Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/Online Books

The Role of Online Books and LibrariesEdit

Information and Reference ServiceEdit


As institutions that document the human record, libraries existed as early as the third millennium B.C.E. (Krummel, 2002). Libraries and librarians play a role in collecting, preserving, conserving, organizing books and prints for effective use by their patrons. This commitment has been fulfilled for thousands of years until recently due to the rapid growth of knowledge. Because we are in an information age, a frenetic era which has resulted in an information overload beyond an individual’s control, librarians stand fast and stick to their traditional commitment of making information available to their communities and users. They will effectively provide a vast array of information services and apply information technologies to the services for their diverse users. This article presents basic concepts of information and reference services in American libraries.

The Challenge: Information Age i It seems impossible not to mention information age while we discuss information and reference services in libraries. It has changed the world dramatically and tremendously. Information age or the so called information era has great impacts on the modern world. Daniel Bell published his book - The Coming of Post-Industrial Society in 1973. He identified the coming of information age with revolution which would mark a complete break with the industrial past (Harris, 2002). The following passage explains why the age is so challenged and unique:

"The sum total of humankind’s knowledge is doubled from 1750-1900. It doubled again from 1900-1950. Again from 1960-65. It has been estimated that the sum total of humankind’s knowledge has doubled every five years since then…It has been further projected that by the year of 2020, knowledge will double every 73 days (as cited in Gillani, 2003)."

We are living in a time when knowledge is doubled every five years. We treasure the value of knowledge because it is a representation of human wisdom and intelligence. In the past, knowledge was well kept in print and saved in libraries. Now, it is no longer one organization's role to manage such huge amount of knowledge. Libraries are unable to control how information is preserved or accessed. This has resulted in a cultural shift. Instead of libraries and librarians being the gatekeepers to information, information is now readily available.

According to Bell, information age is a name given to a period after the industrial age and it has been used to refer to the present economic era. Several revolutionary inventions generate the birth of this new era. Samuel F.B Morse’s invention of electrical telegraph in 1837 is considered the beginning of the information age. With this device, information can travel distances in seconds. Others inventions such as the typewriter, calculator, telephone, radio, and television were followed by his invention. Since the 1980s, personal computers have become available. With a personal computer, the user can easily produce and access information. We entered the era of “information age” in 1980. Information has become accessible via the Internet all over the world. In 1989, the invention of the World Wide Web made the Internet really take off as a global network. In order to transfer and retrieve information on the Internet, digital format has been quickly adopted by users. Texts, images, sounds, movies, and all kinds of media are digitized. Now, the Internet is the ultimate place to accelerate the flow of relevant information. These revolutionary spread of integrated digital communication systems has dramatically complicated and influenced modern society (Harris). Now, information can be presented in various formats other than print and it can be transferred long distance within a click.

It was never considered that humankind had the ability to create more information than individuals can absorb (Gillani, 2003). With such amount knowledge and limited budgets, libraries had difficulties in keeping collections and patron’s needs in balance, and failed to keep up with information technology. Debates on libraries and librarian’s role in the era had been going on for decades in the late 20th century. The information revolution has put great pressure on libraries as they try to find their way through this dramatic and rapid shift. Fortunately, it didn’t take too much time for librarians to confirm their mission and to adopt information technology which not only has its impact on library services such as providing digital information, but also changes library development from inner and outer aspects. Nowadays, almost every library provides Internet access to its patrons via wireless connects and dozens of personal computers available to the general public and librarians today use an astonishing array of resources as they connect people with information and ideas (Harmon, Charles, and Symons).

Information as Commodity

As mentioned earlier, Bell’s prediction has come true. He pointed out that the information society would be characterized by a change from a goods-producing to an information-producing society. He also believed that information would come to represent the most important commodity sold in the new electronically linked world marketplace (Harris, 2005). Two decades later, his prediction was confirmed by Bill Gates, the president of Microsoft, who noted in his 1995 book titled "The Road Ahead" that digital information had indeed become a central commodity in a massive global information marketplace. Nowadays, a person who doesn’t know about using a computer and searching on the Internet is considered computer illiterate. It becomes more and more difficult to locate a piece of information without having some information literacy or digital literacy skills. Information overload even causes information anxiety. Many users are even willing to pay to find information efficiently. Information and information services have become commodities that users unwillingly purchase. The term, “Electronic Commerce”, interprets commercial transactions that use any electronic communications facilities. However, it is widely adopted in the 1990s to describe business transactions involving the Internet.

By the early 1990s, several factors began to make the idea of commerce over the Internet both feasible and attractive. A related development was the improved capability and availability of U.S. and international telecommunications infrastructures, including the gradual introduction of digital technologies. Networked microcomputers were replacing mainframes and were generally accessible to businesses. Uniform packaged software platforms (operating systems) were widely adopted. The Internet began to establish itself as a global network, and in 1991, the set of instructions underlying the World Wide Web (WWW) were written. This allowed both the display of graphics as well as text on the web pages and the introduction of "hyperlinks," allowing easy movement from one web-page or site to another. This was further enhanced in 1993 by the development of Mosaic, the first "browser" (and predecessor to Netscape Navigator). With these changes, the Internet has become more "consumer friendly." Then, in 1995, the National Science Foundation (NSF) surrendered its role in managing the Internet to private enterprise, opening up its full commercial potential (Taylor, 2002). As of 2000, the businesses primarily receiving profits from use of the Internet were companies facilitating electronic commerce, rather than the online businesses themselves. It is clear nonetheless that there is an extraordinary expansion of e-commerce around the world. This global growth of electronic commerce has raised significant regulatory and legal issues at the national and global levels. The resolution of these issues may either facilitate or hinder the growth of e-commerce.

In the late 20th century, digital information had indeed become a central commodity in a massive global information marketplace. The emergence of digital information such as e-books, e-journals, and hypertext writing systems appears to be “rapidly undermining previous commitments to the print-on-paper communication system that played such a fundamental part in constituting the libraries of the world” (Taylor, 2002). Issues such as preservation, conservation, distribution, ownership, and copyright of digital information, as well as training library personnel and users required comprehensive consideration to make further movement. It is also true that the commodification of information and privatization of information delivery system may lead abandonment of the idea of information as a public good. Librarians and others remain skeptical of the idea that it is conducive to the democratic process (Harris).

Through close collaboration with experts of information technology and sharing resources and experiences with other librarians improves the quality of the services provided. It seems everyone now concurs with information as a commodity, but many people still remain troubled by the implications of the dramatic and relentless commodification of information.

Information and Reference Services in Library

According to Standard Committee, Reference and Adult Service Division, the outline of library services includes information service at a desk, interlibrary service, bibliographic service, correspondence, document service, and orientation and instructional service (as cited in Katz and Tarr, 1978). It should be noted that the information services mentioned above is being used in the broadest sense of the term library services and includes all traditional reference and information services.

Reference service is one of several library services. The term "reference service" is defined as personal assistance provided to library users seeking information (Huling, 2002). Samuel Rothstein (1961) noted "May I remind you that in the United States of less than a century ago the library still took no responsibility whatsoever for the provision of personal assistance to its users." He called reference service the new dimension in librarianship in his article. Librarians, or reference librarians, usually start reference service from an interview at a reference desk with their library users. Through the interviews they identify what the user needs and what information might be helpful for the user. Reference service enlarges library services and provides interaction between librarians and their users. Yet, there are some challenges to put it into practice in the field. Rothstein pointed out that “help” is a great tent of a word that embraces an enormous range and variety of activities. For example, questions related to medical and legal issues (Crocker) may twist the virtue of reference service. Wyer (1930) identified three concepts of reference work: conservative, liberal, and moderate philosophy. The conservative philosophy instructs users in how to find the information on their own. The liberal philosophy holds that the reference librarian should locate the information for the user and provide it in the form needed. The moderate philosophy recognizes that maximum assistance will be offered based on a combination of library staffing, resources, time factors, and user need. The latter approach balances the instructional function with the full-service mode. Debates on these issues raged in the 1960s and 1970s, but they have abated as reference librarians have determined that a balanced approach takes into account the needs of the user at a particular time.

Traditionally, reference service is offered in a face-to-face environment at a reference (information) desk. With revolutionary information and communication technologies, reference service now can be available via telephone, e-mail, and some web-based applications. Meanwhile, libraries also develop complex systems that consist of many procedures and functions which have included acquisition of materials, cataloging and classification, circulation and interlibrary loan, serials management, and reference services (Beheshti,2002).

Francis J. Witty introduced some excellent collections of reference books. He mentioned that reference collection is the fourth most used collection after general stacks: periodicals, newspapers, and reserve. Reference collection includes the following heading listed in alphabetical order: Agriculture, Astronomy, Bibliography -Catalogs, Biography, Calendars-Almanacs, Cookery-Dietetics, Dictionaries, Encyclopedias-Encyclopedic Learning, Epitomes, Folklore-Marvels, Genealogy, geography –Travel-Foreign Customs, Grammar, History-Annals-Chronological Tables, Law, Literature, Mathematics, Medicine, Political Science-Government, Technology-Engineering. Reference books as well as the other collections in libraries are gradually digitized. Michael Levy’s study concluded that by the year 2020 some 90 percent of books sold would be published as e-books.

With more and more digital collections and online service, libraries burst with speed connecting users and information. As Huling noted that modern libraries provide a strong link between the highly technological information environment and the users, advising on search strategies that help the user to focus the topic better and evaluate the information even as the user is able to access library catalogs and databases from home, office, and school.

The Future: Digital Library

An example of a totally digital and commercial library would be Microsoft's http://Corbis.com. This huge database comprises the largest collection of digital art and photography in the world, and half a million individuals visit this digital art library each day via the Internet. In the past, the library was a building that was expensive to build and operate. Being in the digital era when someone might think books are dead, with or without a physical environment, a digital library is definitely the future (Harris).


American Library Association, Reference and Adult Service Division,Evaluation of Reference and Adult Service Committee. (1995). The reference assessment manual. Ann Arbor, MI: Pierian Press.

Beheshti, J. (2002). Library Automation. In Jorge Reina Schement (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Communication and Information, Vol. 2. (549-553). New York: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved December 01, 2007, from Gale Virtual Reference Library via Thomson Gale: <http://find.galegroup.com/gvrl/infomark.do?&contentSet=EBKS&type=retrieve&tabID=T001&prodId=GVRL&docId=CX3402900157&source=gale&userGroupName=indianastateuniv&version=1.0>

Gillani, B. B. (2003). Learning theories and the design of e-learning environments. New York: University Press of America

Huling, N. (2002). Reference Services and Information Access. In Jorge Reina Schement (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Communication and Information, Vol. 3. (867-874). New York: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved December 01, 2007, from Gale Virtual Reference Library via Thomson Gale: <http://find.galegroup.com/gvrl/infomark.do?&contentSet=EBKS&type=retrieve&tabID=T001&prodId=GVRL&docId=CX3402900240&source=gale&userGroupName=indianastateuniv&version=1.0>

Harris, M. H. (2002). Libraries, Functions and Types of. In Jorge Reina Schement (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Communication and Information, Vol. 2. (531-538). New York: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from Gale Virtual Reference Library via Thomson Gale: http://find.galegroup.com/gvrl/infomark.do?&contentSet=EBKS&type=retrieve&tabID=T001&prodId=GVRL&docId=CX3402900153&source=gale&userGroupName=indianastateuniv&version=1.0 >

Katz, B. and Tarr A. (1978). Reference and information service. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.

Krummel, D. W. (2002). Libraries, History of. In Jorge Reina Schement (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Communication and Information, Vol. 2. (539-541). New York: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from Gale Virtual Reference Library via Thomson Gale: http://find.galegroup.com/gvrl/infomark.do?&contentSet=EBKS&type=retrieve&tabID=T001&prodId=GVRL&docId=CX3402900154&source=gale&userGroupName=indianastateuniv&version=1.0

Taylor, R. D. (2002). Electronic Commerce. In Jorge Reina Schement (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Communication and Information, Vol. 1. (290-295). New York: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from Gale Virtual Reference Library via Thomson Gale: http://find.galegroup.com/gvrl/infomark.do?&contentSet=EBKS&type=retrieve&tabID=T001&prodId=GVRL&docId=CX3402900089&source=gale&userGroupName=indianastateuniv&version=1.0 Information Age, Retrieved November 10, 2007, from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information_age

Integrating Library Resources into Course Management SystemsEdit


New technologies and programs for learning are transforming higher education institutions at an unprecedented rate. Libraries have been the mainstay in colleges and universities around the world for centuries. It is here that the learner can seek, find, rummage through, and summarize knowledge resources. It is here that learners feel the presence of thought leaders in any discipline they desire. It is here that the starting point for millions of inspired individuals takes place each day. Yet it is also a place in trouble and in need of revisioning so that libraries can lead and support the learning quests of the twentyfirst century.

One area of obvious change and transformation in higher education is the emergence of blended and fully online learning. But it is not just the emergence, but the quick embracing of it by tens of thousands of learners as well as countless educators, policy makers, and other world leaders. Universities have fashioned new undergraduate, master's, and doctoral degrees as well as certificate programs. As colleges and universities increase the number of online courses and hybrid or blended courses that they offer, it is imperative that the library finds ways to support this new type of teaching and learning environment. If libraries fail to provide support, they risk being regarded as irrelevant at a time when they may be able to offer services and support in ways that were unimaginable in the past. In the OLCOS Roadmap 2012 (2007), libraries are viewed as an inhibitor in that they may have difficulty finding their place a technology-focused world - that is, unless they learn to better adapt to online environments and the behaviors exhibited in these spaces. Further, as more online resources become available, libraries must find ways to purchase and market these resources to students in both hybrid and distance education courses. With so much information freely available, it is also important for libraries to assist students in evaluating the information available. This is particularly true when reviewing and selecting online sources that can be written by anyone.

The library can play a major role in assisting students in becoming critical thinkers and life-long learners. However, to be successful, they must take advantage of new technologies and the learning preferences of digital natives as well as digital immigrants such as the so called "Baby Boomers." In order to adequately support the 21st century classroom, libraries must know what students and faculty want or need from the library. To determine students needs, the library must first understand them--their culture, learning preferences, technology backgrounds and experiences, and learning goals. Through online and traditional face-to-face courses, colleges and universities are now serving a wide variety of students. Students currently enrolled in academic institutions are extremely different from students in college 20 or 30 years ago. Those enrolled in courses now are nontraditional students such as Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), as well as students referred to as the Net Generation, or those born after 1980 (Hartman, Moskal & Dziuban, 2005; Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005).

The Net Generation (Net Gen), also referred to as Digital Natives, are students that are “accustomed to multimedia environments: figuring things out for themselves without consulting manuals; working in groups; and multitasking” (Lippincott 2005. Net Gen students are comfortable with technology and spend a lot of time using social software such as Facebook, MySpace, and instant messaging. Net Gen students often prefer instant messaging and text-messaging to e-mail. In addition, these students “are more comfortable with image-rich environments than with text...and will refuse to read large amounts of text” (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005). They also prefer to learn through by discovery instead being told. It should be noted that any person that uses technology heavily will exhibit characteristics of the Net Generation regardless of age (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005). Christopher Dede (2005) at Harvard also recognizes the effects of technology on individuals, regardless of their generation, and refers to the formation of a neomillennial learning style.

Different students have different needs. This can be seen in the dissimilarities between Baby Boomers and Net Gen students. For example, Baby Boomers did not grow up with technology and sometimes have trouble getting technology to work for them. They are also used to being told how to find or locate information. When these students return to school they are most interested in convenience and flexibility, and ultimately obtaining a degree or certificate. In addition, they report being generally satisfied with online courses. This is in contrast to traditional-age students who are often interested in the social aspects of college. (Oblinger & Oblinger, 2005). The challenge for librarians, as well as everyone in higher education, is to provide meaningful learning to digital natives who are technologically-savvy, as well as Baby Boomers who may not be as comfortable navigating various online arenas. Libraries have to provide instruction and other services that will address the needs of both groups of students - individuals who very often want information in different formats.

While younger students tend to be more visual and like to explore instead of being told information, they also want personalized assistance. In addition, these students expect services to be relevant to their needs and available at the point of need. To help deal with this challenge, the Association of College and Research Libraries, a professional organization which focuses on issues important to libraries in higher education, adopted the “Guidelines for Distance Learning Library Services” ([1]). Many libraries use these guidelines when developing and evaluating services for distance education students. Among other things, these guidelines recommend that distance education students receive access to services and resources that are comparable to those received by students and faculty in traditional face-to-face courses.

Course Management Systems

The current trend in libraries to support e-learning and hybrid courses is by incorporating library services and resources into Course Management Systems (CMS). CMS are online software applications that assist faculty in using technology. They typically include discussion boards, online chat, and email. Syllabi, announcement boards, and digital drop boxes are also available to help instructors manage course information for individual classes (Gibbons, 2005a). While the term CMS itself is extremely common, these types of software applications are referred to by many names, including virtual learning environments (VLEs), course-management software packages, course management systems, learning-management software, e-Courseware, and virtual courses (Gibbons, 2005a).

Since students frequently use CMS to access course information, libraries have begun to support student learning by incorporating their own component into the CMS. Another reason why libraries are investigating the addition of library services to CMS is that students are more interested in resources that are applicable to a particular course. While it is true that libraries frequently set up their websites to support student research based on discipline, this does not help students who are looking for specific resources and may not think of materials in terms of particular disciplines (Reeb & Gibbons, 2004). Because of this, libraries have realized that their services and resources must be incorporated into the CMS, as the CMS can “serve as the door to the library” (Gibbons 24).

In her article “Strategies for the Library: CMS Integration Barriers,” Gibbons discusses two ways of incorporating the library into the CMS: at the macro-level and micro-level. At the macro-level, the library is added to the CMS in a more basic manner. A link to the library’s web site or online catalog can be added to the main menu; alternatively, a subject guide relevant to the course can added to the CMS (Gibbons 24). Libraries can also create videos or podcasts that explain how to use resources or teach students concepts such as effective search strategies. These resources can then be added to the CMS for students to access. The CMS can also be set up to allow students to instant message librarians. This would allow students to easily send messages to the librarian when they need help.

Students who visit the library’s web site may find it difficult to locate the appropriate resources. By adding these features to the CMS, students are able to quickly locate library resources and communicate with a librarian. While these tools can also be put on the library’s web site, many students may not visit the library’s web site when doing research. Instead, they may first go to Google or another search engine. In the end, adding a library component to the CMS may result in more students using library resources. When this occurs in large scale or small scale online learning initiatives, the role of the is definitely enhanced.

While the macro-level integration is a way to easily incorporate the library into a course, that alone merely provides general support designed for a large group of students. Certianly, some students may find this to be beneficial; however, it is not the personalized and individualized assistance that many Net Gen students desire. One way to provide more fine-grained (i.e., micro-level) or personalized assistance to these students is through a course guide instead of a subject guide. A course guide can include a list of specific resources appropriate for a particular class. At Indiana University at Bloomington, for example, librarians create course guides that often include the librarian’s contact information, recommended key words, and a list of the best resources for locating materials for course assignments.

Another innovative approach that may satisfy the needs of the Net Gen students is known as the “embedded librarian.” The Community College of Vermont is one institution that allowed librarians to be teaching assistances for online courses. In this situation, the librarians participated in discussion forums related to research assignments. The librarians were also able to post research tips, as well as set up online discussion forums explaining their role and inviting students to ask questions. These services were ones that the students at this institution appreciated and responded to in a positive manner. For this type of program to be successful, however, the library needs to have the support of faculty – individuals who traditionally are not accustomed to having librarians involved in their courses. Those involved in the program also found that this service is more successful when faculty encourage students to take part in the discussions. Additionally, it is critical to provide access to the librarians at the point of need, such as when students are working on a research paper (Matthew and Schroeder 61).

Other ways librarians can interact with students is through virtual office hours. Details about this service can be conveyed to students in three ways: first, librarians who have course privileges can send an email message to students notifying them of their hours; second, an announcement can be posted to the CMS; and third, the librarians can ask instructors to convey this information to the students. Gibbons discusses Cox’s suggestion of sending out a notice as to the time the librarian will be logged in and asking students to stop by to discuss their research (Gibbons 31). To accommodate the greatest number of individuals, librarians can contact students to determine what days and times would fit their schedules. If possible, librarians can also have office hours more than once a week.

In order to serve the needs of certain types of students, after-hours and more informal sessions may be needed. Because Net Gen students as well as non-traditional students may stay up until the early morning hours, librarians can assist by offering reference beyond the normal hours. For distance education students, it may be important for librarians or support staff to hold office hours in the evening or at night. During mid-terms and final exams, the librarian can schedule “night owl hours” to appeal to students who need help at the last minute. If an online course has social interaction activities such as coffeehouse hours, librarians can join in these activities, as well.

There are many benefits related to the micro-level integration of library services into the CMS. Because students may view these materials as part of the course, they may be more likely to utilize library services if they are embedded into the CMS. Also, librarians who are successful in establishing a positive relationship with students through their interactions in the CMS can be helpful contacts in the future should a librarian not be part of the ensuing courses. Due to the increased exposure to and familiarity with these resources and services, students may also seek out the library in general such when doing research in the future.

While there are many positive aspects associated with this approach, it is important to keep in mind some of the challenges librarians may face, as well. For example, the primary disadvantage of adding a library presence to the CMS is that it is extremely time consuming. Most librarians do not have time to serve as an embedded librarian or hold virtual office hours. While creating course pages can be less demanding, it too can be time consuming depending on the tools available in the library. However, some librarians have found that an efficient way to create a customized guide is by building on a more generic one. Instead of creating totally new guides for each course, the librarian can add or remove resources as necessary from a generic guide. The micro approach also requires the librarian to rely on the faculty member. If faculty members do not allow the librarian to take part in the course in a meaningful way, then it does not benefit the student.

Course Management Systems Frequently Used At Institutions of Higher Education

Course Management Systems Descriptions

Website: http://www.angellearning.com/

Angel Preview: http://www.angellearning.com/Global/AccountRequest/accountRequest.asp

Migrate to Angel Learning Management System: http://www.angellearning.com/applied/migrate/

Teaching & Learning with Angel LMS Webinars http://www.angellearning.com/webinars/default.html

Known as a learning management system instead of a course management system, ANGEL strives to support teaching and learning by offering a suite of tools to assist educators in managing courses. ANGEL is also designed to meet the needs of students by including tools that appeal to various students’ learning styles.

Clients include K-12 market as well as higher education and the business sector.


Website: http://www.blackboard.com

Blackboard Preview: http://coursesites.blackboard.com

Building Blocks Overview http://www.blackboard.com/dev/DevOverview.htm

Works primarily with K-12 market as well as higher education, corporations and government. Blackboard’s Course Management System, the Blackboard Learning System, is the most frequently used CMS among colleges and universities in the United States. Blackboard recently bought, WebCT another CMS popular with academic institutions.

Website: http://www.desire2learn.com

Desire2Learn Preview: http://www.desire2learn.com/demos/

Provides an adaptable suite of applications to support course management, which are known as the E-Learning Enterprise Suite. The applications included in the suite are Desire2Learn Learning Environment, Desire2Learn Learning Repository, and Desire2Learn Live Chat. They also offer Desire2Learn Essentials for smaller institutions. Clients include the K-12 market, higher education, business, government, and healthcare.

Website: http://moodle.org/

Moodle Preview: http://moodle.org/course/category.php?id=2

Moodle News http://moodle.org/mod/data/view.php?id=6140/

Moodle is an open source course management system. It can be customized to be used by one teacher as well as institutions with 200,000 students. Moodle is used in 196 countries with users who speak over 70 languages.

Website: http://sakaiproject.org/

Sakai Video: http://www.sakaiproject.org/media2/2006/overview/overview.htm

Sakai Course Management Systems:

Sakai is an open source course management system development by Indiana University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and University of Michigan. Sakai now has approximately 100 institutions in its partner programs.

Marketing Library Services

Regardless of the approach used, macro or micro, it is important for librarians to market their services. The library often offers services that faculty and students (both face-to-face and those taking courses at a distance) do not realize exist. In a study on Pennsylvania State University’s World Campus (note: Penn State World Campus courses are conducted at a distance), the results indicate that students were “relatively uninformed of the wealth of library resources and services afforded them”(Moyo & Cahoy 352). However, if students know about the services, then they are more likely to use them.

One method for marketing the services is to do so via the CMS. The CMS administrator can include campus news and updates in a highly visible location, such as the main menu. Library news and offerings can be added to the campus news section to allow students to learn of new services (Lawrence 237). The library can also add an RSS feed to the CMS to enable students to subscribe to news updates. In addition, the librarian can add an RSS feed to individual course pages that would allow students to be notified when the page is updated. If the instructor already has an RSS feed, the librarian can ask the instructor to add library content to the feeds. Ultimately, the hope is that these actions will increase the likelihood that the students will access library generated content.

As mentioned earlier, part of the library’s success relies on faculty buy-in. Students are more likely to use the library if the faculty member requires or recommends the use of library materials and services to students. Instructors spend a substantial amount of time with students and can be an effective means of generating interest in the library.


While Course Management Systems may require more work for librarians due to the responsibility of creating and updating tutorials and guides that are added to the CMS, when effectively planned out, designed, and integrated, librarians will have a stronger connection to faculty and students. To create customized guides, librarians will need to have a deeper understanding of individual courses, which will result in librarians communicating more frequently with instructors (Gibbons 44). As a result of the close contact with faculty, librarians will also know when course offerings change and when instructors decide to take a new approach to teaching a course. Librarians who have a more intimate knowledge of courses can order materials that will benefit the courses being taught, which will also improve the collection development for that subject.

At a time when the relevancy of libraries are often questioned in higher education--especially in situations wherein higher education is being required to constantly assess the teaching and learning environments--a CMS can offer librarians a way to remain relevant to both students and faculty. Through increased interaction, both students and faculty will be able to see the difference a librarian can make in courses. This type of presence also sends a message to students and faculty that the library is concerned with their needs. To more fully realize the potential of libraries in the CMS, librarians need to encourage library vendors to utilize OpenURL options and allow feeds to be generated from electronic resources (Gibbons 45) Moreover, librarians need to form a partnership with faculty, as well as the Information Technology department, to be active in the development of the CMS and promote the addition of library services into the CMS whenever possible.

We are in a world rich with information and learning opportunities. With proper vision and leadership, libraries will continue to offer access to these resources for the vast majority of learners. This is a key point since the number of learners continues to proliferate each year with additional fully online and blended learning opportunities. As such, the role of the library in this online world should simultaneously rise in prominence as well. We will see.


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Matthew, V., Schroeder, A. (2006). “The embedded librarian program.” EDUCAUSE Quarterly 29(4), 61-65. <[8].>

Mutinta M. L., & Cahoy, E. S. (2006). “Library use in the e-learning environment: A profile of Penn State' s World Campus faculty and students.” Journal of Library Administration 45(3/4), 339-359. <[9].>

Oblinger, D. G., & Oblinger, J. L. (Eds.). (2005). Educating the Net Generation. Boulder, CO: EDUCAUSE, 6.1-6.11.

Reeb, B., & Gibbons, S. (2004) “Students, librarians, and subject guides: Improving a poor rate of return.” Libraries and the academy 4(1), 123-130. 16 November 2007.

The Librarian’s Role in supporting Online Learning : How the Librarian can support online courses


The rapid evolution of information technology has contributed to more information exchange and information needs from library and librarian. In the new digital age, students need to find and use various online resources. And in this technology-focused era, information literacy is gaining importance. In the 21st century, librarians face more challenges due to recent technology growth; thus, necessitating a professional and user's depth dependence more than was experienced just 10 years ago. How can we play the role of Librarian 2.0 in supporting online learning? These are issues that are discussed in this section.

The Role of Librarian 2.0

In light of the rapid evolution of technology and information, today’s librarian must learn how to use and access information through the latest technologies, such as RSS, wikis, blog, podcasting, and open access resources. As David Lee King (2007) suggests, those who are a Librarian 2.0 have a Library 2.0 job. To King, this is obvious. He states that if the job consists of implementing emerging web 2.0 technologies and other trends, then the individual is probably a Librarian 2.0. In some cases, the job title may be different, but part of the tasks involves the implementation of emerging trends regardless. This could be as part of the librarians’ job or activities they do as part of their professional interests. Alternatively, the use of these technologies may not be part of the job. In the librarians’ personal time, they may author a blog, set up a Facebook account, or monitor multiple instant messenger accounts.

Stephen Abram (2006), Vice President for Innovation at the SirsiDynix, believes that the Librarian 2.0 understands their users at a deeper level, understands end users in terms of their goals and aspirations, workflows, and social and content needs. In other words, he considers the Librarian 2.0 to be a “guru of the information age” (Abram, 2006). To summarize, Abram points out that the Librarian 2.0 strives to do the following: understand the power of the Web 2.0 opportunities; learn the major tools of Web 2.0 and Library 2.0; and combine e-resources and print formats. Abram also notes that the Librarian 2.0 is container and format agnostic; is device independent and uses and delivers to everything from laptops to PDAs to iPods. He also notes that these individuals develop targeted federated searches and adopts the OpenURL standard; connect people and technology and information in context; doesn’t shy away from non-traditional cataloging and classification and chooses tagging, tag clouds, folksonomies, and user-driven content descriptions and classifications where appropriate.

Moreover, Abram argues that the these librarians embrace non-textual information and the power of pictures, moving images, sight, and sound; understand the “long tail” and leverages the power of old and new content; and see the potential in using content sources like the Open Content Alliance, Google Print, and Open WorldCat. And finally, Abram ends his list by suggesting that those who fit the Librarian 2.0 model connect users to expert discussions, conversations, and communities of practice and participates there as well; use the latest tools of communication (such as Skype) to connect content, expertise, information coaching, and people; use and develops advanced social networks to enterprise advantage; connect with everyone using their communication mode of choice – telephone, virtual reference, i.e. Skype, IM, SMS or email just to name a few; encourage user driven metadata and user developed content and commentary; and understands the wisdom of crowds and the emerging roles and impacts of the blogosphere, Web syndicasphere and wikisphere. Are you beginning to prepare to become a Librarian's 2.0? Did you think Stephen Abram’s suggestions will difficult to accomplish? In the next paragraph, I will introduce the skills and traits of the Librarian 2.0.

The Skill of Librarian 2.0

Technology is changing rapidly, and with these new devices come an increase in the amount of information that is available. This in turn places more demands on the reader. How do individuals prepare to become a Librarian 2.0 and support the user’s online learning needs? Those who want to become a Librarian 2.0 and focus on reference services can follow Michael Stephens’ (2007) outline of Librarian 2.0 skills. He argues individuals who are classified as a Librarian 2.0 must do the following:

  • Librarian 2.0 plans for his users: This librarian bases all planning and proposals for services, materials and outreach on user needs and wants, and tells users how resources and funds will be expended.
  • Librarian 2.0 embraces Web 2.0 tools: This librarian uses Instant Messaging (such as AIM, MSN, Yahoo, Google talk messengers)to meet users in their space online, builds weblogs and wikis as resources to further the mission of the library, and provide RSS service to announce the newsletters, and mashes up content via API (Application Program Interface) to build useful Web sites.
  • Librarian 2.0 controls techno lust: This librarian does not worship blindly information and technology. This librarian uses technology to meet the needs of users and improve the users' experience.
  • Librarian 2.0 makes good, yet fast decisions: This librarian recognizes how quickly the world and library users change with advancing technology.
  • Librarian 2.0 is a trend spotter: This librarian seeks out information and news that may impact future services, and understands the impact of technology on users.
  • Librarian 2.0 gets content: This librarian understands that the future of libraries will be guided by how users access, consume and create content. In addition, this librarian will help users become their own programming director for all of the content available to them.


After reading the pronouncements made by individuals, such as Stephen Abram and Michael Stephens, will librarians have a clearer understanding of the Librarian's 2.0 or have confidence to become a Librarian 2.0? The work by Stephen Abram and Michael Stephens can be used as a strategy guide, and both authors provide suggestions that can serve as a good model for any level library of librarian. If individuals in this profession are prepared to adopt the role and acquire the skills of a Librarian 2.0, then it is likely that they will be in a position to provide good service and suitable online instruction for their users. Although using new technology as a teaching tool can be an extremely laborious process, helping users find the information they need is an essential part of the librarians’ mission.


Abram, S. (2006). Web 2.0, library 2.0, and librarian 2.0: Preparing for the 2.0 world. SirsiDynix OneSource. Retrieved December 1, 2007, from [10]

King, D. L. (2007, August 1). Am I a 2.0 librarian and the library 2.0 spectrum. Retrieved December 1, 2007, from [11]

Stephens, M. (2007). You gotta hold on: Creating socially present web-services in libraries. Retrieved December 6, 2007, from [12]