Distance Library Services

In my library, I have responsibility for library services to our distributed (distance) learning students. Distance learning is new to me and I have my reservations about its academic integrity. The library can play a key role in having DL students meet academic expectations. My initial impression is that DL students do not make use of the library. There are a number of reasons why this may be.

Why use the library if your course readings are mailed to you? The DL programs are mostly certificates that would not have research assignments requiring library resources in the way that our degree programs require them.

DL students may have access to a public library closer to where they live that provides the necessary resources. I’ve read that often public libraries are surprised and burdened by distance students expecting sophisticated resources at the public library (and those students being completing unaware that they should have access to their DL institution’s resources). In a way, it makes sense to use the local library when resources are available.

Despite some technical problems regarding setting up library accounts for DL students, I would like to spend more time trying to reach more of these students. DL is only going to grow in the future, and library services need to be equitable for all students.

I’ve started working with an instructor in one of our DL certificate programs. While I was expecting reservations, she was eager to have me involved and we’ve set up me (as an embedded librarian) within her blackboard courses. Within an hour, I received an email from a student.

I’m trying this out with one program and seeing how effective the setup is. There is always the possibility of being overwhelmed with requests – and by nature, emails and chats have a certain sense of urgency for students. I’m excited about this project and where is may lead.

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