Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Electronic Resources Librarian and Clinical Associate Professor
Resource Acquisition and Management
University of Illinois at Chicago
Head Librarian for Reference and Instruction
Wentworth Institute of Technology
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, firstname.lastname@example.org or to Margaret Bean, email@example.com. 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.
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%).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Other type of library or library organization
Do not work in a library
|Less than 3 years
More than 10 years
Degree in progress
|No educational background
Some undergraduate study
Some graduate study
Library work experience
Non-librarian work experience
Others (please specify)
|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
Conference or pre-conference workshop
Consulting with mentor
Webinars or teleconferences
Other (please specify)
|Other (please specify)
The STS chats are great too!
Books or other publications
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
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
|Question||Scale (1-Least interested to 5-very interested)||Total Responses||Mean|
|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|
|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|
|Working with consortia||25||30||35||23||6||119||2.62|
|Embedded library services||4||8||16||41||54||123||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|
|Developing management skills (budgeting, supervision, personnel recruiting, training, performance evaluation, etc.)||11||22||28||28||33||122||3.41|
|Consultation and collaboration with faculty and students||2||3||12||28||77||122||4.43|
|Impact factors, citation metrics, alt metrics||6||11||18||42||46||123||3.9|
|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|
|Video tutorial applications||14||17||31||35||27||124||3.35|
|Web page design||19||22||31||31||17||120||3.04|
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:
Text mining/Data mining/Data management/programming:
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