Unlocking Research Everywhere
The library at Champlain Saint-Lambert has an amazing support from our campus director, Don Shewan. He came to me a couple of years ago looking for a project idea from the library which targets students’ needs. I came up with the idea to develop more information literacy tools and videos, and as a result, Unlocking Research and its associated Glossary were created with the help of a grant from the Entente Canada Québec . Given the impact that we had with our students’ academic successes from that project, I can now expect a phone call asking, “Do you have a project?” whenever ECQ funding is possible.. I therefore need to keep scanning the blogosphere and twittersphere for trends in academic librarianship. This keeps ideas with respect to different technology related projects that could help not only our students but also other colleges and libraries within the province simmering on the back burner.
The Evolution of Unlocking Research
One of the first projects that we developed with the help of a grant from the Entente Canada Québec was the Unlocking Research website that walks college students through the research process. Many websites that do this in North America, but a lot of them are geared to more advanced topics such as how to write theses, which are too advanced for our students.
The ‘Unlocking Research’ Homepage showing the various sections
The idea came about exploring the website S’informer developed by Sandra Lenneville from the library at Cégep Gérald Godin. She had created a tool that was a level appropriate version inspired by the InfoSphère tool from the Université du Québec à Montréal. Sandra did her project with a Creative Commons license and gave us access to all of her code, so we just took that, adapted it into English, and that was the starting point for Unlocking Research.
We have since gotten grant money to increase the video content, use this content and get a glossary created for our francophone students. It’s an evolving, ongoing project. Too often, we find that we spend a lot of money creating websites and then they remain static because there isn’t the opportunity to adapt. For instance, you create videos on how to use the library website or how to use a specific database, and then two years down the road, you’ll cancel that database and replace it with something else. I must constantly ensure that everything we create remains current and more importantly relevant.
Interestingly in the francophone cegeps, the Bernard Dionne model is the standard citation model for French. Some are starting to move away from Bernard Dionne to replace it with a more standard citation style such as APA. They’re starting to develop tools, but I already have one in English. As Unlocking Research was also developed with a Creative Commons license, we have offered to send the content to other cegeps so that they can adapt it to their needs. It’s something that we are pleased to offer to others to take.
When I heard about Mon Diapason initially, I thought this could be an interesting project to supplement videos that we had in Unlocking Research. We received some money and within the time frame felt we could get two or three capsules done. We ended up doing one. It’s not available yet as we are finalizing a copyright issue, but this is how we’re trying to tie in with what is being done in the francophone community by making similar content available within the anglophone community.
Francophones and anglophones have similar issues. We all teach the same generation of students with the same problems, so it’s only natural to try to get together. We may not be able to use the same tools, but at least we can share some ideas and adapt.
Unlocking Research in the Classroom
What I tell librarians new to the college network who are trying to promote their services is to latch on to the teachers that come into the library as they are interested otherwise they wouldn’t be in the library. Also, promote your services everywhere, like in the line of the cafeteria. Then, find one teacher, do something absolutely amazing and then have that teacher talk to their department.
You try to find your advocate, a teacher with whom you have a connection and develop that relationship. Because of this process, we’re fortunate here in being totally embedded within the first level Humanities courses. Using Unlocking Research, we were able to upgrade a more traditional hands-on practice type assignment to a Moodle quiz that is graded. Over the years we have been able to get other teachers from other departments to come simply by word of mouth. We have this partnership with the Humanities, and people ask how we can do similar sessions within their disciplines.
We regularly give sessions in ISSS, IM, Tourism. We recently developed a session on evaluating website for a new Sports Psychology teacher. The senior teacher then came to us and said
For my class, I want what you did for the other class. Sometimes you have a full two-hour session in the library, but sometimes we’ll just go to class for fifteen minutes, introduce Unlocking Research and show the students some specific parts of it like Evaluating Websites and trying to be critical about what they consult. These sessions allow us to introduce the library staff to the students in the classroom.
Humanities teachers came to us last winter seeking a second session specifically on plagiarism and MLA citation style. They recognized that students were having difficulties and that we could help. Students often have difficulties with how to recognize the elements of a bibliography because it’s one thing to have the students try to do a bibliography, but if they don’t recognize the difference between the article author and the editor of a book or the title of a book and the title of the chapter, it won’t work. We have to walk through that with students. So now, we’re building another session which is also Moodle based in order to do this.
Our Champlain Lennoxville campus students are partnered with the Bishop’s University Library, but because of licensing issues they do not have remote access to Bishop’s databases. Modifications to our license agreements now allow us to share our databases with Lennoxville students. However, not everybody has the opportunity to learn how to use the databases specific to Champlain. A recently received Entente Canada Quebec grant will focus on modifying our existing Humanities Moodle session for virtual/distance learning purposes. It’s just going to be more self-paced.
Communication Between Two Solitudes
Working together with the francophone community over S’Informer and Mon Diapason, we have benefitted greatly. In English, however, the results may not necessarily be on the Mon Diapason platform but appear elsewhere such as on sites like Unlocking Research. Materials in English can be drawn from sites worldwide, French resources have a more limited market. In Quebec, we are learning to express our differences but work together on the many points in common between our linguistic communities. The recently created Regroupement des bibliothèques collégiales is bringing libraries from both communities together in the prospect of collaboration. The fruit of this increased collaboration will be, in the end, to the benefit of the students in both our communities.