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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Winter 2018

The 2015 STS Continuing Education Survey: A New Name for Continuing Education

Kavita Mundle
Electronic Resources Librarian and Clinical Associate Professor
Resource Acquisition and Management
University of Illinois at Chicago
Chicago, Illinois

Margaret Bean
Head Librarian for Reference and Instruction
Wentworth Institute of Technology
Boston, Massachusetts


To keep current with the professional development needs of ACRL Science and Technology Section (STS) members, the STS Professional Development committee administers a survey approximately every two years. Surveys are sent to all section members as well as to members of the STS-L mailing list. For each survey questions are revised to reflect current topics of possible interest to section members. This article reports on the results of the 2015 survey.


The ACRL Science and Technology Section (STS) Professional Development Committee (formerly the Continuing Education Committee) conducted a survey in the spring of 2015 to identify the continuing education needs of its membership. The survey was distributed through the discussion list of the Science and Technology Section (STS) of ACRL, STS-L.

The survey was designed and prepared by the members of the STS Professional Development Committee. Committee Co-Chair Cristina Caminita administered the survey and compiled the results. This report was prepared by Kavita Mundle and Margaret Bean, former Committee Co-Chair. Questions about the 2015 survey may be directed to Kavita Mundle, or to Margaret Bean, The results of the survey are presented below.


The 2015 survey was based upon the 2009 survey. Questions from the 2009 survey were reviewed by Continuing Education committee members and were revised, deleted, or expanded to reflect current interests of section members. The survey was distributed via a Qualtrix form from early May 2015 to May 26, 2015. A total of 137 responses were received which was slightly more than 111 responses received in the 2009 survey.

Results and Discussion

A vast majority of the 2015 survey respondents (93%) were academic librarians, 55% of them mid-career librarians with over 10 years of work experience. A low response rate of 14% by new librarians with experience less than three years was found concerning. Committee members recognized that the name "Continuing Education Committee" might have dissuaded librarians who were recently out of school to participate in the survey. As a result, the committee proposed to the STS Executive Board that the name of the committee be changed from the "Continuing Education Committee" to the "Professional Development Committee." This request was accepted.

Although 59% of the respondents indicated having an undergraduate science degree, 61% librarians showed that they have gained experience as science librarians by working in academic libraries. Most librarians (83%) showed a preference toward receiving continuing education via webinars and teleconferences, followed by a preference towards receiving continuing education at conferences or pre-conferences (72%). Other suggested preferences included STS chats, journal articles, science librarian boot camps, and MOOCs (massive open online courses). These methods are preferred as they do not involve travel-related costs. Only 25% respondents were interested in taking credit courses. When asked what types of credit coursed would be preferred, librarians voted for distance education (53%), MOOC (38%), and post-MLS/MLIS certification program (37%).

Pre-Selected Topics

The survey presented a list of 33 pre-selected topics to gauge the interest of science librarians on the scale of 1 to 5, 1 being "least interested" to 5 being "most interested." Three topics ranked at the top of the survey. The first was "consultation and collaboration with faculty" with a score of 4.43. The other two topics, "embedded library services" and "library instruction" tied at a score of 4.08. Initiating and sustaining faculty-librarian collaboration is clearly a challenging activity for librarians and embedding library services at the campus level closely ties in with improving literacy and research skills of the students leading to student success. Interestingly, "managing approval plans" and "working with consortia" received the lowest scores. This is not surprising considering that these roles are mostly undertaken by acquisitions and e-resources librarians at many institutions. Other ranked topics in which respondents showed interest included marketing, specific subject areas, developing a research agenda, budgeting, makerspaces, leadership, and assessment.

Open-Ended Question

While pre-defined topics made a clear deliberation for the topics of interest to science librarians, the survey did ask if there were any other topics that could be of possible interests to science librarians. The final question on the survey was open ended to determine if there are areas of interest which were not captured by the pre-selected topics. A total of 25 responses were received. Topics which scored at the top of the list include "Altmetrics/metrics/assessment," "learning data management tools with associated technologies," and "gaining knowledge in specific subject areas/STEM librarianship." See Appendix 1 for a detailed list of suggested topics arranged under broad headings.

Comparison to Previous Surveys

Two questions were removed from this survey because it was felt that they were not relevant: gender and "which professional organization do you belong to." The survey was updated to include new and emerging trends in STEM librarianship such discovery services and linked/open data.

Implementation and Use of Survey

Survey recommendations can be used by STS Hot Topics or Programming Committees, as well as by STS in proactively planning pre-conferences during ALA meetings, virtual pre-conferences, webinars, online discussions, or joint programs with ALCTS Committees.

Recommendations for Future Surveys

We recommend that future surveys reflect new and emerging trends in STEM librarianship. Also, it might be useful to include in the e-mail that goes out to STS-L linking to the survey a note specifically to new members. The note could encourage newer librarians to fill out the survey, reminding them that the committee is interested in learning the needs of librarians in all stages of their careers.

Recommendations for Future Continuing Education Programs

There seems to be a great interest among science librarians in learning about assessment techniques, metrics, or data mining tools. Offering webinars, creating video tutorials, or offering virtual pre-conferences will benefit science libraries to stay atop of these trends, especially at the time when library budgets are depleting and faculty-librarian collaborations are influencing student learning.

Suggested Web Sites:

2009 Continuing Education Survey Results

2007 Continuing Education Survey Results

2005 Continuing Education Survey Results


Calzonetti, J. & Crook, L. 2009. The 2007 STS continuing education survey: continuing education needs of science/technology librarians. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship. DOI: 10.5062/F4ST7MRG

Spackman, E., et al. 2006. The 2005 continuing education survey: what science librarians want to know. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship. DOI: 10.5062/F4V9860G

Appendix 1

Open-Ended Question

Specific Subject Area Librarianship/STEM Librarianship:

Impact factors, citation metrics, Altmetrics, Unique IDs:

Research/Scholarly Publishing:

Text mining/Data mining/Data management/programming:



Appendix 2

2015 STS Continuing Education Survey
Detailed Results

Q.1 Where do you work?

Answer Options Response Percentage
Academic library
Corporate library
Government library
Public library
Other type of library or library organization
Do not work in a library
Total 137 100%

Q.2 How many years since receiving Master's degree in library science?

Answer Options Response Percentage
Less than 3 years
3-5 years
6-10 years
More than 10 years
Degree in progress
Total 136 100%

Q.3 What is your background in the Sciences, Applied Sciences, or Engineering? (Mark all that apply)

Answer Options Response Percentage
No educational background
Some undergraduate study
Undergraduate degree
Some graduate study
Master's Degree
Continuing education
Library work experience
Non-librarian work experience
Others (please specify)
Total 135 100%
Other (please specify)
MS in Computer Science, I don't know if that counts
Masters in Library SCIENCE
IT, Health services research, health policy, nonprofit management, archives, teaching
NIH Fellowship; Woods Hole Biomedical Informatics Fellowship
Academic/medical research

Q.4 How would you prefer to receive continuing education? (Mark all that apply)

Answer Options Response Percentage
Credit course
Conference or pre-conference workshop
Other workshops
Consulting with mentor
Webinars or teleconferences
Web-based information
Other (please specify)
Other (please specify)
The STS chats are great too!
journal format
journal articles
Books or other publications
Boot camps
Conference presentations; also, information through emails
Recognition for completion of open online courses (Coursera, EdX, etc.)
CANNOT AFFORD Credit Courses or Conference or Pre-Conference Workshops
local conference or workshop

Q.5 What types of credit courses would you consider taking to further your education? (Mark all that apply)

Answer Options Responses Percentage
Classroom-based course
Distance education
Within an ALA approved MLS/MLIS program
Within a post-MLS/MLIS certification program
Undergraduate or Continuing Education course in assigned subject areas
Undergraduate or Continuing Education technology skills course
Not interested in credit coursework
Total 132 100%

Q.6 On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being "least interested" and 5 being "very interested," please indicate how interested you are in learning more about the following continuing education topics

Question Scale (1-Least interested to 5-very interested) Total Responses Mean
  1 2 3 4 5    
Evaluating existing services/developing new services 6 10 25 46 39 126 3.81
Managing and utilizing usage statistics 7 15 40 28 36 126 3.56
Approval Plans 33 31 30 17 8 119 2.46
Collection development in specific subject areas 13 17 28 39 25 122 3.38
Managing e-Books: purchasing, subscribing, platform/license issues 21 25 31 23 21 121 2.98
Managing archival rights 25 31 33 20 9 118 2.64
Managing electronic journals: purchasing, subscribing, platform/license issues 18 31 35 18 17 119 2.87
Patent and trademark sources, searching, etc. 21 22 23 29 27 122 3.16
Patron-driven acquisition 24 30 32 27 10 123 2.75
Working with consortia 25 30 35 23 6 119 2.62
Embedded library services 4 8 16 41 54 123 4.08
Library instruction 4 9 15 38 55 121 4.08
Marketing library resources and services 6 7 23 36 51 123 3.97
Specific subject area librarianship 4 5 17 33 61 120 4.18
Developing a research agenda 5 14 29 36 35 119 3.69
Grant writing 6 14 39 33 31 123 3.56
Developing management skills (budgeting, supervision, personnel recruiting, training, performance evaluation, etc.) 11 22 28 28 33 122 3.41
Professional advancement 9 15 40 33 27 124 3.44
Consultation and collaboration with faculty and students 2 3 12 28 77 122 4.43
Copyright issues 11 14 23 44 33 125 3.59
Impact factors, citation metrics, alt metrics 6 11 18 42 46 123 3.9
Institutional repositories 8 18 37 32 30 125 3.46
Open access publishing models 5 9 32 36 41 123 3.8
Research data management 3 13 21 41 46 124 3.92
Data visualization labs and services 6 7 25 41 44 123 3.89
Discovery services 13 21 33 36 20 123 3.24
Informatics 10 10 42 40 22 124 3.44
Libguides 19 23 31 30 22 125 3.1
Linked/open data 8 17 35 36 28 124 3.48
Mobile apps 14 29 38 30 13 124 2.99
Video tutorial applications 14 17 31 35 27 124 3.35
Web page design 19 22 31 31 17 120 3.04
Visualized data 10 10 25 34 42 121 3.73

Q.7 Are there topics not listed in the previous question that you would like to learn about? Please list them here

Total responses received were 25. The topics suggested were as follows that are grouped under broad headings:

Specific Subject Area Librarianship/STEM Librarianship:

Impact factors, citation metrics, Altmetrics, Unique IDs:

Research/Scholarly Publishing:

Text mining/Data mining/Data management/programming:



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