Run don’t walk to check out this very important, very insightful report from Char Booth. I’ve been luck enough to share a few meals with Char and her take on the academic library student technology experience is well-grounded, innovative and, frankly, brilliant.
I’m lousy with anticipation, so I am extremely relieved to write that a giant piece of my workload/ brain energy has been officially lifted as of today. ACRL just released Informing Innovation: Tracking Student Interest in Emerging Library Technologies at Ohio University, a book-length research report I’ve been working on for quite some time.
The report is a detailed case study of the student environmental scanning project I spearheaded at OU in 2008 with the help of many colleagues (see my Acknowledgements for the long list of names). In addition to reporting our findings, I discuss the importance of gaining research-based insight into local user cultures in order to inform service development and mitigate the temptation to make potentially off-the-mark generational assumptions about who students are and how they use technology and libraries, complete with a chapter on the practical trials and travails of homegrown research. You can think of it as a quantitative corollary to the University of Rochester Studying Students project – quite different methods of investigation, similar depth of insight. It’s one part presentation of survey results, one part analysis of the academic library emerging technology and assessment cultures that have developed over the last few years, and one part bon voyage/ homage (bon vomage?) to my former employer. The OU Libraries manage to do incredibly innovative and effective work not only on a shoestring, but with an ever-important a sense of humor. It shows in many, many ways, and for this they deserve to be recognized and emulated.
Informing Innovation is available in several forms. Free downloads: the full documentin PDF, another version packaged by separate chapters, and an updated and revised template library/technology survey instrument based on the one used in the original Ohio University study. For an introduction to and explanation of the scanning project itself, there is also a streaming dynamic webcast of my and Chris Guder’s 2009 ACRL presentation (no virtual conference login necessary) that summarizes survey findings and explores its practical applications at OU, voice and slides-style. You can also buy a hard copy of the report in book form from the ALA Store.