Title Background Executive summary Recommendations for future continuing education programs Detailed Results

ACRL/STS Section Continuing Education Survey 2018

STS Professional Development Committee


The ACRL Science and Technology Section (STS) Professional Development Committee conducted a survey in the spring of 2018 to identify the continuing education interests and needs of its membership. In spring 2018, the survey was distributed through the discussion list of the Science and Technology Section of ACRL, STS-L.

The survey was designed and prepared by the members of the STS Professional Development Committee. Amy Jiang administered the survey and compiled the results. This report was prepared by Alyssa Valcourt. Questions about this survey may be directed to Abbie Basile, abasile@odu.edu or Chapel Cowden, chapel-cowden@utc.edu. The results of the survey with an executive summary are presented below.

Executive summary

The survey was distributed from mid-April 2018 to May 11, 2018. A total of 115 responses were received which was slightly less than the 137 responses received for a similar survey that was undertaken by the STS Professional Development Committee in 2015.

A vast majority of the 2018 survey respondents (97%) were academic librarians. 47% of respondents indicated over 10 years of work experience. There was an 8% decline in response rate from this population since 2015 (55%). The lowest response rate was from those with 3-5 years of work experience (13%) which aligns with the 14% response from librarians with less than three years of experience in 2015. There has been a slight rise in response from librarians with less than three years of experience (19%). Although 41% of the respondents indicated having an undergraduate science degree, 55% librarians showed that they have gained experience as science librarians by working in academic libraries.

In perhaps our most significant and immediately applicable findings, most librarians surveyed (78%) showed a preference towards receiving continuing education via webinars and teleconferences, closely followed by a preference towards receiving continuing education at conferences or preconference workshops (74%). Other suggested preferences included self-paced learning modules, science boot camps, and departmental seminars. Only 19% of respondents were interested in taking credit courses. When asked what types of credit coursed would be preferred, librarians voted for distance education (46%), MOOC (36%), and post-MLS/MLIS certification program (32%).

The survey presented a list of 36 pre-selected topics with the intent of gauging potential interest of science librarians for professional development activities. Survey participants were asked to rate interest on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being “least interested” to 5 being “most interested.” Five topics ranked at the top of the survey. The first one was “Data Literacy Instruction” with a score of 3.97. The second one was “Library Instruction” with a score of 3.96. The third top ranked topic was “Evaluating existing services/developing new services” with a score of 3.93. The fourth was “Consultation and collaboration with faculty and students” with a score of 3.9. The fifth was “Data manipulation and analysis” with a score of 3.83. Looking at topics science librarians were most interested in for professional development, the highest rated topics could be separated into three categories- data literacy, research and publishing tools, and new and current library services. “Managing Approval Plans” and “Working with Consortia” received the lowest scores. This is not surprising considering that Acquisitions and E-resources librarians at many institutions undertake most of these roles.

Other ranked topics in which respondents showed interest included specific subject areas, marketing, data visualization, developing a research agenda, budgeting, and impact factors, citation metrics, and altmetrics. While pre-selected topics were available, the survey did ask if any other topics could be of possible interests to science librarians for professional development activities. One group of responses focused upon scarcity of resources and/or space and staff consolidation, particularly as it relates to STEM librarianship. Another group of responses had a strong focus on the research process including access to data, research in progress resources, and new publishing models.

Recommendations for future continuing education programs

The drop in participant responses to this survey and consistent low response rate from science librarians who have been in the field less than five years suggests steps are needed to raise awareness of STS and have more of a presence in offering or highlighting professional development for science librarians.

There is a great interest among science librarians to use free resources to obtain professional development in the areas of interest. Preferred modes of learning include webinars, virtual pre-conferences, or self-paced learning modules. Professional development topics of interest include science-specific library instruction in the classroom/lab, data literacy, teaching the research process from start to publication, and new and current library services.

By providing webinars, the STS Professional Development Committee could become more visible, create partnerships with other organizations, and provide free professional development at a time where library budgets are struggling.

Detailed Results

Q.1 Where do you work?

Answer Options Response Percentage
Academic library112 97.4%
Corporate library00%
Government library21.7%
Public library00%
Other type of library or library organization00%
Do not work in a library1.9%

Q.2 How many years since receiving Master’s degree in library science?

Answer Options Response Percentage
Less than 3 years2219.1%
3-5 years1513%
6-10 years2420.9%
More than 10 years5447%
Degree in progress00%

Q.3 What is your background in the Sciences, Applied Sciences, or Engineering? (Mark all that apply)

Answer OptionsResponsePercentage
No educational background1714.8%
Some undergraduate study2219.1%
Undergraduate degree4740.9%
Some graduate study1210.4%
Master’s Degree2723.5%
Continuing education1412.2%
Library work experience6355%
Non-librarian work experience2622.6%
Others (please specify)43.5%

Q.4 How would you prefer to receive continuing education? (Mark all that apply)

Answer OptionsResponsePercentage
Credit course2219.1%
Conference or pre-conference workshop8573.9%
Other workshops1513%
Consulting with mentor3127%
Webinars or teleconferences9078.3%
Web-based information6758.3%
Other (please specify)87%
Other (please specify):
Something that comes with practice, hands-on, exercises, etc.
Years ago they had these things called books.
Self-Paced Learning Modules, online synchronous or asynchronous workshops/hands on style webinars
Free or low-cost virtual webinars/courses
Departmental seminar
Science boot camps
Working with colleagues; updates, as from STS lists; ALA sessions

Q.5 What types of credit courses would you consider taking to further your education? (Mark all that apply)

Answer OptionsResponsePercentage
Classroom-based course3026.1%
Distance education5346.1%
Within an ALA approved MLS/MLIS program1513%
Within a post-MLS/MLIS certification program37 32.2%
Undergraduate or Continuing Education course in assigned subject areas2824.3%
Undergraduate or Continuing Education technology skills course1916.5%
Not interested in credit coursework3833%

Q.6 On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being “least interested" and 5 being "very interested," please indicate how interested you are in learning more about the following continuing education topics.

Answer Options12345Rating Average
Data literacy instruction 5 8 20 35 47 3.97
Library instruction 5 7 20 39 44 3.96
Evaluating existing services/developing new services 6 4 24 39 42 3.93
Consultation and collaboration with faculty and students 4 5 25 45 36 3.9
Data manipulation and analysis 8 7 25 32 43 3.83
Specific subject area librarianship 6 7 26 39 37 3.82
Marketing library resources and services 4 9 28 38 36 3.81
Data visualization (labs, services, etc.) 5 14 20 37 39 3.79
Research data management 7 10 29 27 42 3.76
Impact factors, citation metrics, altmetrics 5 10 26 41 33 3.76
Developing a research agenda 9 8 29 35 34 3.67
Embedded library services 8 10 27 42 28 3.63
Open access publishing models 7 10 33 40 25 3.57
Grant writing 5 16 33 36 25 3.52
Diversity and Inclusivity 13 13 24 36 29 3.48
Managing and utilizing usage statistics 11 15 29 33 27 3.43
Copyright issues 9 13 36 40 17 3.37
Collection development in specific subject areas 12 17 30 34 22 3.32
Professional advancement 8 16 36 41 14 3.32
Linked/open data 17 16 25 27 30 3.32
Video tutorial applications 10 18 38 28 21 3.28
Programming (e.g. in Python, R, etc.) 13 28 19 26 29 3.26
Developing management skills (budgeting, supervision, personnel recruiting, training, performance evaluation, etc.) 16 17 32 35 15 3.14
Patent and trademark sources, searching, etc. 15 16 35 38 11 3.12
Institutional repositories 14 22 38 28 13 3.03
LibGuides 16 24 37 22 16 2.98
Web page design 20 25 34 21 15 2.88
Discovery services 15 25 43 27 5 2.84
Mobile apps 19 28 36 24 8 2.77
Managing electronic journals: purchasing, subscribing, platform/license issues 27 30 25 16 17 2.7
Makerspaces 24 29 38 12 12 2.64
Managing archival rights 20 37 35 13 10 2.62
Managing e-Books: purchasing, subscribing, platform/license issues 34 26 24 15 16 2.59
Patron-driven acquisition 30 28 25 27 5 2.56
Working with consortia 34 20 34 20 7 2.53
Approval Plans 38 31 32 13 1 2.2

Q.7 Are there topics not listed in the previous question that you would like to learn about? Please list them here.

Total responses received were 20. The topics suggested were as follows that are grouped under broad headings:


Specific Subject Area Librarianship/STEM Librarianship

Research/Scholarly Publishing

Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship No. 95, Summer 2020. DOI: 10.29173/istl60