This is one of the sobering truths these librarians, representing a group of Illinois universities, have learned over the course of a two-year, five-campus ethnographic study examining how students view and use their campus libraries: students rarely ask librarians for help, even when they need it. The idea of a librarian as an academic expert who is available to talk about assignments and hold their hands through the research process is, in fact, foreign to most students. Those who even have the word “librarian” in their vocabularies often think library staff are only good for pointing to different sections of the stacks.
From this interesting piece in Inside Higher Ed. Professors don’t get off easy either:
However, the researchers did not place the onus solely on students. Librarians and professors are also partially to blame for the gulf that has opened between students and the library employees who are supposed to help them, the researchers say. Librarians tend to overestimate the research skills of some of their students, which can result in interactions that leave students feeling intimidated and alienated, say the researchers. Some professors make similar assumptions, and fail to require that their students visit with a librarian before embarking on research projects. And both professors and librarians are liable to project an idealistic view of the research process onto students who often are not willing or able to fulfill it.
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