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TAPin: Training and Awareness Programme in networks

Project web site

Programme area
Training and Awareness

Contact details
Prof. Judith Elkin, Project Co-ordinator,
School of Information Studies, University of Central England, Perry Barr, Birmingham, B42 2SU
Phone: 0121 331 5625 Fax: 0121 331 5675

Dr Kay Flatten, Project Manager,
Centre for Information, Research and Training, School of Information Studies, University of Central England, Perry Barr, Birmingham, B42 2SU
Phone: 0121 331 6671 Fax: 0121 331 5675

Ms Linda Newall, Research Assistant,
Centre for Information Research and Training, School of Information Studies, University of Central England, Perry Barr, Birmingham, B42 2SU
Phone: 0121 331 6671 Fax: 0121 331 5675

Project description

as of May 9th 1997


New developments in network technology offer both threats and challenges for academic library staff and their customers. The current landscape in British Universities is marked with unevenness and incompatibility in desktop computing access to external networks. Windows based Internet access and email are the most common denominators at present. These are not yet satisfactory document delivery mechanisms; however, developments are rapid in these important areas. These constant technological developments continue to overshadow the accompanying cultural change. Academic and library staff and their managers struggle to find money and time to stay abreast of IT changes. The Electronic Libraries Programme, eLib, in the UK has offered an impetus in both important areas.

TAPin seeks to improve the quality of teaching and research staff output by identifying staff information needs, and developing their information skills. It aims to emphasise to the end-user academics, and thus ultimately to the students, the benefits which can be gained by an understanding and awareness of networked information resources appropriate to specific disciplines.


Six universities have collaborated on the project: Aston University, University of Birmingham, University of Central England, Coventry University, University of Warwick, and University of Wolverhampton. The focused and practical approach used in the project has involved subject and systems librarians working with the Centre for Information Research and Training (CIRT) within the School of Information Studies at the University of Central England, Birmingham. The project assumes that subject librarians have a lead role to play in this process and that they are best placed to perform the skills highlighted by Follett and Fielden ie, teaching/learning skills, tailored navigational support skills. It is essential, therefore, that library staff are equipped with appropriate teaching and network skills to support, train and advise academic staff and to help them evaluate the best resources for teaching and research. CIRT has managed the project through the following three stages:
  1. Skills and awareness audit: CIRT investigated the IT resources, strategies and cultures of academic departments in each university. The departments used in the project are Education, Life Sciences and Law, and Business Studies has been used as a benchmark.
  2. Developing network awareness and skills: Education, Life Sciences and Law librarians developed skills in the use and transfer of networked resource skills. The trained librarians then transferred these skills and resources to relevant academic staff.
  3. Impact study: It is necessary to understand the impact that the project has had on the collaborating institutions, this has involved the research team revisiting the academic departments to review the impact that increased network use has had on the IT resources, strategies and culture.


The TAPin deliverables are:
  • a greater understanding of the nature of networked information use in a collection of diverse universities
  • a "toolkit" for identifying "departmental cultures" involving awareness, acceptance and exploitation of networked information
  • examples of tailored awareness programmes devised by librarians well versed in their subject areas.
  • a research report documenting the impact of awareness programmes on "departmental cultures."
The integrated and co-operative research and training which are fundamental to the development of TAPin will be reproducible and transferable nation-wide and across disciplines.

A number of models are being developed by the team and these will also be available at the Web site. The models are "toolkits" that are intended for use by other institutions that wish to roll-out a similar education programme for staff and they can be adapted to provide for almost all library situations. This "toolkit" will help organisations to identify:

  1. WHAT is required in the form of hardware and software
  2. WHEN it is required and in what form
  3. SKILLS that the organisation needs to train staff to support
  4. RESOURCES to support the staff working with these technologies
  5. STRUCTURES for dealing with future developments/needs identified


The results of the project are being disseminated throughout the project in written articles, conference exhibits and papers and in reports. By the end of 1997 the research staff will be reporting on increased awareness and use of network resources among teaching staff and administrators in the selected subject areas.

The Annual Reports and general information about TAPin can be found on the TAPin Web Site.

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The Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib) was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)
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