C&RL Spotlight

Scott Walter

Earlier this year, the editorial board of College & Research Libraries completed its review of the history of the journal in preparation for the just-concluded survey designed to identify seven “landmark” articles to be reprinted (with new commentary) in the 75th anniversary special issue planned for March 2015.

As voting has just concluded, I cannot announce the articles selected for that special issue just yet, but I can safely say that one of the themes we found in our review of articles published since 1939 related to the status of librarians in the academy. There may be no better record of the evolving nature of our field than the many thoughtful studies published over the years in C&RL on the emergence of new areas of professional work, new competencies considered critical for professional success, and the relationship between academic librarians and other members of the academic community.

The fact that thoughtful and data-informed attention to these issues remains important was the point of my May 2013 editorial, “The ‘Multihued Palette’ of Academic Librarianship.”1 Among the articles included in this month’s issue of C&RL are two that contribute to that perennial theme in the literature.

In “Perceived Inadequacy: A Study of the Imposter Phenomenon among College and Research Librarians,” Melanie Clark, Kimberly Vardeman, and Shelley Barba of Texas Tech University look at the “imposter phenomenon” and the ways that the changing nature of academic librarian roles across a range of areas (information technology, instruction, data services, etc.) may contribute to an individual’s feeling that he or she has achieved a level of success that he or she does not deserve (or that he or she had laid claim to expertise that is somehow fraudulent). Moving from an individual perspective to a broader perspective, Rachel A. Fleming-May and Kimberly Douglas of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville apply Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal’s “four frames” model to the question of how academic organizations “construct” the role of librarians on campus. The “four frames” will be familiar to anyone who has attended the ACRL-endorsed Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, and Rachel Fleming-May and Kimberly Douglass provide another example of the way in which it can be applied to consider issues of concern to the library community within the broader organizational context(s) in which we work.

Other articles included in the May 2014 issue of C&RL include:

  • Melanie Clark, Kimberly Vardeman, Shelley Barba. “Perceived Inadequacy: A Study of the Imposter Phenomenon among College and Research Librarians.” Abstract: The Imposter Phenomenon (IP) is an observed anxiety caused by an individual’s feelings of fraudulence, fear of being exposed as a fraud, and inability to internalize personal achievement. This study measures the incidence of the IP among librarians at college and research institutions in the United States and Canada and seeks to identify factors that contribute to its frequency. One in eight librarians reported above average IP scores. Younger librarians and those with less longevity experience IP feelings at a higher rate than more experienced counterparts. Also included is a discussion of how to lessen the impact of IP feelings.
  • Jean Marie Cook. “A Library Credit Course and Student Success Rates: A Longitudinal Study.” Abstract: The University of West Georgia’s Ingram Library has offered a 15-week, two-hour credit course since 1998. In a longitudinal study covering 12 years, the library analyzed the progression and graduation rates of more than 15,000 students. Students who took the class during their undergraduate career were found to graduate at much higher rates than students who never took the class. The library examined students’ high school GPAs and aptitude test scores but were unable to account for the increase through any difference in precollegiate achievement.
  • Bonnie Imler, Michelle Eichelberger. “Commercial Database Design vs. Library Terminology Comprehension: Why Do Students Print Abstracts Instead of Full-Text Articles?” Abstract: When asked to print the full text of an article, many undergraduate college students print the abstract instead of the full text. This study seeks to determine the underlying cause(s) of this confusion. In this quantitative study, participants (n=40) performed five usability tasks to assess ease of use and usefulness of five commercial library databases and were surveyed on their understanding of library terminology. The study revealed that more than half of the students correctly defined the term abstract and more than 75 percent understood full text. However, only 25 percent of the students were able to successfully complete all five database tasks.
  • Christina Kulp, Cheryl McCain, Laurie Scrivener. “Teaching Outside the Box: ARL Librarians’ Integration of the “One-Box” into Student Instruction.” Abstract: This article reports the results of a survey that targeted reference and instruction librarians who work at libraries that are members of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). Respondents were asked to indicate whether they teach students to use the one-box tool, and why or why not. Based on the responses of the 352 librarians who participated in the study, the researchers found that most reference and instruction librarians at ARL libraries are “teaching outside the box.”
  • Anthony S. Chow, Rebecca A. Croxton. “A Usability Evaluation of Academic Virtual Reference Services.” Abstract: This study examined the usability of five virtual reference services—instant messenger chat, e-mail, telephone, text messaging, and Skype videoconferencing—by having 31 undergraduate and graduate students evaluate the usability of the virtual reference services of two different universities. The study’s results suggest that user preference and satisfaction for virtual reference service are highly correlated with the service’s overall usability in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. Online chat was rated highest across all measures, including satisfaction and seven different usability factors. Major implications of the study suggest that online chat is the virtual reference of choice for university students, and that usability metrics are a good predictor of user preferences centered on high return on investment, speed of transaction, convenience, and minimal effort.
  • Jingfeng Xia, Minglu Wang. “Competencies and Responsibilities of Social Science Data Librarians: An Analysis of Job Descriptions.” Abstract: This study examines job announcements for social science data librarians and professionals to identify trends in the profession. A collection of 167 job postings from 2005 to 2012 from the International Association for Social Science Information Services & Technology website was analyzed on the frequencies of term occurrence and co-occurrence in job qualifications and responsibilities. The study verifies that employers valued nontechnical skills as heavily as technical skills, and detects dissimilar emphases of data activities for data librarians and nonlibrarian professionals: the former on data discovery and collection, and the latter on data analysis and preservation. An increasing requirement of data management planning was also found for data librarians.
  • Rachel A. Fleming-May, Kimberly Douglass. “Framing Librarianship in the Academy: an Analysis Using Bolman and Deal’s Model of Organizations.” Abstract: Since the earliest days of the profession, academic librarians have attempted to reconcile their status within the academy. This project takes a new approach to this effort by using Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal’s “Four Frames” model to analyze the issues. To more closely examine the dynamics, tensions, and implications associated with librarians’ professional status within the academy, we discuss the role of the academic librarian in the context of each of Bolman and Deal’s frames: structural, human resource, political, and symbolic. In this discussion, we demonstrate that librarians are positioned to address human resource (as defined by Bolman and Deal), political, and symbolic factors contributing to their status within the academy. Also, while we establish that the relationship between library faculty and disciplinary faculty plays a role in library faculty status, we conclude that library faculty status is constructed by a number of forces. We further conclude that many of the political and symbolic conditions experienced by librarians are rooted in structural and human resource factors controlled by upper-level administration in both libraries and the universities.

Also included in this month’s issue is a guest editorial by Craig Gibson and Trudi E. Jacobson, cochairs of ACRL’s Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education Task Force, which hosted online forum programs last month to collect feedback on the Draft Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education.2 Gibson and Jacobson consider the ways in which research in information literacy instruction and assessment, and, more broadly, the scholarship of teaching and learning in academic librarianship, may be influenced by the theoretical and practical framework provided in the revised standards.

Finally, you will note three changes to the journal as we continue our transition to the digital-only publishing model. First, we have increased the number of articles included in each issue. In print, we could include no more than five or six articles per issue due to page constraints, and this contributed to a long delay between an essay’s acceptance for publication and its appearance in the journal. Freed from those constraints, we have increased the number of articles in each issue to seven, and this has already reduced the time to publication for accepted essays by approximately two months.

Second, in response to feedback received from our authors during focus group sessions conducted in 2013, we have worked with Highwire Press to add “Article Usage Statistics” to the “Services” available at the article (and preprint) level. Selecting this option will allow the author (or reader) to see usage statistics across the life of the article, including page views and downloads. This is the first step in our efforts to take advantage of the digital platform to provide a more robust set of article-level metrics to our authors for their use in documenting the reach and impact of the work they publish in C&RL.

Finally, you may have noticed that our book reviews section is currently “on hiatus” (as they say in television). C&RL is currently searching for a new book review editor, and we expect our book reviews to return to upcoming issues of the journal as soon as the new editor is selected and the new reviews are solicited and received. We appreciate your patience during this transition.

1. The ‘Multihued Palette’ of Academic Librarianship,”
[Full Text] .

Draft Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, http://acrl.ala.org/ilstandards/?page_id=133.

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