Woes of Technology…

The continued wanderings of a newly minted librarian….

On our community college library website we have a really nifty set of Bibliographic Instruction (information literacy) tests …. A pre-test and a post test. These are designed for students to take before (pre) and after (post) having a bibliographic instruction session with a librarian. They would be a wonderful source of feedback on what the students are getting out of the session and for someone who has never used the library, the pre-test is quite informative in itself.

These tests even look cool…They are hosted by Zoomerang which does online surveys… so these are kind of modified surveys.  The pre-test is 19 questions including name of professor and class. They are all multiple choice with nice radio buttons for selecting your answer. In all they are easy to use and should be an excellent tool for our librarians.

Notice the word SHOULD. These wonderful resources are, alas, not used. WHY? You ask… well, it is because of how they are hosted. The librarians don’t have access to any of the surveys/ test answers. They must talk to another department who collects all the information from the Zoomerang folks and then does who knows what with that information (disperse it to appropriate departments one would hope). Well, those folks don’t seem to want to be checking for submissions of library questions and repeated requests have apparently gone unanswered. Of course, I am not exactly in the loop so there could be other factors involved such as the format in which Zoomerang sends results.

I guess my point is that this wonderful tool is not so wonderful because librarians don’t have direct control over getting the results when they need them. There are so many other issues that we should be focusing our time on such as thinking of ways to get the students to take the pre and post tests (small class assignment like a one to 5 point grade or perhaps extra credit [both of which depend on the students’ professor in order to be effective but which would not require the professor to do much other than telling the students to do the tests]). In stead theses tests sit idle on the library website and our librarians have to think up other ways to get feedback.