Law librarianship - legal research: The past, present and future of the specialised course delivered by Queensland University of Technology
080799 Library and Information Studies not elsewhere classified
130399 Specialist Studies in Education not elsewhere classified
Legal research skills
Online learning and teaching
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AbstractWith the support of the Australian Law Librarians’ Association, <i>Queensland University of Technology</i> (QUT) offers a specialist course for people who are new to, or are planning, a career as a law librarian. First developed as a five-day face-to-face intensive program, the Law Librarianship: Legal Research course moved to an online environment with eight weekly classes. As Brisbane-based students also have the opportunity to meet on campus, the course may also be viewed as an example of hybrid learning. Participants may complete it as a professional development activity, or gain academic credit by completing the assessment tasks. The course provides a structured program of activities to introduce students to the range of legal information resources relating to Australian law and develop the skills required for effective legal research, with additional learning support offered by experienced law librarians through a mentoring program. Currently, students participate in classes using Blackboard Collaborate as the online learning platform, with a range of textual and audio-visual resources available to extend their learning. Social media tools are also used to build a community of learners. However, with the academic learning environment changing rapidly, new educational technologies offer different approaches to learning and teaching, with learners’ expectations also shifting. Despite the impetus for change, the authors acknowledge that the course represents a successful brand which is respected by a range of stakeholders across the law library sector. In order to map the future, the authors have reviewed the legal research course from a number of perspectives: participants who have completed the study program, prospective students, employers in diverse law libraries across the country, mentors who have shared their knowledge and expertise, and the teaching team at QUT. The article seeks to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the program as it has evolved over the decade since its launch, and to consider the opportunities and challenges the course developers face as they determine the best way forward.