A guide to developing end-user education programs in medical libraries
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This book is aimed at any library staff involved in or with an interest in end-user education. It appears at a time when there is a heavy emphasis on the librarian's role as teacher, and works hard to reinforce the point, drawing in key topics such as evidence-based practice and information literacy. The text comprises 18 case studies of user education programmes in various US medical libraries. These programmes largely target students (medical, physiotherapy, veterinary, etc.), but other user groups are included in the book. Each chapter is laid out in a consistent, structured format so for any case study it is possible to quickly identify the organization type and background, detail of the education programme and any evaluative assessments and conclusions. There are plenty of ideas to be found in this book. The programmes detail a wide range of educational approaches, from tutor-led and selfdirected learning to on-the-job training and offsite learning. The teaching methods are also richly varied, from traditional classroom demonstration and accompanying computer-based exercises to the setting of involved problembased activities. In each case, it is possible to see how the libraries involved have tailored their programmes according to best practice and, perhaps more importantly, what works well in their environment. There is no shortage of forward thinking. As a single example: one institution trains students specifically in free, openly available resources with the explicit intention of preparing them for the more limited access opportunities available in the real world. This cannot fail to make one think about the resource leap that students entering the NHS or UK private health-care sector have to make. There are some genuinely thoughtful approaches taken to user education in these case studies. Refreshingly, other related and important issues appear from time to time, such as poor attendance at training sessions and steps taken that can be taken by an organization to address this problem. Possibly the best bits of the book, however, are the various appendices to the case studies. These include programme outlines, test questionnaires, evaluation forms and results, and a genuinely useful source of material for any library trainer. The book does have weaknesses. For the UK reader especially, the US and medical emphases mean that some ideas simply don't translate, and a certain amount of work would be required to implement other ideas successfully. Also, many of the organizations in the case studies are educational institutions: only one out of the 18 case studies is of a hospital library programme. In places, there is an almost overwhelming amount of detail that can make reading a bit of a challenge, although this is offset to a degree by the structured format, which allows the reader to skip through to more interesting sections. On occasion, some of the case studies seem to lack a little by way of reflection. A great deal of work has obviously been put into development of education programmes and their evaluation, but there doesn't always seem to be a clear link between the teaching and evaluation and the resulting conclusions. On these occasions, this can lead to the odd sense that the programmes are more teachercentric than learner-focused. Overall, if you are coming to user education afresh, it might be worth considering other texts on the subject before using this one. If you have a more seasoned involvement, however, this book will offer food for thought and at least a few new ideas to help supplement and improve your existing programmes.
Unversity of Nairobi