October 2004

emerging technologies in instruction, instruction section, acrl

October 2004 Site of the Month

Library Online Tutorial: Foundations of Searching Library Resources


Authors: Alison H.Y. Chan; Paul T.P. Lee

Institution: Hong Kong Baptist University Library
Interviewer: Michael Pasqualoni

Face-to-face library tours, orientations and workshops are valuable approaches in promoting information literacy. However, only a portion of Hong Kong Baptist University Library’s user groups can be reached through these channels. To further extend library programs, this online tutorial was created to provide a flexible delivery channel to accomplish that goal on a 24/7 basis. The major benefit of the project is to deliver the library information literacy program to all types of users on campus. More importantly, users can also access the program from home or anywhere through the Internet.

Interview with Alison H.Y. Chan:

Q. What was the motivation for creating the "Foundations of Searching Library Resources" tutorial?

A. Nowadays our library provides access to electronic resources and a variety of online services to users on campus and off campus. The primary concern of the online tutorial is to extend our library instruction programs without physical and time limits. Users can also reinforce library skills learned in workshops. The tutorial provides a channel for different levels of users to acquire library skills in an asynchronous way. It is an alternative for part-time students who may not be able to attend face-to-face library instruction workshops due to time/class clashes with their own schedules. We also want to stimulate students’ interest in learning library skills by using graphics, animations and interactive components.

Q. Can you tell me a little bit more about how long it took to create this and also, who else was involved in its creation and design?

A. It took about four and a half months to create, including the process of designing content structure, writing content script, recruitment of a student helper and writing HTML pages. To complete the project, a student helper was recruited for graphic design, and writing HTML. Members of our Reference team commented on the script.

Q. How about technology, can you describe for me some of the specific information technology that was used to construct this tutorial?

A. Software like Dreamweaver, Photoshop and Flash were used to construct the tutorial and to enrich the content with interactive elements. JavaScript was also used in the quiz section. The tutorial is posted on a WebCT platform. With the assistance of our Information Technology Services Centre, we also streamlined access to the tutorial for guest users, who are able to enter it without needing to type an ID and password.

Q. Please describe how this tutorial is currently being used at Hong Kong Baptist University (for example, is it targeted toward any particular group of faculty or students; how is it being combined with other aspects of your reference & user education program)?

A. The tutorial provides an online course for new comers (i.e., Year-1 students), and those who want to reinforce their library skills and refresh what they have learned. Year-1 students are required to attend a library workshop and complete the online exercises included in the tutorial to fulfill the requirement of a “University Life” course. Students are encouraged to visit individual modules on-demand to reinforce what they have learned.

Q. How was this project funded?

A. A proposal was submitted to get funding from “Teaching Development Grants.” The University initiated the Teaching Development Grants (TDG) scheme in the 1994-1995 academic year with funding from internal sources and later supplemented by funds received from the University Grants Committee (UGC). UGC is a non-statutory advisory committee responsible for advising the Government on the development and funding needs of higher education institutions in Hong Kong. Funded projects focus on using innovative approaches to enhance teaching and learning experiences for students.

Q. Reflecting on your work on creating this, what do you believe is the tutorial’s strongest feature?

A. Simulation of the searching process of the library catalogue and electronic databases. This helps users visualize those procedures. In some cases, users can actually input a term and try out a real search.

Q. Did you learn any lessons when creating it? If you had the opportunity to do this project over again, would you do anything differently?

A. During the creation of the tutorial, we found that some interactive effects written by the latest Flash version could not be shown on campus browsers with a lower Flash version as plug-in. Therefore, application of the latest technology may not be workable sometimes. At present, the tutorial is in English only. Considering Hong Kong is a bilingual city, it would be beneficial to have a Chinese version. Also, there is no text version for the visually impaired. It would be nice to provide for the special needs of that group. Another idea is to perhaps create a simplified version that introduces information literacy skills to secondary school students and the general public.

Q. Would you like to offer any advice for other professionals looking to create a similar project at their own educational institution or library?

A. One needs to decide what kind of technology is to be used and whether it is supported on campus. If you are not a “techie,” make sure that you have recruited someone who can deal with technical issues in creating animations, and interactive effects. And regularly monitor progress, especially if you have a very tight schedule.

To contact the authors of Library Online Tutorial: Foundations of Searching Library Resources, please write or call:

Name: Alison H.Y. Chan; Paul T.P. Lee
Institution: Hong Kong Baptist University
Email: hychan@hkbu.edu.hk; plee@hkbu.edu.hk
Phone: (852) 3411-5255; (852) 3411-5233
Fax: (852) 3411-7373
Address: Reference & User Education Section
Kowloon Tong, Kowloon
Hong Kong