Why it matters how faculty view librarians

I love it when my friend Vardibidian blogs about libraries, because he always has such intriguing and thought-provoking things to say.  Yesterday, he had a post that very neatly connected some dots surrounding the recent Ithaka S+R report and its contention that while library directors prioritize the library’s role in facilitating teaching and learning, faculty see the library’s role primarily as a purchasing agent.

What was great about V’s post was that he offered a compelling argument as to why this is a problem, which is essentially, that faculty who view the library primarily as a purchasing agent won’t necessarily think to recommend to their students that they go talk to a librarian when they’re having trouble with their research.

And that is a problem, because the research that I did last fall, which will be published in the Spring 2012 issue of Reference & User Services Quarterly, shows that students who are encouraged by a librarian (in the context of library instruction in their courses) to ask at the library for help are not statistically more likely to do so. But students who are encouraged by a faculty member to ask for help are more likely to do so — lots more likely.

So this is a problem, and one that we probably need to address head-on.