This Week in LIS - 14 March 2014

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Headline of the Week:  Information and Technology Literacy:  Collaboration - A Competitive Advantage

On March 11, the Managing Director of Ithaka S+R sent out an e-mail saying the results of the US Library Survey for 2013 were now available. The 2013 report examines how the leaders of academic libraries are approaching systemic changes in their environment and the opportunities and constraints they face in leading their organizations. Several of the surveyed areas remained the same from their 2010 survey and that data was re-shared to note changes and signal possible trends. It also examined some new topics including organizational dynamics, leadership issues, and undergraduate services. Also very interesting was data from an analogous US Faculty Survey 2012 on some of the topics to see how faculty and library directors look at the same topics from their respective points of view.

Anyone interested in library dynamics will find it fascinating.

A key finding is library directors showed a very strong commitment to the role that their libraries play in research skills and information literacy education for undergraduate students. This is not at all surprising. Information and technology literacy has never been more important. As the environment changed from one of information scarcity to information (over-) abundance, the importance of information literacy as a lifelong skill set has increased.

What might be surprising is that undergraduate faculty across the hundreds of surveyed colleges, in general, are much less likely to think of this as an important role for the library. The data also suggests differences in expectations on responsibility to teaching information literacy. I think the form of the questions provoked some of this gap between faculty and library leaders on this important topic. That said, I have observed over and over as I attend library leaders meetings and conferences, librarians from other colleges lamenting that getting access to students to help with development of these critical information literacy skills is very difficult and fruitful collaboration with faculty is hap hazard at best. It is so different at Luther College and it is an advantage for our students and their experience.

It begins with Paideia. This program intentionally builds in two engagements with librarians, one in the fall and another in the spring to help all our first-year students establish foundational information literacy skills. Perhaps as important, these sessions provide an opportunity for students to make a connection with Preus and begin a personal relationship with a librarian. I am so excited about the appointment by Dean Kraus of Rebecca Sullivan to be the Paideia Director for the next three years. She says she intends to “hold the course” and I hope she continues to give voice to the importance of the collaboration between Paideia faculty and librarians and students and librarians on information literacy within Paideia and beyond.

Paideia is only the beginning. Each department and program has a librarian assigned as a liaison. This is intentional to provide a personal connection for department/program faculty as they collaborate on ideas to further the students’ information literacy and work together on collection development. It is enthusing to hear the stories from librarians as they share special collaborations they are doing with faculty at our staff meetings. This sharing positions the librarians as aggregators/consultants of many ideas. There is much opportunity for collaboration and innovation as the rate and pace of information and technology change increases.

A third pillar for collaboration is the institution of Research Help. We continue to invest in staffing librarians at the desk available to welcome students and faculty into conversation about research. One on one, students can develop their skills in context, naturally motivated with a problem in their hand to solve. Encouraging our students to collaborate with librarians is a great way to help them improve their information the technology literacy skills.

As a final example of this differentiating collaboration faculty are encouraged to consider participating in the Summer 2014 Faculty Workshop (June 10, 12, & 13), Enhancing Student Learning Through Information Literacy and Technology, co-sponsored by the Dean’s Office and LIS and facilitated by Andi Beckendorf and Diane Gossman.  This workshop provides an extraordinary opportunity to see the breadth and depth of the collaborative support that LIS can offer to faculty and to collaborate directly on a project of interest to each participate. Here’s an except from the workshop’s page:

With a focus on student-centered learning, information literacy provides a way to consider and enhance integration of critical thinking and technology proficiency into our courses. The three workshop tracks offer faculty an opportunity to select a level of depth while breadth is gained through an overview of information literacy and its relationship to critical thinking, research, and departmental curricula.

The more librarians and faculty collaborate the better it is for our students. The more librarians and students collaborate the better it is for our students. The better it is for our students the more the Luther College experience is differentiated. Librarians have extraordinary and unique skills and complement the rich disciplinary skills of our faculty. We are at our best when we leverage both to the benefit of our students.

Suggested Reading/Viewing/Listening:

Ithaka S+R US Library Survey 2013

US Faculty Survey 2012

Sullivan named Paideia director

Note: Ithaka S+R is a research and consulting service that helps academic, cultural, and publishing communities in making the transition to the digital environment. For context, Ithaka S+R is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit organization that is the force behind the popular JSTOR.


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LIS Blog Highlights from the Week

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Notes from LIS Council

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This Week in LIS is published most Fridays by Paul Mattson, Executive Director of LIS at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

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