The main objective of libraries in higher education institutions is to enable access to information that will meet the teaching, learning and research needs of the institutions’ communities (Department of Arts and Culture, 2015:18). Technology makes it easier to accomplish this by allowing librarians to embed products and services directly into the teaching, learning and research environments used by the communities. Course Management Systems such as Blackboard, are used by higher learning institutions to provide blended learning experiences. Many face-to-face lectures rely on an online module, and students appear to be more comfortable using the various online tools than ever before. For librarians, the online component of such a hybrid learning model is an opportunity to extend the traditional face-to-face library training and information literacy sessions into the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Virtually embedded librarians enable students’ access to library information online (Hoffman & Ramin, 2010:298) and libraries that have shifted towards embedding in online courses reach users at their point of need (Paganelli and Paganelli, 2017:55). If these statements are true, the question remains whether the end user is satisfied with the services rendered online or not.
Many surveys have been conducted to assess users’ satisfaction with library resources and the quality of library services (Zhang, 2015:273). Some studies investigated library use patterns of different user groups but few studies focus on the needs of Engineering students (Zhang, 2015:273) and if these needs are being addressed by embedded library services and products. The objective of this research was to establish the role that Engineering students expect an Information Specialist to play in a VLE, to identify the products and services the Engineering students expect the Information Specialist to provide, and to what extent. This was done using a case study research design.
As was expected, this research confirmed that the Engineering students recognise the importance of librarians embedding in their online modules. It is anticipated that librarians who embed online will be able to meet the needs of the students and build strong relationships with the students. If that does become the case, it is feasible to expect that the students’ use of library resources will increase. The next phase would be to build and launch a pilot project. Recommendations made for embedding in a VLE were (1) to consult with the faculty, library staff, and the instructional designer before the librarian attempts to launch embedded activities; (2) to identify the top in-demand products and services that can be embedded for each course as a matter of urgency; (3) to pilot the program with a few students and library staff and obtain feedback before the initiative is made publicly available to all students; and (4) to align the expectations or activities of the program with those of the course.
Mini Dissertation (MIT)--University of Pretoria, 2018.