Delivering mobile library services: Competency implications for vocational education and training library staff

Saravani, Sarah-Jane (2013) Delivering mobile library services: Competency implications for vocational education and training library staff. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Abstract or Summary

The global, economic imperative for a highly-skilled, flexible workforce has resulted in institutions of higher learning investing heavily in sustainable infrastructure for information and communication technologies in education. Mandatory integration of technology into all aspects of education has resulted in a proliferation of computing hardware within learning spaces and a focus on professional development and support for teaching staff to enable effective use of technology. Research shows the current usage trend is towards technologies that allow individual mobility and, increasingly, contextualisation, and this is expected to continue. Academic libraries have long featured at the forefront of technological advances, as demonstrated in the magnitude and complexity of new technologies informing operational and strategic decision-making. However, the development of library services delivered to mobile technologies appears ad hoc and inconsistent. The library and information science profession needs to demonstrate competence in the implementation of mobile technologies and resultant service delivery in order to maintain relevancy in a rapidly-changing technology environment. The lack of professional capabilities and preparedness of library staff as a contributing factor to the ability to leverage the potential of mobile technologies has attracted minimal investigation. The importance of providing empirical evidence of acceptance and use of technology by the academic library profession is crucial in ensuring future delivery of uniformly-high quality education. Information on the impact of mobile technologies on vocational education and training sector libraries in Australasia is virtually non-existent and this creates a barrier to progress. The present research addresses these issues by examining the mobile technology competencies and knowledge required of vocational education and training (VET) sector library staff and their preferred methods of acquiring such expertise. A qualitative approach was considered most useful for understanding the problem under investigation. The research design involved a constructivist epistemological perspective, wherein meaning is constructed by participants rather than discovered. It included a phenomenological methodological perspective involving the collection of large amounts of rich data, which seeks the opinions and interpretations of participants and focuses on contextual description and analysis. An inductive enquiry approach was followed, allowing patterns to emerge suggesting relationships from analysis of the data. Grounded theory was selected as an appropriate research methodology, as it allowed for a process of generating theory through procedures involving constant comparison and testing of emergent concepts. Triangulation of data collection methods enabled data to be collected from the purposefully-selected sample of library staff and student library users across 42 VET sector libraries. Data was collected through in-depth interviews and self-administered online survey tools. Repeated comparative analysis of the data resulted in a theoretical continuum being established which led to the development of an integrated theoretical model. Key findings from the research established that library staff, particularly longer-serving staff, were keen to acquire mastery of mobile devices. Competency acquisition was considered crucial to working effectively in the mobile environment and to offering the sorts of services and assistance expected by students. Staff believed attitude, adaptability and a willingness to experiment were important. They considered access to mobile devices and time to experiment with them to be crucial to success. The ability to link new technologies with new opportunities and to be able to deliver service through a different medium was also regarded as critical. Length of employment was revealed as an unsuitable gauge for effort to learn new technology competencies. The role of professional position appeared as a stronger influence on perceptions of ability to learn new technology. Personal levels of competency with mobile devices were not shown to be a major influence on staff attitudes; however, greater technology competence was associated with increased expectation that the organisation would provide the necessary supporting infrastructure to enhance successful technology rollout. Preferred methods of professional development delivery were hands-on, self-paced learning with guidance or training provided by a trusted, expert colleague available to assist at point of need. The study findings highlighted the complexity of the relationships that influence technology acceptance and organisational outcomes. Recommendations are offered for additional testing of the integrated theoretical model developed, continued research into the area of library service delivery, and expanding the findings of the present Australasian VET sector study through comparative investigations to inform decision-making into mobile library service delivery.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Keywords that describe the item:mobile libraries, vocational education and training (VET) libraries, technology acceptance, mobile library service delivery, workplace training
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Subjects:Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > ZA Information resources
Divisions:Corporate > Library
ID Code:3272
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Deposited On:19 Aug 2014 21:52
Last Modified:19 Aug 2014 21:55

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