al., 2005; OHanlon, 2007; Sharkey, 2006). Inaddition, Andretta (2005) states specifically that information literacy is a prerequisiteand plays a central role within any e-learning initiative. Recently there has also been arise in online information literacy tutorials integrated in the curriculum (Hegarty et al.,2004; Merrill et al., 2005; Skov and Skoerbak, 2003). Many examples of informationliteracy programs can be found on university web sites (Bianco, 2005; Correia andTeixeira, 2003; Hadengue, 2004; Hegarty et al., 2004). However, a great deal of therelevant literature pinpoints the need of a pedagogic framework for delivering effectiveinformation literacy programs (Arnold, 1998; Carder et al., 2001; Cooney and Hiris,2003; Dennis, 2001; Doherty et al., 1999; Leadley, 1998; MacDonald et al., 2000).

    Many research studies addressed to librarians were also designed to identify theirdegree of literacy and the objectives and practices of user education in academicinstitutions, as well as to determine librarians perceived attitudes and skills requiredfor teaching information literacy. Adeyoyin (2006) conducted a survey among the staffof university libraries of West Africa to ascertain their information and communicationtechnology (ICT) literacy level. The result showed that only 48.38 percent of theprofessionals and 15.97 percent of the paraprofessionals were ICT literate. Therefore,he suggests that West African university libraries should encourage all theirprofessional librarians, as well as other staff, to become ICT literate. A surveyregarding the way the effectiveness of instruction librarians is improved, as well as

    Informationliteracy

    paradigm

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  • librarians perceptions regarding the strengths of teaching librarians was alsoconducted by Patterson and Howell (1990). Many of the respondents stated that theyhad attended various activities, such as conferences, workshops, or seminars, in orderto acquire the necessary skills. A great percentage also stated that the best way toimprove their effectiveness was increased preparation time. The greatest strength of ateaching librarian was considered by the majority to be enthusiasm, followed by, indescending order, communication skills, subject knowledge and rapport with students.While Shonrock and Mulder (1993) in a similar survey identified that the mostimportant skills of a bibliographic instruction librarian are communication skills,instructional ability and planning ability. It also indicated three main sources fromwhich librarians had acquired these skills: on the job training, self-teaching and otherkinds of formal education.

    Using the Delphi technique, Feret and Marcinek (1999) tried to identify the skillsand characteristics that are necessary for the new age librarian. Most of the expertsthat took part in the panel concluded that the skills that librarians need to acquire are,in descending order: communication / training skills; IT (Information technology)skills; managerial, commitment and subject knowledge profiling (p. 95). In order forlibrarians to acquire these skills, continual hands-on training, professional courses,seminars and workshops need to be organized (Feret and Marcinek, 1999, p. 101).Librarians need to acquire some kind of pedagogical qualifications, beyond theirexisting expertise (Hardy and Corrall, 2007; Homann, 2003; Meulemans and Brown,2003).

    Dalrymple (2002) conducted a survey among US librarians to ascertain howinstruction librarians and other librarians interested in user education, learn,assimilate, and utilize learning style theory. Nearly 84 percent of respondents indicatedthat they were interested or very interested in learning more about instruction oreducation. Learning styles and education in general are areas of ongoing interest forlibrarians. This would seem a logical outgrowth of several trends, including the adventof the information age, the adoption of information literacy standards, and the need forconstant training and retraining in so many fields, including librarianship(Dalrymple, 2002, p. 272). A study by Hardy and Corrall (2007) of 32 subject/liaisonlibrarians found that they were involved in a diverse array of activities, with liaisonand information literacy central to their roles. In other words, the findings indicatedclose collaboration with academics and involvement in teaching. Therefore,pedagogical and interpersonal abilities were seen as essential to complement theirprofessional/technical skills. In conclusion the survey suggests that subject librariansare fulfilling a useful role in the new digitized environment.

    Meulemans and Brown (2003, p. 262) identified that librarians were responsible foran increasing amount of instruction and they were also concerned with acquiring thoseskills necessary for the successful delivery of instruction. They suggest that Newlibrarians must be provided with teaching skills and opportunities to hone these skillsin their graduate education. Extended teaching practicums that have future librarianswork with actual students over a period of time with the guidance of an experiencedinstructional librarian could provide such an opportunity. Akers (2004) offerssuggestions to librarians who have no instructional design education or experiencethat may help them create their own personal teaching style in classroom.

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  • ObjectivesAddressed to the staff of the academic libraries in Greece and Cyprus the present studyseeks to investigate their attitudes and perceptions regarding information literacyprograms and their preparedness for such programs. More specifically, this study is setout to achieve the following:

    . To examine whether academic libraries in Greece and Cyprus provide libraryuser education programs and contribute to the development of informationliteracy skills.

    . To explore librarians perceptions of what would improve users informationliteracy skills.

    . To record whether instruction librarians have any teaching experience and theirperceived effectiveness in the classroom.

    . To investigate librarians perceptions of what would improve the efficiency of aninstruction librarian.

    MethodologyThis survey was addressed to all professional and paraprofessional staff of academiclibraries, with the exception of graduate students who work temporarily in the libraryuntil concluding their research. According to the most recent census, which wasconducted in 2005 (TQM Unit of Greek Academic Libraries, 2006) 1,037 professionals andparaprofessional librarians were occupied in the academic libraries of Greece and Cyprus.The e-mails of 342 academic librarians were identified. The instrument was a speciallydesigned structured questionnaire. The design and content of the questionnaire wasassisted by the work of Charles D. Patterson and Donna W. Howell (Patterson and Howell,1990) and Diana Shonrock and Craig Mulder (Shonrock and Mulder, 1993). Thequestionnaires were distributed as e-mail attachments. Participants were offered thechoice of electron...

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