Las bibliotecas universitarias en la sociedad del conocimientoretos y dinámicas de colaboración biblioteca-profesor: un estudio de caso

Supervised by:
  1. Ana Isabel Extremeño Placer Director
  2. António Firmino da Costa Co-director

Defence university: Universidad de Alcalá

Fecha de defensa: 25 May 2010

  1. Purificación Moscoso Castro Chair
  2. María de los Ángeles Zulueta García Secretary
  3. José Antonio Frías Montoya Committee member
  4. Ana Reyes Pacios Lozano Committee member
  5. Giselia Martins Felicio Committee member

Type: Thesis

Teseo: 293275 DIALNET lock_openTESEO editor


The new teaching/learning paradigm emerging from so-called „Bologna process‟ poses several challenges to the University and consequently to its libraries, waiting for some answers to be properly tackled. This requires not only resort to different knowledge fields, but also strategic alliances among the members of the academic community. It is therefore fundamental to know the perceptions of the members of the teaching staff on the competences and contribution of librarians and libraries in the fields of teaching, learning and research. Two main reasons gave rise to this research work. The first is mainly to do with changes occurring in European Higher Education Area and particularly in Portugal, while the second stems from direct contact with the University teaching staff in my daily work, allowing me to observe underuse of information resources available and little interaction or difficulty in interacting with librarians which does not make team work any easier, though highly required in this new context. This kind of relationship has been analyzed for some years now through empirical studies revealing the persistence of a problematic relationship between both these groups and inclusively some tension between them. This is why this research work, which is focused on the Portuguese reality, serves a double purpose: to analyze the role University libraries can play in the new Higher Education context with a view to set up new competences capable of developing the binomial Librarian/Teacher and add theoretical and empirical evidence to the perceptions of university teaching staff on the roles librarians can play and on the way they can support teaching, learning, and research activities. In this sense, through a Conceptual Relational Model of Librarian-Library/Professor relationships, it is our aim to determine the most important variables or those which get the highest relevance from the point of view of teaching staff members. Having an extensive literature review as a starting-point, the methodology adopted was based on a case study which has been analyzed from a descriptive and co-relational perspective including the description of phenomena (variables) and their possible relationships. This analysis was focused on the ISCTE-IUL University Institute, which includes the subjects of Human and Social Sciences, Management Sciences and Technological Sciences, thus implying quite different informational behaviors among the teaching staff. On the other hand, there are other Universities with similar characteristics in Portugal which admits extrapolation to other examples. As for data collection, we have privileged the Focus Group as a qualitative method and the questionnaire for a quantitative approach. The aim is to assure increased confidence and validation through the triangulation of methods. The information was loaded into a database and then processed through qualitative tools of statistic nature, such as SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) and Microsoft Excel. For data treatment both descriptive and inductive statistics were used. Besides, we have both relied on univaried and mostly bivaried analysis with a view to check if answers varied according to the characteristics of respondents (academic department they belong to, academic qualifications, professional category gender, and age among others). In order to test and validate our hypotheses the simple linear regression was used with the aim to find out if the variables were pair-related and if this relationship was positive or negative. In order to structure the relationship between certain subsets of variables we have relied upon multivariate analysis procedures, such as Principal Components Analysis and Structural Equation Modeling (SEM). We have also used Path Analysis through Structural Equation Modeling, having the AMOS software (SPSS operational software) as a supporting tool. In present Higher Education context, librarians should act as collection managers, service providers and information consultants, metadata producers, providers of virtual reference services, information mediators and valuators, symbolic analysts, knowledge managers and content editors, learning facilitators and trainers in information literacy and author rights, relationship managers and promoters of cultural activities. The conclusions achieved reveal that teaching staff members prefer local rather than virtual visits to the library, though visit frequency is higher in the latter case. Newly arrived members are the least frequent users of library services, either locally or virtually, while the oldest members are the most frequent users. As regards library resources and services, practices are mostly conservative, which denounces a traditional vision of library work as restricted to the provision of information services regardless of or merely unaware of the role library and librarians can play both in student academic education through information literacy and in supporting research and teaching activities through reference services. Teaching staff members with less time in the organization get the highest averages in the use of Basic Services. Information resources get very high importance rates when it comes to the teaching and research activities. In this respect, analysis showed a positive relationship between the importance rate attributed and the local and virtual use of the library. In the opinion of teaching-staff members, the library should become a Provider of different services targeted to support student learning and a Support centre for the research activity. Unawareness about the role to be placed by the library is deeper in the case of teaching-staff members with less time in the organization, who on their turn end up being the least frequent visitors. The most valued role is the Creation of digital repositories of scientific and academic production followed by Collection management and development and then by Information resources management. Trainer in information literacy is hardly valued. A positive relationship has been identified between (local and virtual) visit frequency and the degree of importance assigned to the roles played by librarians. Most teaching-staff members suggest their students to visit the library, a positive relationship having been identified between the use they make of the library and the intensity of suggestions. The difference in the outcomes translates the difference in teaching-staff members‟ valuation of the importance libraries and respective professionals can play in student academic education. In this context, a positive relationship should be stressed between the frequency of librarian-teacher contacts and teachers‟ suggestions to contact the librarian. Teaching-staff members mostly agree with the Participation of librarians in the teaching activity and they also agree with the Participation of librarians in research teams. Conversely, they tend to disagree with the Participation of librarians in teacher teams targeted at planning the teaching activity which eventually shows that librarians should regard teaching and research as an opportunity for the extension of the roles to be played at the University. From the outcomes achieved there is a clear distinction between librarians‟ exercise of the teaching activity and the exercise of this same activity as a result of joint planning procedures. The main reason for this disagreement is patent in the opinion I have never considered such a possibility in all three action domains. These outcomes stem from unawareness of librarians‟ academic qualifications, competences and skills, which implies either not to regard them as people who can and should participate in a wide range of activities usually carried out by the teaching staff or having forgotten the very existence of librarians as resources capable of supporting them as much as their students. Among the main motivations for the contact of teaching-staff members with librarians we can count the Search for electronic information resources and Collection development. Most respondents who state they do not contact the librarian choose as an explanation the item Because I have never thought the librarian would be able to help me, which is in tune with a similar reason identified to justify disagreement with librarians‟ participation in teaching activities, research teams, and teacher team meetings – I have never considered such a possibility. There is a positive relationship between the presence of contact between both groups and teachers‟ agreement with librarians‟ participation in the aforementioned areas. Analysis of the categories Student education, Information services, and collection management and development reveals that the former is the one librarians are supposed to impact the least in teachers‟ opinion. The most valued R&D competences are Relationships with users and clients, Management of collections and assets and Identification and validation of information sources. The least valued are Selling and diffusion, Marketing, and Publication and edition. When grouped into six dimensions, Information management gets the highest average importance while Edition gets the lowest. There is a positive relationship between the frequency of (local and virtual) use of the library and Satisfaction, and between the latter and the importance assigned to librarians‟ Exercise of teaching activities, research activities and support services. As regards the Librarian/Library – Teacher relational model, conclusions reached grado de ajuste idóneo (CMIN/DF=4.067) and 58% of explanation. Our final model allows us not only to confirm the relationships set out in the former model but also to find out/identify a range of new relationships which might contribute to a deeper knowledge of the dynamics established in different sociocultural processes (regarded as model variables) and present in librarian/teacher relationships, with a view to identify the determinants in teachers‟ disposition to collaborate with librarians. Need identification and understanding emerges as a determinant. Satisfaction, Perception and Communication also get a considerable degree of importance since they impact on Trust. Identification and Understanding along with Communication both contribute to Perception. Therefore, if a favorable perception on librarians and libraries is to be achieved, then they should focus their activity on both these dimensions. Commitment gets influenced by Identification and Understanding in addition to Perception. That is why teachers‟ Commitment towards librarians partly derives from librarians‟ performance at the level of Need identification and understanding as well as Perception. Communication does not impact directly on Collaboration, which gets the lowest value among the whole range of variables analyzed, this being the only one showing no direct relationship with Collaboration. Its impact is indirect and stems from Perception and Trust. In this sense, though at a first glance Communication emerges as having no direct impact on Collaboration, it is nevertheless important as a variable that contributes to develop teachers‟ favorable Perception of librarians as a way to raise their trust on them. Teachers‟ intrinsic characteristics (gender, age, department, academic qualification, professional category, time in career) contribute with 14% to this explanation.