Information and Digital Literacy: Argue a point of view

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    • #1620
      Natalie Anderson

      The point of view that I will argue is that – it is indeed not the role of the reference librarian to answer questions about how to use software.

      Firstly, I will emphasise I mean software, not databases. The definition of software is often attributed as being divided into two categories. Firstly, the systems software include the operating system and all the utilities that enable the computer to function. Secondly, applications software includes programs that do real work for users. For example, word processors, spreadsheets, and database management systems fall under the category of applications software.

      The reference librarian’s role may be expanding but I believe that it still revolves around research and knowledge, rather than teaching IT componets. The role and responsibilities of reference librarian, according to ALA, LisWiki, involves: being responsive to the needs of users; organise or coordinate projects and services for the user; aware of current trends and have a wide base of knowledge; keep tabs on the new types of reference and user services; evaluate the sources that they come into contact with so as to provide the user with the best information possible; collaborate with others to improve services and implement new services, in the profession and also with the user; be an advocate for the library and be involved in any outreach programs and actively promote the library and its services. The expectation of a reference librarian in an academic setting is mainly of research assistance, broad knowledge of topics, skills in references sources and much more. This particular article investigates the expectations that students have of reference librarians but none of the students mentioned knowledge about software. This can be attributed to students already having skills with those tools.

      Briefly, I must add, I do see it within the reference librarian’s role to help customers navigate database. I believe this is within the ‘being responsive to the needs of the users.’ Showing a customer how to search within the library website will set them up with the tools and also may alleviate a time poor reference librarian. However, that may depend on whether they want to learn or their general competency.

      Though, I may not consider it the reference librarians role to answer questions about using software, I do believe they could refer the customer to a program or workshop their library (or another library) may offer.. For example; SLQ’s The Edge offers workshops in Adobe Photoshop,Illustrator, InDesign and WordPress. Brisbane City Council libraries offer free computer training courses for all library members. The Brisbane city and Garden city locations also offer’ learning lounges’, which include accessesing online resources, including computer tutorials and full text databases. Neighbourhood and Community centers also offer these types of service. When I volunteered at a Brisbane community centre, I helped older people with anything from; setting up an email to writing a letter on Word Docs.

    • #2029
      Stacey Larner

      Yeah it would be basically impossible for librarians to be skilled in every software application. It’s probably good for reference librarians to have an idea where to point people for help, as you say tutorials and workshops, but also DIY online resources. But not expecting them to know how to use every piece of software (that reminds me of working at Dick Smith Electronics and a customer abusing me because I didn’t immediately know how to operate an electronic organiser. Bad memories!)

    • #2047
      Natalie Anderson

      it’s also the case that sure, there are probly well informed librarian who are IT savvy and have no problem. However, if they were to help with software, then that customer may expectate that service in other libraries they visit. As you say, there’s alot of ‘software’- and having one person adopt the service could lead to discrepancies across all.

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