Information literacy paradigm in academic libraries in Greece and Cyprus

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  • Reference Services ReviewInformation literacy paradigm in academic libraries in Greece and CyprusStella Korobili Aphrodite Malliari George Christodoulou

    Article information:To cite this document:Stella Korobili Aphrodite Malliari George Christodoulou, (2008),"Information literacy paradigm in academiclibraries in Greece and Cyprus", Reference Services Review, Vol. 36 Iss 2 pp. 180 - 193Permanent link to this document:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00907320810873048

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    http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00907320810873048

  • Information literacy paradigmin academic libraries in Greece

    and CyprusStella Korobili, Aphrodite Malliari and George Christodoulou

    Department of Library and Information Systems,Technological Educational Institution of Thessaloniki, Sindos, Greece

    Abstract

    Purpose The purpose of this study is to investigate the attitudes and perceptions of Greeklibrarians regarding information literacy programs and their preparedness for such programs.

    Design/methodology/approach The study was targeted at all professional and paraprofessionalstaff of the academic libraries in Greece and Cyprus. The instrument was a specially designedstructured questionnaire which included 20 questions, in sum 67 variables.

    Findings Most libraries do not deliver information literacy programs, but some kind of libraryinstruction. Many respondents consider that more money, more librarians and an appropriatelyequipped space are the best ways to improve information literacy programs. Concerning theinformation literacy trainers, there are those who emphasize teaching abilities and/or pedagogicalexperience, and those who emphasize infrastructure and funding.

    Originality/value The paper contributes to the existing knowledge of information literacy skillsby revealing certain issues regarding the academic libraries in Greece and Cyprus.

    Keywords Information literacy, Educational development, Lifelong learning, Library studies,Academic libraries

    Paper type Research paper

    IntroductionWhat are the goals and practices of Greek academic librarians with regard to thedevelopment of information literacy skills? Are Greek librarians acquainted with theInformation Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education? Do they contributeto the worldwide effort to promote the educational effort of libraries? These arequestions that motivated the authors to conduct this survey. It was consideredimperative to map Greek reality since up to now there were no surveys or otherresearch studies with regard to the objectives and practices of Greek librariansreferring to the development of information literacy skills in higher education.Awareness of the situation as well as future expectations of Greek academic librarianswill contribute to the development of efficient literacy education in Greece.

    The availability of digital information is a reality in Greece and Cyprus, especiallyfor academic libraries. Both the wealth of information and the associated informationtechnology in academic libraries in these two countries prompt the question to whatextent, if at all, do users take advantage of information sources? And, are informationliteracy skills promoted by Greek librarians.

    The term information literacy is quite new in the Greek library scene. The need forlibrarians to teach users how to retrieve relevant information in Greek academicinstitutions has been identified in the last few years. Nonetheless, it would appear that

    The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at

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    Received 15 November 2007Revised 24 January 2008Accepted 19 February 2008

    Reference Services ReviewVol. 36 No. 2, 2008pp. 180-193q Emerald Group Publishing Limited0090-7324DOI 10.1108/00907320810873048

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  • some academic libraries still do not provide any information literacy programs. Insteadempirical data shows that some of them inform their users about the provided servicesand/or some provide a kind of bibliographic instruction program. This study aims atproviding further knowledge with regard to whether any information literacy conceptsare offered in academic libraries in Greece and Cyprus and what kind of informationliteracy programs are provided, if any. Finally, this study focuses on the perceptionsand beliefs of librarians regarding information literacy programs, and highlights theabilities and competencies that are considered to be necessary for effectiveparticipation in the educational process.

    Review of the literatureOver the years a variety of different types of user education programs have beenestablished worldwide and the information literacy literature is full of studiesregarding these programs. The prevailing theme in these studies is how to providebetter information literacy programs, rather than whether to provide them or not. Somestudies are exploring the perceptions and practices of teaching faculty with respect tothe development of information literacy skills. Many of these studies have shown thatthe majority of faculty believe that librarians should have the responsibility of teachinginformation literacy skills and that cooperation with faculty will give better results(Amstutz and Whitson, 1997; Boff and Johnson, 2002; Canon, 1994; Cooney and Hiris,2003; Julien, 1998; Korobili and Tilikidou, 2005; Maynard, 1990; Cunningham andLanning, 2002). By definition, integrated information literacy programs must involveeffective collaboration between teaching faculty and instruction librarians. Instructionlibrarians must, therefore, also be active library liaisons to the faculty and academicdepartments they work with (Hollister, 2005, p. 104).

    A growing trend was and still is to integrate information literacy skills into courses,or to design a separate course (Herron and Griner, 2000; Higgins et al., 1998; Hollister,2005; Johnston and Webber, 2003; Scales et al., 2005; OHanlon, 2007; Sharkey, 2006). Inaddition, Andretta (2005) states specifically that information literacy is a prerequisiteand plays a central role within any e-learning initiative. Recently there has also been arise in online information literacy tutorials integrated in the curriculum (Hegarty et al.,2004; Merrill et al., 2005; Skov and Skoerbak, 2003). Many examples of informationliteracy programs can be found on university web sites (Bianco, 2005; Correia andTeixeira, 2003; Hadengue, 2004; Hegarty et al., 2004). However, a great deal of therelevant literature pinpoints the need of a pedagogic framework for delivering effectiveinformation literacy programs (Arnold, 1998; Carder et al., 2001; Cooney and Hiris,2003; Dennis, 2001; Doherty et al., 1999; Leadley, 1998; MacDonald et al., 2000).

    Many research studies addressed to librarians were also designed to identify theirdegree of literacy and the objectives and practices of user education in academicinstitutions, as well as to determine librarians perceived attitudes and skills requiredfor teaching information literacy. Adeyoyin (2006) conducted a survey among the staffof university libraries of West Africa to ascertain their information and communicationtechnology (ICT) literacy level. The result showed that only 48.38 percent of theprofessionals and 15.97 percent of the paraprofessionals were ICT literate. Therefore,he suggests that West African university libraries should encourage all theirprofessional librarians, as well as other staff, to become ICT literate. A surveyregarding the way the effectiveness of instruction librarians is improved, as well as

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  • librarians perceptions regarding the strengths of teaching librarians was alsoconducted by Patterson and Howell (1990). Many of the respondents stated that theyhad attended various activities, such as conferences, workshops, or seminars, in orderto acquire the necessary skills. A great percentage also stated that the best way toimprove their effectiveness was increased preparation time. The greatest strength of ateaching librarian was considered by the majority to be enthusiasm, followed by, indescending order, communication skills, subject knowledge and rapport with students.While Shonrock and Mulder (1993) in a similar survey identified that the mostimportant skills of a bibliographic instruction librarian are communication skills,instructional ability and planning ability. It also indicated three main sources fromwhich librarians had acquired these skills: on the job training, self-teaching and otherkinds of formal education.

    Using the Delphi technique, Feret and Marcinek (1999) tried to identify the skillsand characteristics that are necessary for the new age librarian. Most of the expertsthat took part in the panel concluded that the skills that librarians need to acquire are,in descending order: communication / training skills; IT (Information technology)skills; managerial, commitment and subject knowledge profiling (p. 95). In order forlibrarians to acquire these skills, continual hands-on training, professional courses,seminars and workshops need to be organized (Feret and Marcinek, 1999, p. 101).Librarians need to acquire some kind of pedagogical qualifications, beyond theirexisting expertise (Hardy and Corrall, 2007; Homann, 2003; Meulemans and Brown,2003).

    Dalrymple (2002) conducted a survey among US librarians to ascertain howinstruction librarians and other librarians interested in user education, learn,assimilate, and utilize learning style theory. Nearly 84 percent of respondents indicatedthat they were interested or very interested in learning more about instruction oreducation. Learning styles and education in general are areas of ongoing interest forlibrarians. This would seem a logical outgrowth of several trends, including the adventof the information age, the adoption of information literacy standards, and the need forconstant training and retraining in so many fields, including librarianship(Dalrymple, 2002, p. 272). A study by Hardy and Corrall (2007) of 32 subject/liaisonlibrarians found that they were involved in a diverse array of activities, with liaisonand information literacy central to their roles. In other words, the findings indicatedclose collaboration with academics and involvement in teaching. Therefore,pedagogical and interpersonal abilities were seen as essential to complement theirprofessional/technical skills. In conclusion the survey suggests that subject librariansare fulfilling a useful role in the new digitized environment.

    Meulemans and Brown (2003, p. 262) identified that librarians were responsible foran increasing amount of instruction and they were also concerned with acquiring thoseskills necessary for the successful delivery of instruction. They suggest that Newlibrarians must be provided with teaching skills and opportunities to hone these skillsin their graduate education. Extended teaching practicums that have future librarianswork with actual students over a period of time with the guidance of an experiencedinstructional librarian could provide such an opportunity. Akers (2004) offerssuggestions to librarians who have no instructional design education or experiencethat may help them create their own personal teaching style in classroom.

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  • ObjectivesAddressed to the staff of the academic libraries in Greece and Cyprus the present studyseeks to investigate their attitudes and perceptions regarding information literacyprograms and their preparedness for such programs. More specifically, this study is setout to achieve the following:

    . To examine whether academic libraries in Greece and Cyprus provide libraryuser education programs and contribute to the development of informationliteracy skills.

    . To explore librarians perceptions of what would improve users informationliteracy skills.

    . To record whether instruction librarians have any teaching experience and theirperceived effectiveness in the classroom.

    . To investigate librarians perceptions of what would improve the efficiency of aninstruction librarian.

    MethodologyThis survey was addressed to all professional and paraprofessional staff of academiclibraries, with the exception of graduate students who work temporarily in the libraryuntil concluding their research. According to the most recent census, which wasconducted in 2005 (TQM Unit of Greek Academic Libraries, 2006) 1,037 professionals andparaprofessional librarians were occupied in the academic libraries of Greece and Cyprus.The e-mails of 342 academic librarians were identified. The instrument was a speciallydesigned structured questionnaire. The design and content of the questionnaire wasassisted by the work of Charles D. Patterson and Donna W. Howell (Patterson and Howell,1990) and Diana Shonrock and Craig Mulder (Shonrock and Mulder, 1993). Thequestionnaires were distributed as e-mail attachments. Participants were offered thechoice of electronic or fax submission. Most respondents chose the electronic submission.This procedure provided 167 usable questionnaires from 67 libraries.

    The questionnaire included 20 questions, in total 67 variables. The first sixquestions asked respondents for demographic data: sex, academic titles, library inwhich they work and their job responsibility. The next three questions asked about thefrequency of use of nine types of information tools, whether their library offers anykind of library education programs and what kind. The following three questions wereaddressed to the instruction librarians and they were asked what topics they includedin the existing library education programs and their perceived effectiveness in teachinglibrary education. The next part included issues referring to library staff perceptionsregarding the most appropriate methods for teaching library education, and the wayslibrary education may be improved; it also included issues referring to whether librarystaff have any teaching experience and if they have participated in any activities toimprove teaching skills. Finally the last part explores staff perceptions of what wouldimprove the efficiency of a librarian teaching information literacy skills.

    ResultsLibrary staff and information literacyDemographic data. Descriptive statistics indicated that 74.3 percent of the sample werewomen while 25.7 percent were men. The majority of the respondents (66.5 percent)

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  • graduated from the Library and Information Studies Department of the TechnologicalEducational Institutes (TEI), while 15.0 percent graduated from a UniversityDepartment, and 18.6 percent hold a bachelor degree in other disciplines. From the 167respondents, 63 (37.7 percent) hold a Masters degree or a PhD. From the above, 36 holda postgraduate degree in LIS and 27 in other disciplines. The majority (61.1 percent)reported that their main duty is processing library materials, while 32.3 percent statedthat they carry out administrative tasks, 47.3 percent provide reference services, and34.7 percent support the electronic systems of the library. It should be noted that in thisquestion the respondents could choose and in some cases did choose more than oneoption.

    Use of resources and library education programs. With regard to the use ofresources, the categorical variable indicated that 16.01 percent of the respondentsspend more than ten hours of their weekly time in information retrieval activities, 8.68percent spend seven to ten hours, 12.55 percent spend four to six hours, 19.20 percentone to three hours, 16.89 percent less than one hour and 26.66 percent do not performany kind of retrieval activities. Retrieval activities are considered any use of any kindof resources that can provide useful information. The least used resources, as seen inTable I, are discussion groups. For details about each item included in the use ofresources see Table I.

    The greatest percent (85%) of the respondents declared that their library providesan information literacy program. It was identified that 53 libraries were providingsome kind of instruction, out of the 67 libraries in which the respondents worked. Morespecifically it has been identified that many libraries offer more than one kind of usereducation program. According to their statements 41 (77.36 percent) libraries offeredan orientation program, 45 (84.9 percent) offered a few-hours seminar, six (11.3) aweek-seminar, 17 (32.0 percent) a program integrated in a course, seven (13.20percent) an online tutorial, 25 (47.17 percent) teaching information retrieval inspecific sources and nine (16.98 percent) a course integrated in the curriculum.

    Perceptions regarding library education programs. Most respondents (83.8 percent)declared that they are possibly, yes or positively, yes interested in teachinginformation literacy programs. As to the respondents perceptions regarding the waysinformation literacy programs may be improved, it seems that more money, morelibrarians, and space appropriately equipped are considered to be the best ways(mean 5.53 and 5.47 and 5.24 respectively), followed by librarians with educational

    Not at all ,1 1-3 4-6 7-10 .10 Missing Total

    1. Databases 10.2 11.4 30.5 16.2 11.4 18.6 1.8 1002. Books 20.4 26.3 22.8 13.2 5.4 10.2 1.8 1003. Journals 38.3 26.3 16.2 8.4 7.2 1.8 1.8 1004. www 1.8 4.8 15.6 22.2 17.4 37.1 1.2 1005. E-books 56.3 18.6 12.6 5.4 3.0 1.8 2.4 1006. E-journals 26.9 15.0 21.6 11.4 7.8 15.6 1.8 1007. E-mail 13.2 18.6 18.6 12.6 7.2 28.1 1.8 1008. Discussion groups 61.7 15.6 12.0 4.8 3.6 0 2.4 1009. OPAC 6.6 12.6 19.8 16.8 13.8 28.1 2.4 100

    Table I.Use of resources

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  • experience (mean 4.96), librarians with knowledge of scientific domain (mean 4.81),better technological infrastructure (mean 4.80), more time for designing the course(mean 4.77), cooperation with faculty (mean 4.34) and better library education(mean 3.41). (Table II)

    A good percentage of the respondents (49.1 percent) stated that they haveeducational experience and 46.7 percent indicated that they have participated in avariety of activities which they consider to contribute to the development of theirteaching ability. With regard to the skills that they consider important for teachinginformation literacy, it appears that respondents consider as less important the abilityto design the curriculum for the goal (mean 2.76) and as the most important theability to deliver lectures with appropriate pace and gestures (mean 5.40). For detailsabout each item see Table III.

    Information literacy trainersDemographic data. Half of the respondents (84 or 50.3 percent) declared that theyparticipated in an information literacy program as a trainer. From those 71.4 percentare women and 28.6 percent are men. The majority of the information literacy trainers(76.2 percent) hold a TEI degree, a small percentage (13.1 percent) hold a universitydegree in library science, and 10.7 percent of the trainers hold a degree in otherdisciplines. A total of 29.8 percent hold Masters degrees or PhDs in LIS and 11.9percent in other disciplines.

    Mean St. deviation

    1. More librarians 5.47 2.6742. Better library education 3.41 2.5043. Librarians with educational experience 4.96 2.6034. Librarians with knowledge of scientific domain 4.81 2.5855. Cooperation of librarians with faculty 4.34 2.7106. More time for designing 4.77 2.3397. Better technological infrastructure 4.80 2.2088. More money 5.53 2.6569. Space specifically equipped 5.24 2.681

    Table II.Ways to improve

    information literacyprograms

    Mean St. deviation

    1. Ability to design the curriculum for the goal 2.76 2.3232. Ability to match instructional method to a given objective 3.69 2.1023. Ability to match instructional method to a given academic level 4.45 2.1994. Ability to determine a reasonable amount and level of information to be

    presented in a lesson plan 3.94 1.9515. Ability to sequence information in a lesson plan 4.64 2.0546. Ability to construct assignments which reinforce learning in a lesson plan 5.07 2.1317. Ability to deliver lectures with appropriate pace and gestures 5.40 2.4708. Ability to stimulate discussion and questions 4.71 2.310

    Table III.Abilities for teaching

    information literacy

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  • Use of resources and library education programs. With regard to the use of resourcesthe categorical variable indicated that 18.65 percent of the trainers spend more thanten hours of their weekly time in information retrieval activities, 10.32 percent spendseven to ten hours, 13.49 percent spend four to six hours, 20.11 percent one to threehours, 17.06 percent less than one hour and 20.37 percent do not use any kind ofretrieval activities. The greatest percentage (95.2 percent) of the respondents teachinformation retrieval from OPAC, with teaching information retrieval frome-journals coming a close second (94 percent). For details about each variable seeTable IV.

    Perceptions regarding library education programs. Almost half of the informationliteracy trainers (49.4 percent) stated that they are quite capable and 26.5 percentvery capable in teaching the use of library resources. With regards to theimprovement of the programs, information literacy trainers priorities are slightlydifferent from the priorities of the other respondents. The least important, for allrespondents, was better library education (mean 3.35) and cooperation with faculty(mean 4.05). The most important for trainers was in descending order more librarians(mean 5.91), more money (mean 5.87) and space appropriately equipped (mean5.22).

    A total of 65.5 percent of the respondents declared that they have educationalexperience and 59.5 percent of them stated that they participated in a variety ofactivities which contribute to the development of their teaching ability. Morespecifically, 46.4 percent are self trained, 41.7 percent attended seminars, and 34.5percent received other forms of training. With regard to trainers priorities concerninginformation literacy teaching abilities, the least important, as for all respondents, wasthe ability to design the curriculum for the goal (mean 2.74), while the most importantwas the ability to deliver lectures with appropriate pace and gestures (mean 5.77).For details about each variable see Table V.

    Data analysisThe methods of Multiple Correspondence Analysis (MCA) and Hierarchical ClusterAnalysis (HCA) are two exploratory methods of multivariate statistical data

    Frequency Percent

    1. Information retrieval from OPAC 80 95.22. Information retrieval from e-journals 79 94.03. Information retrieval from databases 67 79.84. Information retrieval from internet or www 55 65.55. Use of printed reference sources 42 50.06. Use of printed journals 41 48.87. Compilation of bibliography 25 29.88. Evaluation of obtained sources 23 27.49. Citations 20 23.8

    10. Use of printed indexes and abstracts 19 22.611. Design and structure of a research paper 19 22.612. Development of a topic 18 21.4

    Table IV.Ranked list of the topicslibrarians include inlibrary use programs

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  • analysis used for dimensionality reduction and clustering interpretation, respectively(Benzecri, 1992; Greenacre, 1993; Lebart et al., 1984; Malliari, 2005). Both methodscan be used in a wide range of applications in order to identify systematic relationsbetween more than two variables, without any a priori expectations regarding thenature of those relations (Greenacre and Blasius, 1994; Clausen, 1998). MCA andHCA were used in order to analyze the questionnaires answered by those whoparticipated in an information literacy program as trainers. The variables used tocharacterize the data were the following: gender, academic titles, the mostappropriate for teaching library education, personal interest in teaching IL, theways library education may be improved, teaching experience, participation inany activities to improve teaching skills and the ways to improve the efficiency ofan IL librarian. Applying the MCA to the data and specifically to the Burt tablewith dimensions 186 186, where 186 are the categories of the variables, threegroups were brought out.

    One group consists of participants who are mainly men, without a master degreeand who consider the faculty in conjunction with the librarians as the mostappropriate for teaching library education. As far as concerns their beliefs about theways to improve library education, they regard as most important the teachingexperience and less important the funding and the space. The second groupconsists of trainers who are mostly women, without personal interest in teachingIL. These trainers think that librarians are the most appropriate for teaching libraryeducation, and with regards to the ways to improve library education, they consideras most important funding and space, and less important the cooperation with thefaculty, better education of the librarians and librarians teaching experience.Moreover, with regard to their conceptions about improving the efficiency of an ILlibrarian the first group considers as very important the ability to design thecurriculum for the goal and less important the ability to sequence information in alesson plan, while the second group considers as most important the ability todetermine a reasonable amount and level of information to be presented in a lessonplan, the ability to sequence information in a lesson plan, and to stimulatediscussion and questions; and as less important the ability to design thecurriculum for the goal. Last, there is the group of those trainers who did not haveany opinion regarding the ways library education may be improved and the waysto improve the efficiency of an IL librarian.

    Mean

    1. Ability to deliver lectures with appropriate pace and gestures 5.772. Ability to construct assignments which reinforce learning in a lesson plan 5.333. Ability to sequence information to a lesson plan 4.664. Ability to stimulate discussion and question 4.565. Ability to match instructional method to a given academic level 4.536. Ability to match instructional method to a given objective 3.927. Determine a reasonable amount and level of information to be presented in a

    lesson plan 3.908. Ability to design the curriculum for the goal 2.74

    Table V.Ranked list of perceived

    teaching abilities

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  • Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (HCA) was applied to logical table 0-1 withdimensions 84 186 where 84 are the subjects and 186 are the categories of the 26variables. The results brought out the following four clusters:

    The first cluster consists of the trainers (9.5 percent) who have not answered thequestions regarding the ways library education may be improved and the ways toimprove the efficiency of an IL librarian.

    The second cluster consist of those participants (35.7 percent) whose maincharacteristics are that they consider as more important space and funding, and as lessimportant teaching experience and librarians education, as far as it concerns theways library education may be improved. Moreover, they consider very important theability to construct assignments which reinforce learning and as less important theability to match instructional method to a given academic level, as far as it concernsthe ways to improve the efficiency of an IL librarian.

    The trainers in the third cluster (27.4 percent) consider as very important teachingexperience, followed by the cooperation of librarians with faculty, and as lessimportant space and technological infrastructure concerning the ways libraryeducation may be improved. However, as far as it concerns the ways to improve theefficiency of an IL librarian, they consider as more important the construction ofassignments, following the match of instructional method to a given academic level,and as less important the ability to design the curriculum for the goal and todetermine a reasonable amount and level of information to be presented in a lessonplan.

    The participants (27.4 percent) who comprise the fourth cluster are characterizedprimarily by the fact that they consider as very important the knowledge of thescientific domain, quite important the librarians better education along with theteaching experience, and less important the technological infrastructure and theequipped space for improving library education. As far as concerns their opinionsabout the ways to improve the efficiency of an IL librarian, they pay more attention tothe ability to determine a reasonable amount and level of information to be presentedin a lesson plan and less attention to the ability to construct assignments whichreinforce learning in a lesson plan.

    DiscussionLibrary staff and information literacyMost of the respondents of this study think that librarians should have theresponsibility to teach information literacy skills and that cooperation with faculty willprobably give better results, as it is also documented in information science literature.However, the respondents do not seem to be adequately information literate andtherefore to be able to introduce information literacy concepts to their users, given thata significant percentage (26.66) of them state that they do not use any kind of retrievalactivities. On the other hand, only 16.01 percent of the respondents spend more thanten hours weekly in information retrieval activities. It is also possible that a significantpercentage is not information and communication technology literate as in Adeyoyins(2006) study. It is also noted that most of the programs offered by libraries in the study,e.g. orientation programs a few-hours seminar or teaching information retrieval inspecific sources, should not be considered as programs which contribute effectively tothe development of information literacy. Nevertheless, almost 84 percent of the

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  • trainers, as in Dalrymples (2002) study, are interested in teaching information literacyprograms.

    According to their statements 17 libraries offer a program integrated in a course,nine libraries a course integrated in the curriculum and only seven libraries havedeveloped an online tutorial. Browsing the web sites of the above libraries for theironline tutorials, it was found that they mostly present the retrieval techniques of asingle source, such as OPAC or guides for library services. The aforementioned Greekreality stands in contrast with academic libraries in Europe and USA, in which acourse integrated in the curriculum, a program integrated in a course and onlinetutorials constitute the norm. However, it is common belief among Greek librariansthat academic institutions should develop a course integrated in the curriculum.(Korobili et al., 2007; Nikitakis et al., 2004; Kostaki, 2001; Tsimpoglou andPapatheodorou, 2001). It should also be noted that in the present study most of therespondents do not seem to support the perception of librarians all over the world,regarding the need to acquire pedagogical qualifications as it is documented byHomann (2003), Hardy and Corrall (2007), Meulemans and Brown (2003) and manyothers, since many consider more money, more librarians and a spaceappropriately equipped to be the best ways to improve information literacy programs.

    Information literacy trainersAs for the trainers in the study, it is noted that until now there are still people workingin libraries who have degrees in other disciplines (10.7 percent) and have been assignedthe duty of teaching the use of library resources. Almost all of the trainers are alsoassigned other duties. For example, one-third of the trainers (35.7 percent) are mainlyresponsible for supporting the electronic systems of the library and 59.5 percent workmainly in processing library materials. Therefore, one can assume that in Greece thereare not instruction librarians whose main duty is teaching information literacy skills.With regard to trainers teaching abilities one may wonder how capable they may be,since 46.4 percent are self trained, while 34.5 percent have received other forms oftraining. In Shonrock and Mulders (1993) study the respondents also stated that theyhad acquired the needed skills through on the job training and self teaching, but somehad acquired these skills through various kinds of formal education. Pedagogicalexperience presupposes teaching abilities, including theories of learning, instructionaldesign theories, and models and technology of instruction, such as multimediatraining. This knowledge can be acquired through a variety of types of education, butmainly through formal education, as is also suggested by Feret and Marcinek (1999).

    Results concerning librarians instruction to students provide an indication thatthey do not contribute much in developing information literacy skills. According to theaccepted definition of information literacy, evaluation of the obtained sources, as wellas effective use of the information are considered equally important in order forstudents to become information literate. In the present study a few trainers teachevaluation of obtained sources (27.4 percent), design and structure of a researchpaper (22.6 percent) and development of a topic (21.4 percent). These results maypoint out that in Greece not too much attention is paid to information literacy skills.With regard to trainers priorities concerning information literacy teaching abilities,the least important, as for all respondents, is the ability to design the curriculum forthe goal (mean 2.74) and the most important for trainers is the ability to deliver

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  • lectures with appropriate pace and gestures (mean 5.77) as it is in Shonrock andMulders (1993) study.

    Multiple Correspondence Analysis indicates a group that consists of mainly menwithout a master degree who consider as most important teaching experience. Thegroup of these trainers think that faculty in conjunction with the librarians are themost appropriate for teaching library education. This data may reflect their perceptionconcerning the lack of satisfactory teaching abilities. On the other hand, another groupthat comes to light is comprised mostly of women, without personal interest inteaching IL, but who believe that librarians should have the responsibility for teachinglibrary education. However, they consider that funding and space are the best way toimprove library education. One may doubt whether this group has realized howsignificant should be the contribution of librarians in developing information literacyskills should be, or how qualified they need to be. Cluster analysis has also affirmed theexistence of two groups, second and third clusters who have the same priorities asMultiple Correspondence Analysis manifests, with regard to what they consider asmost important for improving information literacy skills. However, as far as concernsthe ways to improve the efficiency of IL trainers there does not appear to be muchconsistency between the two techniques.

    ConclusionThis study contributes to the existing knowledge of information literacy skills byrevealing certain issues regarding practices in academic libraries in Greece andCyprus. The study indicates that the percentage of the respondents who use theresources of the libraries is relatively low. Also most libraries were found not to deliverinformation literacy programs, only some kind of library instruction, as documentedby the topics that the information literacy trainers teach to their users and the contentof online tutorials. As to the respondents perceptions regarding the ways informationliteracy programs may be improved, it seems that many consider more money, morelibrarians, and a space appropriately equipped to be the best methods. As for thetrainers, the study brings out two main groups, those who put emphasis on teachingabilities and/or pedagogical experience, and those whose priorities are infrastructureand funding. It has also been revealed that a good percentage of the informationliteracy trainers consider themselves as quite capable or very capable in teachingusers library sources, although most of them are self-trained or have attended aseminar regarding teaching experience. Finally, the study has also indicated that thereare no librarians whose main duty is to teach users library resources. In other words,there are no instruction or information literacy librarians.

    Generally, it can be said that the concept of information literacy has started to beintroduced in Greek academic libraries, but much work has to be done. The resultspoint out that still in Greece and Cyprus not much attention is paid to teachinginformation literacy skills. The present library education system in these countries, atthe undergraduate and graduate level, does not put emphasis on preparing students toplay an active role in the learning process and to contribute to the development ofinformation literacy skills. Therefore, there is a need for a continuing educationprogram focused on teaching librarians how to get involved in the information literacyprocess. They need to study theories of learning and instructional design theories andmodels. These issues should also be introduced in the Masters degree curriculum.

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  • Academic libraries, on the other hand, should encourage all their professionallibrarians, as well as other staff, to become information technology literate, and shouldassign the duty of preparing and teaching information literacy programs to librarianswho would also be responsible for cooperating with faculty for better results. In otherwords, the role of a library liaison needs to be articulated and promoted. Mostobviously, similar research needs to be duplicated in public, school and state librariesto determine whether the results can be generalized for Greek libraries. Moreover,further research needs to be conducted in the users of the academic libraries to specifyhow they actually interact with information, what kind of resources they tend to useand how they use them, so that librarians will be able to develop information literacyskills programs customized to their needs.

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    Further reading

    American Library Association (1989), Presidential Committee on Information Literacy: FinalReport, American Library Association, available at: www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlpubs/whitepapers/presidential.cfm (accessed 8 November 2007).

    Corresponding authorStella Korobili can be contacted at: koro@libd.teithe.gr

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