Thursday, June 24, 2010

Faculty/Librarian Liaison Relationships (your librarian is your friend, or the double-L value-add)

James Bradley Clarke, Miami University of Ohio – A Case of Vague Identities
At this point, I feel like I should be writing a mystery story. Clarke supports 1000 engineering students. The MU library provides 100% of first year engineering students with information literacy training. Academic librarians can have a vague identity on campus. He feels students and faculty may be confused by our roles on campus so he’s working to clarify the role and elucidate the vague identities. Some time way back in 1971, ACRL stated that academic librarians and professors are equal, should be paid the same, treated the same. So Clarke feels the role of liaison librarian is to have an aggressive outreach approach. Offering course guides, attending events, providing workshops, offering many communication venues for users. To get past the routine things librarians do Clarke writes articles about ABET and how the librarians can support the accreditation process. He also attends senior capstone events and informally comments about the projects and how they can be improved, which faculty welcome. The liaison relationship extends beyond the library. His outreach extends to attending campus ballgames and bringing his colleagues along.

Megan Sapp Nelson, Purdue University -  Question to Find Gaps and Concerns
Three librarians support thousands of engineering students. One of her goals is to extend the boundaries of the physical library with “outreach reference” locations along with other initiatives to get librarians more embedded on campus. She started with traditional meetings with faculty but quickly moved beyond to embed herself into Purdue’s teaching environment through involvement with engineering projects and community service. As a teaching faculty, she grades students work. Involvement in this way has helped develop rapport with other faculty and students. Nelson helped develop new curriculum for this program including early conceptual design for EPICs. Right now one of her value-added services is creation of a structured process for students when they come to her “with the best idea ever for an engineering project that no one in the world has ever thought of before.” Sound familiar? The research process she’s developing will guide students through literature searches for their design ideas. Nelson feels successful faculty relationships can be developed by asking them what problems they face. This approach can bring forward opportunities for librarians or integration of information skills into the curriculum. This led to teaching ethics to students and for another detailed example, see her ASEE 2010 paper on tying creativity with IL.

Karen Vagts, Tufts University - Infiltration with a marketing mindset
Vagts supports around a thousand School of Engineering students and faculty. Tufts program has many interdisciplinary aspects, with some faculty straddling management and engineering. Affiliated with Tisch Library and she also supports math and business. Tufts librarians are not tenure track. Faculty are not always aware of what librarians do. With a business background, she views her outreach efforts as a marketing issue and decided to penetrate the market by segmentation of her audience.  Due to interdisciplinary nature of the programs she target sub-groups based on interest areas (water, etc.) vs. by department. She has some success asking faculty to visit class for 10 minute to market the library and the assistance she can provide. There is no required information literacy instruction for engineering students at Tufts at this time. Focused areas for IL instruction are first year and capstone courses where research intensive courses are offered. She targets campus efforts for improving educational research and tries to become involve with development of new programs. Centers and research institutes including career development are other areas she has outreached to. Her communications range from emails, newsletters, and pushing resources out to target groups but “serendipitous meetings with faculty lead to great things.” Develop of individual relationships are most important in addition to successfully navigating the range of attitudes of faculty members.

Najwa Hanel, USC Libraries - Get out there and meet & greet
Hanel supports such a large number of students, faculty and research centers/institutes can be challenging but rewarding. She suggests going to faculty “to offer something, not ask for something.” They target department heads, all new faculty, and collaborate with other librarians to support across disciplines. One incentive for new faculty is a $500 for collection development (not serials). Hanel described in detail her methods of encountering faculty outside of the library. Participation on curriculum committees and new faculty orientation are essential activities for liaison librarians. Partnerships with faculty to support student learning is our reason for being there.

What do we do when requests for instruction surpass our ability to support them?  At Purdue there’s a move towards embedded librarians where instruction is delivered over multiple course sessions esp. in business school. Cross training with other librarians to help support instruction across disciplines. Develop supplemental workshops. Use online tutorials. Tap into local library school students. Hire graduate students from the discipline to teach orientations and do RefWorks sessions. At Queens they are discussing writing memorandum of understanding with departments to formalize the liaison program. At WPI, we have begun shifting staff roles in order to support our 50% increase in instruction sessions over the past 5 years.
Outreach to parents & students: some librarians are involved with summer orientation activities and have come up with creative ways to outreach to parents and students.

At MIT the librarians create a “new faculty toolkit” that helps library liaisons approach new faculty, talke with Angie Locknar for further details.

How do we reach senior faculty? Some mention through assistant in dealing with data sets and management of information. Another idea is to work with development and/or grants offices. 
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