Library & Information Studies Department Scholarship Statement

Academic librarians regard their field of library and information studies as both a profession and a discipline, reinforced with traditional and emerging forms of scholarship. The professional facet sees librarians focused on the organization, evaluation, and provision of access to information for the purpose of fostering scholarship across the college curriculum. As a discipline, library and information studies is founded in its own theory and practice with an established program of academic preparation and a body of research literature. Faculty librarians at Luther College view scholarly work as the foundation of their daily work, where scholarship serves as the inspiration for informed practice and creative teaching. The professional obligations the librarians hold are grounded in teaching, and this dynamic relationship fosters many forms of scholarship, not only in library and information studies, but in interdisciplinary work as well.

Forms of scholarship

The work of Ernest Boyer in Scholarship Reconsidered (1990) played an important role in shaping the statement “Academic Librarianship and the Redefining Scholarship Project” from the Association of College and Research Libraries (1998). The forms of scholarship listed below are representative of work done by LIST (Librarian and Information Studies) faculty at Luther College and demonstrate the possibilities for interaction between different types of scholarly work. Additional scholarly work in these four categories will be determined by the areas of interest and specialization of individual faculty.

Scholarship of Inquiry: Original research connects theory with practice to improve services.

  • Analyzing service point and usage statistics.
  • Conducting usability studies to improve online resources and services.
  • Evaluating materials that will support the evolving curriculum and promote independent inquiry.
  • Designing effective means of information retrieval.
  • Establishing methods to assess the effectiveness of teaching and services.

Scholarship of Integration: Interdisciplinary investigation that “informs and transforms…work” (ACRL, 1998).

  • Disciplinary expertise necessary to discern research questions and facilitate discovery of information.
  • Investigation of learning theory and learning styles.
  • Assessment of learning outcomes and effectiveness of teaching research skills.
  • Integration of computer science and technology as part of resources and services.
  • Anthropological studies of library and technology use and the user experience.
  • Communication theory for effective organizational operations.
  • User-centered design of services and facilities.
  • Administration, management, and leadership techniques.
  • Marketing of services and resources.
  • Preservation of rare and historically important materials.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Continuous examination of pedagogies employed to meet learning goals. Each faculty member in the department participates in the following teaching activities: reference, course-related or course-integrated instruction, and in-depth research consultations. Additional teaching activities may include: planning and supervising LIST internships, teaching credit-bearing courses, leading training sessions, and directing faculty development workshops. The level of participation in each of these activities is guided by areas of specialization among faculty, the need for information literacy to be integrated into a course or curriculum (such as Paideia I or the music major), which type of instruction is most appropriate for the information need, and the nature of the faculty appointment.

Scholarship of Engagement: Scholarship put into collaborative practice and shared with community. As stated in the ACRL document, this form of scholarship employs “the theory and knowledge gained through inquiry, integration, and pedagogical experimentation to meeting the research and learning needs of the academic community.” Use of the word “engagement” reminds us that Boyer’s categories of scholarship are meant to interact dynamically, as engagement “emphasizes…genuine collaboration: that the learning and teaching be multi-directional and the expertise shared” (O’Meara, 28).

  • Creation or production of technology products that support the LIST mission; use and testing of products; dissemination and availability of the products with a community of users; and implementation of the products as an effective tool for users.
  • Use of survey data and research inquiry to reshape instructional formats and methodologies for course-specific student research; communication with course instructor(s); evaluation of effectiveness of instruction; and further revision of instructional methods and techniques.

Peer Review

Peer review in the discipline of library and information studies can be demonstrated in several ways. Internally, within the department, there are frequent opportunities for informal peer review through daily collaborative work. Formally, the tenured members of the department observe the classroom teaching of colleagues, and there are regular reports from individuals about scholarly work at department meetings. When teaching course-related or course-integrated instruction sessions, we are peer-reviewed by colleagues in other academic departments. Though these are important forms of evaluation for ongoing development of professional and scholarly endeavors, it should not be considered a substitute for the type of peer review necessary in the tenure and promotion process.

Externally, scholarship may be formally reviewed by conference presentation review committees and journal editors or editorial boards. The professional organizations we would typically submit presentation proposals to have a system of peer review in place at the state, regional, national and international levels. In fact, several current members of the department have served as peer reviewers for conference presentation proposals through service to professional organizations. Many, though not all, of the journals in the discipline or related interdisciplinary fields have a peer review system in place for article submissions. With emerging technologies and new forms of scholarly publication, there may be alternative forms of peer review possible in the discipline, depending on the candidate’s scholarly focus. As described below, in Expectations, it will be incumbent on the candidate to demonstrate the significance to the profession of alternative means of publication and peer review.

Fruits of scholarship in teaching

A “teaching library” is based on the understanding that the library plays a much more active role in furthering the educational mission and goals of the institution than has traditionally been recognized. The concept of the teaching library grew out of a renewed emphasis on library instruction efforts that have taken place since 1970. Liberal arts colleges have played an important role in the development of strong library instruction programs, and the continued emphasis on the unity of scholarship, teaching and service at Luther College supports the values represented by the teaching library model.

As outlined above, there are several direct ways for faculty in the department to realize the fruits of scholarly work through effective teaching: reference transactions and conferences; course-related and course-integrated instruction focused on introductory, intermediate, advanced and/or discipline-specific skills; in-depth research consultations with students and faculty; LIST internships; credit-bearing courses, training sessions, and leading faculty development workshops. With a recently renewed effort to offer courses in library and information studies (First-Year Seminars, Directed Readings and Internships), department faculty have a new means of demonstrating the fruits of scholarship with a depth that goes beyond what we have been able to offer through other modes of teaching.


Since the scholarship of faculty in the department may take different or multiple forms, the criteria for evaluating the relative success of the process of scholarship as laid out in Scholarship Assessed (Glassick, et al., 1997) offers a way to gauge scholarly development in conjunction with the products. The criteria for assessing a candidate’s development of scholarly process are: clear goals, adequate preparation, appropriate methods, significant results, effective presentation, and reflective critique. Each criterion should be in evidence in the work of faculty, demonstrating the individual’s scholarly growth and development. Though process will serve as the foundation for scholarly work, it is the synthesis of process and product that demonstrates a candidate’s fulfillment of the expectations.

In order to successfully combine scholarly process and product, candidates must show evidence of peer review by dissemination of the scholarship through appropriate peer-reviewed publication or presentation. When alternative forms of peer review may be possible, in new and emerging forms of scholarship, for example, the candidate should demonstrate the significance of the work and the importance the alternative peer review has to the profession. Though members of the department may have evidence of scholarly work in other disciplines in which they have expertise, such scholarly work should not be offered as a substitute for work in library and information studies. There are appropriate forms of interdisciplinary scholarly work that combine areas of specialization with a significant focus in library and information studies.

Fulfillment of the expectations outlined below should be seen as a natural outgrowth of inquisitive, engaged, passionate faculty who are committed to teaching and learning in deep and meaningful ways. From one stage to the next, candidates should expect to demonstrate that there has been a progression of scholarly work, and a widening scope of influence in dissemination of scholarly products. By fostering a culture in which this type of work is inherent in scholarship at all stages of one’s faculty development, candidates will have a strong framework to build upon when moving through the stages of review, tenure and promotion. In defining expectations for the review process, we do seek to provide guidance toward the type of work that may be demonstrated by a candidate, but it is not the purpose of the expectations to serve as a checklist of minimum requirements.

For Third-year Review, candidates should show evidence of having established a foundation for scholarly activity. In preparation for Third-Year Review, engaged members of the department should demonstrate scholarly activity by submitting papers and presentation proposals that reflect an understanding of the synthesis of scholarly process and product. Differences in the category of scholarly work done by each candidate will vary, but it is expected that at the time of Third-year Review the candidate will have developed a significant enough focus in one area of scholarship in order to have created and submitted a work of original research for a peer-reviewed publication or presentation in the discipline or related field.

For Tenure Review and promotion to Associate Professor, candidates should show evidence of active and intentional development of scholarship. At this stage of one’s career, there should be evidence of a pattern of scholarly work and indication that the candidate has targeted a widening scope of venues for dissemination of scholarship, though the level of involvement in each of the four categories of scholarship will differ for each individual. Candidates are expected to have a record of successful peer-reviewed publication as well as peer-reviewed conference presentation.

For promotion to Full Professor, candidates should show evidence of having realized the plan for scholarly work in the discipline. Individuals may remain engaged in the same scholarly focus in which they have demonstrated consistent development or may shift focus toward new scholarly interests. The result of either ongoing or new scholarship should demonstrate continued evidence of peer-reviewed publication as well as peer-reviewed conference presentation.

How the scholarship of the Library & Information Studies Department affirms the mission of the College

Academic libraries are often referred to as “the heart of the campus,” a place where knowledge and ideas live, intellectual freedom is cultivated and members of the community seek truth through inquiry. As a teaching library, all aspects of the work of our department are focused on furthering the principles of liberal learning and the Luther College Mission Statement. The most traditional and recognizable way we do this is through our collection – the organization, evaluation, and provision of access to information for the purpose of fostering scholarship across the college curriculum. Additionally, the Luther College Archives, as a vital collection within Preus Library, has a mission to collect the history of the college in all appropriate formats, including print, electronic, photographic, artifacts, and memorabilia. By creating physical and virtual spaces in which people interact with this knowledge and each other, we offer a diversity of ideas that can be used to learn, challenge, understand and transform. Stewardship of our spaces and collections is also an important aspect of our work, and we actively look for ways in which research can inform practice as we share these resources with the campus.

We take to heart our role as an academic library in a liberal arts college of the church. With a core collection of materials in the areas of religion and philosophy, including works in Christian theology, denominationalism, ethics, vocation and world religions, we offer members of the community a chance to encounter faith through coursework and independent learning. Other areas of the collection also demonstrate the care that has been taken to represent both our strong church heritage and religious diversity. Through its mission to collect the history of the college, the Luther College Archives holds mid-19 th century records from the Norwegian Synod, synod churches and churches associated with the college as founding congregations.

The department is uniquely equipped to help students recognize what it means to live in a time when technology offers new ways in which to encounter, confront, create and share ideas. We do this by advancing information literacy and the use of technology for scholarly purposes in all areas of the curriculum. Through leadership on such issues as censorship, academic and intellectual freedom, and fair use of intellectual property, we offer our own scholarship as a resource to the community, as we encounter and resolve these ethical questions. We seek to promote inquiry and critical thinking as we work in partnership with faculty from other departments to prepare students for lifelong learning and a world in which they are equipped to “serve with distinction for the common good” and “confront a changing society.”

(February 2010)