This study examines the use of library resources by full-time and professional MBA students of the American University of Armenia. First, the students are surveyed on the use of information sources available online and at the library, as well as on the importance of different factors in their assessment of the quality of the information source. Second, in two elective courses, the use of library resources for research project assignments is made mandatory to (1) help students understand the role of the library in the increasingly complex Information Age, and (2) assess their information competence.
Academic libraries around the globe spend billions of dollars on the purchase and support of electronic library collections, research databases and other information resources. Such expansive investment in information technology clearly demonstrates its critical role in the academic curriculum and research activities of the university faculty and students. However, with the popularity of the Internet ever increasing, it is not uncommon for many students and even faculty members to start searching for relevant information online rather than at a library.
The printed, electronic and audio-visual resources found in the library have almost always been thoroughly evaluated by experts before being published or released. On the contrary, there is no review or screening process on the Internet, and there are no easy or agreed-upon standard ways of identifying credible information sources. The Internet gives its users access to so much information that it is easy to become overwhelmed.
While universities have invested heavily in technological innovations and state-of-the-art information resources, they have been slow in educating the end users how to employ these modern tools effectively. The learning environments at universities must be restructured so that they make full use of the available resources as well as meet the objectives of educating information literate citizens of the world – people who have learnt how to independently seek for the information they need, how to evaluate, analyze and synthesize it, how to make sound judgments, and, finally, how to generate and communicate new ideas and knowledge. Information literacy is also increasingly important in the contemporary global environment of rapidly growing information sources and choices. Information is available through the Internet, libraries, media, community groups and special interest organizations; it comes in a variety of forms, often of questionable quality, increasingly diverse in opinions and viewpoints, and overwhelmingly abundant.
With the objective of assessing the use of library resources by students of the American University of Armenia, I conduct a case study. First, I survey first- and second- year students enrolled in full-time and professional MBA programs of the College of Business and Economics on the use of information sources available online and at the library, as well as on the importance of certain factors in their assessment of the quality of the information source. Second, in two elective courses taught by me in Spring 2015 semester, I make the use of library resources mandatory for research project assignment in order to (1) help students understand the role of the library in the Information Age, and (2) assess their information competence. The results of the study will be summarized in early May and presented at the AMICAL 2015 Conference.
The underlying theme of this study is to emphasize the importance of formal information literacy programs in institutions of higher education, either as an integral part of academic curriculum or through compulsory library instructions. Information literate students will be more inclined to extend their learning after completing their studies as, in addition to academic degrees, they leave universities knowing how to learn.