Consultations between librarians and faculty began in advance of the
semester, when the assignment and the course syllabus were in nascent stages.
For most participants—faculty and librarians alike—this conversation was new
territory. This approach allowed faculty and librarians to collaboratively build a
framework for understanding research processes, using library resources, and
designing in-person and online learning environments. Faculty were asked to
expand their notion of the types of expertise librarians could offer, and to see the
library as an extension of the classroom, incorporating use of library collections
and research-based learning as an integral component of their courses. Librarians
needed to develop an in-depth understanding of information literacy as it
applied to specific disciplinary foci and practices, and expand their repertoire of
approaches for providing effective instruction beyond the traditional one-shot
lectures.
Engaging Faculty, Students, and
Administrators Through New Roles
An extensive evaluation of the initiative’s impact has helped us begin reflecting
on our collective experiences.4 The Library’s Educational Initiatives Council has
begun creating a new framework for the instructional role of liaison librarians
and the organizational support required. The Council is comprised of library
staff from various disciplines and specializations, many of whom are library
liaisons to an academic department or academic support unit. In a recent
structured brainstorming process, the Council members created a list of possible
instructional roles and activities for library liaisons, then indicated which ideas
they felt would have the most substantial impact and which ideas they felt
comfortable personally implementing at this time.
One area of particular interest was a deeper engagement of library liaisons
with Deans, Department Chairs, and key faculty to better understand the
School’s, College’s, and department’s teaching focus, objectives, and challenges
for undergraduate and graduate students, and identify courses in which library
support would be most relevant. Currently no such conversations involve the
library liaisons. During the Mellon initiative, the AUL for Educational Initiatives
and Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education met with selected Department
Chairs annually to pilot these types of conversations; universally they revealed a
great deal of information about opportunities with individual faculty and larger
programmatic directions. When thoughtfully designed to elicit key information,
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Amplifying the Educational Role of Librarians
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C O N T I N U E D
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AUGUST 2009 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
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