Publication Details

This article was originally published as Lipu, SM and Peisley, EH, Keeping our Academics on the Cutting Edge: The Academic Outreach Program at the University of Wollongong Library, Proceedings of the Revelling in Reference 2001 Symposium, Reference and Information Services Section of the Australian Library and Information Association, Melbourne, 12-14 October 2001.


In the higher education sector, developing students' information literacy skills has been a hot issue in policy making and program development for almost a decade. But how do academic staff develop and maintain their information literacy skills? How do they cope in an increasingly electronic environment? In 1999 the University of Wollongong Library introduced an ambitious program coined Academic Outreach which targeted 100% of academics campus-wide. Identified as a strategic initiative of the Reference Services team, the program was designed to keep our academics on the cutting edge of information sources in their field. The aim was to help them explore the myriad of electronic resources available from their own desktop and foster skill development in using these resources. A systematic approach was adopted which involved: developing promotional strategies; setting a timeline and targets for actual visits; allocating human resources and undertaking in-house training; creating a content checklist; Faculty Librarians venturing out to the academics' offices to provide individual, tailored instruction; regular communication and review. A comprehensive evaluation from the perspective of both the academics and Faculty Librarians was also undertaken. This paper traces the program from its inception to its evaluation and highlights the enormous benefits gained by everyone involved.