I’m currently engaged in a project looking at our communication with postgraduate research students, along with other colleagues in Library and Learning Services at De Montfort University. In order to get an understanding of the literature on this topic, we each took an element to investigate. I was looking at the literature on communication in libraries and thought it might be useful to share an overview and some references.
The literature indicates that communication between librarians and researchers isn’t seen as perfect by either side (Brown and Swan, 2007), and there is some evidence (and some speculation) that face-to-face contact is the most effective method of communication and promotion the Library has (Sadler and Given, 2007; Carter and Seaman, 2011). The most common methods used for communication between liaison librarians and researchers are email, face-to-face, telephone, and web-based subject guides (Arendt and Lotts, 2012; Henry, 2012).
Although web 2.0 is seen as a huge international trend in library communications (Tripathi and Kumar, 2010), most library uses of web 2.0 technologies for communication seem to lack the two-way interaction that defines web 2.0 (Adams, 2011; Aharony, 2012; Gerolimos, 2011). However, using web 2.0 technologies could nonetheless reinforce a library’s innovative brand (Brewerton and Tuersley, 2010) and offer a convenient format for sharing advice and news (Adams, 2011).
If I was to pick one article to read on this topic, I’d strongly recommend Sadler and Given’s (2007) article (although I don’t quite agree with their definition of ‘affordance’). This highlights some of the discrepancies between librarians’ preferred communication channels and the channels to which postgraduate research students pay attention. They found that the library website and teaching sessions were used heavily by librarians to communicate, but the students had ‘tunnel vision’ when it came to reading the library website, and didn’t see library teaching as important or relevant.
Or, if you’re a librarian looking for a good excuse for a knees-up, then Strittmatter’s (2008) article on the use of cocktail parties as liaison tools might be more tempting…
- ADAMS, R. (2011) Building a User Blog with Evidence: The Health Information Skills Academic Library Blog. Evidence Based Library & Information Practice, 6 (3), 84-89.
- AHARONY, N. (2012) Facebook use in libraries: an exploratory analysis. Aslib Proceedings, 64 (4), 358-372.
- ARENDT, J. and LOTTS, M. (2012) What Liaisons Say about Themselves and What Faculty Say about Their Liaisons, a U.S. Survey. Portal: Libraries & the Academy, 12 (2), 155-177.
- BREWERTON, A. and TUERSLEY, S. (2010) More than just a logo – branding at Warwick. Library & Information Update, 9 (9), 46-48.
- BROWN, S. and SWAN, (2007) Researchers’ use of academic libraries and their services: a report commissioned by the Research Information Network and the Consortium of Research Libraries [WWW]. Available from: http://www.rin.ac.uk/our-work/using-and-accessing-information-resources/researchers [Accessed 18 January 2013].
- CARTER, T.M. and SEAMAN, P. (2011) The Management and Support of Outreach in Academic Libraries. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 51 (2), 163-171.
- GEROLIMOS, M. (2011) Academic Libraries on Facebook: An Analysis of Users’ Comments. D-Lib Magazine, 17 (11), 4.
- HENRY, J. (2012) Academic library liaison programs: four case studies. Library Review, 61 (7), 485-496.
- SADLER, E. and GIVEN, L.M. (2007) Affordance theory: A framework for graduate students’ information behavior. Journal of Documentation, 63 (1), 115-141.
- STRITTMATTER, C. (ed.) (2008) If You Pour It, They Will Come: Hosting a Cocktail Reception to Promote Services to Faculty. Public Services Quarterly, 4 (3), 269-276.
- TRIPATHI, M. and KUMAR, S. (2010) Use of Web 2.0 tools in academic libraries: a reconnaissance of the international landscape. The International Information & Library Review, 42 (3), 195-207.