Office Hours: Can We Handle the Truth?

My new column explores some recent studies about students, faculty and librarians.

Ultimately, the authors of the report make a series of recommendations, including a few that librarians must heed.

“We believe library instruction could benefit from some serious rethinking and re-examination. We recommend modifying sessions (in-class and reference encounters) so they emphasize…framing a successful research process…over research-finding of sources.” (p. 39)

Librarians’ focus on sources over teaching the research process itself has probably contributed to these disheartening survey results. But they also make me wonder how most college students see librarians. Are they invisible within their libraries and academic departments? Ineffective in bibliographic instruction sessions? (Just typing “bibliographic instruction sessions” makes my eyes glaze over.)

These findings complement those reported by ITHAKA earlier in 2010 (, which state that university researchers are relying less and less on the services of libraries and librarians and more on specific online resources. What role will academic librarians play in the lives of students as well as these faculty who view the library as less and less of a partner?

University librarian Jeffrey G. Trzeciak at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., believes “librarians have lost their audience” already…. [T]hey will likely never come back….”

His gloomy words should be a rallying cry for all university and college librarians and to LIS education as well.