Provision of Distance Learner Support Services at U.K. Universities: Identification of Best Practice and Institutional Case Study

  • Brooke C
  • McKinney P
  • Donoghue A
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Abstract

An investigation of library support for distance learners (DLs) was commissioned and conducted in partnership with the Distance Learning Support Service (DLSS) at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU). It aimed to collect evidence of best practice at U.K. university libraries and develop a better understanding of the needs and expectations of distance learners at SHU. The study used a mixed-methods research strategy. A review of the literature established key themes and informed the design of the data collection tools. Librarians from two different institutions were interviewed, and two separate self-completion questionnaires were distributed to librarians at U.K. universities and DLs at SHU. Sixty-six librarians (forty-one completed in full) and 112 DLs (109 completed in full) responded to the questionnaires distributed. Results showed limited use of synchronous virtual reference and user-education tools. The biggest challenge faced by librarians is collaborating with course tutors. A marked difference exists between what librarians believe are the most significant challenges faced by DLs and what DLs identify as challenges. Librarians need to experiment with technological innovations, such as synchronous virtual referencing tools, to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of future service provision. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

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Authors

  • Charlotte Brooke

  • Pamela McKinney

  • Angie Donoghue

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