August 15, 2007
The new year is upon us here at Illinois and librarians will be active across campus over the next few weeks providing orientation programs for students, staff, and faculty across campus. For those looking to learn, please visit our Library Orientation and Outreach schedule for Fall 2007.
Looking at the schedule is not only a testament to the work of our librarians, but also a good way of seeing how many academic, administrative, and student services programs across campus make the Library part of their welcome to new members of the UIUC community. In addition to many programs aimed at academic departments and units such as the Graduate College, this year's list of partner programs includes University Housing, the Center for Teaching Excellence, the Office of Academic Human Resources, and Campus Recreation.
If you're new to Illinois, let us be the first to say, "Welcome to campus, and here's your Library!"
July 19, 2007
K-16 Educational Programs
The UIUC Library is unusual among research university libraries in that our system includes a high school library - a distinctive feature that allows us to reach out to local students (and parents), and to take a broad view of information and technology literacy as a critical component of lifelong learning.
For over a decade, students at University Laboratory High School have been required to take a two-semester Computer Literacy course sequence - a sequence that includes the study of safe, responsible, and ethical use of information and communication technologies. Classroom faculty, librarians, and school counselors come together in this program to present role-playing scenarios, facilitate online discussions, and helping students to engage in discussion and debate on the ethics of information use.
This program dovetails nicely with the NetSafe program recently developed by the Illinois Library Association. The NetSafe bookmarks provide an opportunity to extend the Uni High information skills curriculum, both by reinforcing lessons given to students on "Safe Blogging" and "Cyberbullying," and by providing another avenue for discussing information skills instruction with parents (who already take part in the course Web site evaluation project). They also provide an opportunity for us to work with our colleagues in local public and school libraries also taking part in NetSafe.
Safe blogging, or the related issue of appropriate use of social networking sites, is an information and technology literacy issue that bridges the gap between high school and college, and the University Library is fortunate to have a unique resource for studying that transition (and helping to prepare future college students for the rigors of academic life) in the Uni High Library and its librarian, Frances Jacobson Harris.
June 14, 2007
Supporting Students from the Start
In this week's Chronicle of Higher Education, George Kuh (Indiana University) provides some guidelines on how to help students achieve academic success based on the data collected through the National Survey of Student Engagement. His first suggestion: "teach first-year students as early as possible how to use college resources effectively." Kuh does not highlight the role that libraries have in meeting this mandate, but, at Illinois (as elsewhere), we are definitely contributing to this critical learning goal.
At UIUC, librarians housed both in departmental libraries and the Undergraduate Library provide direct instruction both to first-year students and to graduate assistants who are active as instructors of first-year courses. Faculty aligned with the Office of Information Literacy and Instruction collaborate with colleagues in Academic Advising, and there are plans to enhance the instructional collaboration between the Undergraduate Library and the Residence Hall Libraries. Finally (because I could go on at length about the ways the Library contributes to the goal of first-year student education and support), we should note the enhanced commitment that the Library has made to helping its diverse student body succeed through the work of our Outreach Librarian for Multicultural Services. Also housed in Undergrad, Emily Love has built relationships with key student support programs across campus, including the Office of Minority Student Affairs.
The University Library has a long tradition of "teaching first-year students as early as possible" about one of the most critical campus resources designed to support their academic success, and a strong commitment to teaching students throughout their time here the information skills they will need for the rest of their lives. As we prepare in the coming year to build on that tradition through collaboration with New Student Orientation and the Division of General Studies, we can look at the results of Kuh's research as one sign that we are dedicating our resources to a critical campus goal.
May 9, 2007
Scholarly Communications - It's Everyone's Job
There was a time, way back in say, 2003, when "scholarly communications" was a term associated with the work library administrators did at the campus level and, sometimes, that became attached to the work of a single librarian, often called a Scholarly Communications Librarian or a Scholarly Communications Officer. Those days are gone.
Earlier this year, the Association of Research Libraries launched its Copyright Education Initiative with the release of the Know Your Copyrights brochure. The brochure was recently distributed to all faculty on the UIUC campus, and we are poised to join our colleagues across the country who have added a scholarly communications dimension to the profile of professional services provided by liaison librarians across the curriculum.
Along with reference services, collections services, and instructional services, the liaison librarian or subject specialist of the 21st century should be prepared to provide scholarly communications services and to serve as a liaison between classroom faculty and research faculty and the scholarly communications infrastructure and initiatives support by the academic library.
This is a tall order - one on par with the expectation found in academic libraries across the country beginning 30 years ago that all liaison librarians would be responsible for teaching. At Kansas, we developed a handbook aimed at facilitating that discussion. Now, thanks again to ARL, we have some new tools for scholarly communications outreach and instruction.
With the establishment of our scholarly communications program, the launch of our institutional repository, and the network of contacts that we have across the campus and in key units like the Graduate College, these tools will help us to articulate a scholarly communications instruction and outreach program that will allow us to contribute to ongoing discussions of copyright, open access, digital publishing, and more.
UIUC has made a substantial commitment to moving forward in this area through its sponsorship of a team of librarians who will be attending the Scholarly Communications Institute this summer. I look forward to working with them and with the rest of our scholarly communications team to see how we add scholarly communications services to the already rich menu of services that we provide to our faculty and students.
April 18, 2007
Health Information Literacy
An alert by way of the DIG_REF discussion list to the attention being given to a study by a faculty-librarian team at Central Michigan of the way in which people search for health information online. As they report, based on their study of user behavior:
These people will be at greater risk of making bad health decisions based on non-credible information if they conduct a basic Google search than if they search a scholarly library database . . . . We’re talking about potentially harmful information on such subjects as cancer rates, smoking cessation methods and fever management in children. People need advanced skills and knowledge to find high-quality health information on the Internet.
The importance of information literacy instruction for those conducting searches for health information was a key piece of the State Library of Washington's Information Literacy Initiative a few years ago, and it remains an essential service that academic libraries can provide to members of campus and community. At UIUC, we are hard at work designing a new approach to providing access to health information and support for health researchers, health professionals and users of consumer health services as part of our strategic plan.
This study suggests that we are none too soon!
April 17, 2007
Making Sure We're Part of the Equation
A review of the recent joint conference of the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) includes some interesting news about how our student affairs colleagues are working at the national level to make certain that they remain "part of the equation" when campus leaders are calculating how best to support student success.
Like librarians, student affairs professionals have looked carefully over the past 20 years at their educational role (something that I noted briefly in an earlier post), and NASPA has joined with an education consulting firm to create a national clearinghouse for information on research and best practices aimed at promoting student success. As one of the participating consultants told the Chronicle of Higher Education: "When we talk about accountability, we can't just limit ourselves to what happens in classrooms."
The lesson for libraries is that we, too, must be proactive if we are to remain relevant to campus discussions about promoting student success and responding to national calls for increased educational accountability. We are one of the few academic units designed to seamlessly bridge the curricular and the co-curricular experience. When we talk about the learning that can be facilitated in a library, or by librarians, we are talking about what happens in classrooms, in libraries, in computer labs, in residence halls, and anywhere else that the ability to access, manage, evaluate, synthesize, and present information is important (which is pretty much everywhere).
Members of our profession have done substantial work over the past decade on the educational impact of the teaching and learning that goes on in libraries (or as part of campus-wide commitments to information literacy). How do we make certain that we also remain "part of the equation" when relevant discussions come up on our campuses? What can each one of us do in our work with campus faculty and administrators? What can the leadership of our national organizations learn from the leadership of those of our colleagues in student affairs about helping to make the case?