Co-op at an academic library: outreach activities and citation tracking

In the first part of this series read  CAPAL member Siu Hong Yu’s first hand account of some of the projects he undertook at his 8 month academic library co-op.  The focus begins on outreach activities and a citation-tracking database comparative study.

Outreach Activities

September is always the most high-energy time for any campus. With all the excitements, anxieties and emotions among the students, I was more than happy to step out of my office to provide an extra pair of hands at the circulation desk during the first week back-to-school. In addition to the routine tasks of checking in and out library items, I also noted down frequently asked questions and made recommendations on how to improve the user experience during that first week. The most frequently asked question turned out to be about course reserves. Given the fact that it is a new concept among most first-year students, a leaflet or bookmark on how to search and obtain course reserves as well as their borrowing policies and fines could have been very useful. Meanwhile, adding printing money onto student IDs by far had the highest demand and sometimes caused a service bottleneck at the circulation desk. I wondered if the process could be automated. To add a student perspective and build better rapport, I suggested that a welcome desk could be set up at the library entrance where student ambassadors assist in promoting the library services.

Throughout the Fall semester, I also volunteered at various library outreach events. From introducing the Library’s new website using a tablet computer at a campus fair to promoting the research assistance available at the Library at Long Night Against Procrastination, one question kept coming up from students, “How do I volunteer at the Library?” The term service then became bidirectional, where the library and its users could indeed work together as partners to serve each other’s needs. Furthermore, I realized that those outreach events was not only an opportunity to reach out to the library users, but they were also an opportunity for the Library to network with potential collaborators such as the Writing Centre and Student Success Office. Research skills in the context of library services are among other essential university life skills such as time management, writing skills and wellness that will benefit students. Joint-effort programming and marketing makes sense in terms of allocating resources more efficiently and positioning the Library in the pathway to student success. For the Long Night Against Procrastination, I made the suggestion for the Library to bring along some of the board games from its collection for participants to sign out. Everyone deserves a break once in a while!

Citation-tracking Database Comparative Study

Publication and citation activity has become two of the measures by which research institutions and academic departments seek to understand their research impact. The last decade has also seen an increased level of influence of different university rankings upon university administrators, policy makers, funding agencies and the general public. In order to benchmark institutional research output, an evidence-based evaluation using a robust, multidisciplinary publication and citation database is essential. As a result, for the bibliometrics part of my work portfolio, I was tasked to investigate the differences between Web of Science and Scopus. As two of the major multidisciplinary citation-tracking databases, Web of Science and Scopus have both been sourced to produce influential university rankings. Under the guidance of the Bibliometrics and Research Impact Librarian (BRIL) in collaboration with the university’s Institutional Analysis & Planning, my investigation was an attempt to highlight the differences between the two databases in terms of their subject scope, content coverage and major historical developments, as well as to understand their potential implications on university rankings.

From the literature, recent studies suggest that the two databases are complementary while other papers conclude that the two are continuously improving. The relative advantage of choosing one database over the other depends on the particular subject area, time period of analysis and what explicitly will be analyzed. After compiling the databases’ facts and figures based on their content guides and online documents, I used both Web of Science and Scopus to gather the data specific to the institution’s researchers on their publication and citation numbers for a direct comparison. Overall, this project was particularly challenging because, from their underlying content selection philosophy to subject area focus and categorization, the two databases are fundamentally different.

The next installment will discuss library instruction and information literacy.  Stay tuned!


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One response to “Co-op at an academic library: outreach activities and citation tracking

  1. Pingback: Co-op at an academic library: information literacy and library instruction | CAPAL: UWO Student Chapter

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