So, this collaborative effort isn’t so much librarian to teaching faculty, but since we librarians in the SUNY system are considered faculty, I’m going to count this as librarian-faculty collaboration.

Yesterday, I returned from SUNY Potsdam where friends and colleagues within SUNY gather annually for drinks, dancing lessons, drumming circles, kayaking, lots of food, and . . . oh yeah . . . professional development. Despite resistance to attending the conference this year, I am so happy I did. I have forgotten how much I enjoy the SUNYLA conference, but even more, how much I enjoy my friends within SUNY. It’s interesting to me how close colleagues can get when we’re all pretty much doing the same thing (librarianship), but our relationships become so much closer than that. Hello’s and goodbye’s are met with hugs rather than handshakes or waves and conversation over good meals are focused on what’s happening in our personal lives more than what we’re doing professionally. That talk can happen during the presentations. Despite attending the conference without my closest compadres, I had an amazing time and was given the opportunity to get better acquainted with co-workers within my own library and new librarians joining SUNY all over the state. Nothing brings people together like a heated game of foosball. πŸ™‚

The best experience, however, came before the conference. Against all odds, a group of four worked cross state on a 90-minute presentation to be given on Friday the 13th, not once meeting in person. The Membership Enthusiasm Outreach Workgroup (MEOW) did meet once in person last September, but I would say the bulk of the work completed by this group happened online between 4 dedicated librarians that I am fortunate to call friends (excluding myself as the 4th librarian, of course). How did we get the work accomplished? Via phone, e-mail, IM, and the miracle of 2.0. MEOW’s wiki, but more importantly Google Docs, helped us work “as if” we were in the same room. My favorite experience was probably when Nancy and I were simultaneously looking at a google doc, IMing each other as we examined our work, and making instant changes to the document. Nancy told me yesterday that she is now about 1.75 (not quite at the 2.0 level but close!) as a result of this collaborative work, and has even been using some of the tools for personal business.

The other helpful hint is that Gmail can send files of infinite size (or at least bigger than my campus e-mail account can send). That tidbit of info could have helped ease the process of loading my ppts to the LOEX 2008 conference page.

Other google docs allowed the MEOW 4 to maintain a running conversation of thoughts, questions, and suggestions helpful to finalizing our conference presentation. We plan to share these documents with the greater MEOW group, along with suggestions from our audience made during the brainstorming activity of yesterday’s session, before a second in-person meeting. In an effort to get as many of the MEOW members as possible “attending” this meeting, we’ll incorporate a conference call and IM so that those who cannot physically travel can still participate. If we could get Internet2 up and running (demonstrated fantastically during the keynote session of the SUNYLA conference . . . and Geneseo has access to Internet2!), that would be even better, but I’m not so sure we can move that quickly.

The other web 2.0 tool that I’m hooked on is Twitter, thanks to my run-in with Rudibrarian at Computers in Libraries. Being able to take conference notes and write them up later has been a great exercise in reflecting on what I learned at various conference sessions. I love being able to listen to a presentation, takes notes, discuss with Rudibrarian (if she happens to be attending the same session), ask questions of clarification, and even hear Rudy ask those questions aloud. Full circle. πŸ™‚

My final thought on 2.0 for the day is that blogs, wikis, Google docs, etc. have been so instrumental in my work on the RYSAG summer camp. I have been so pleased to serve as the faculty member to lead the planning group in technological collaboration. We are all learning and growing together.

  • I have imported an RSS feed from Scopus into this blog which will update me on all new publications pertaining to Librarian-Faculty Collaboration. When I can find the time, hopefully this summer, I will go through the articles – most recent first and work my way backward – writing up key points on each. This will be a good system for me to keep up with literature in the field. At current time, and for quite some time, there hasn’t been a moment for this kind of professional activity!
  • I will document my comings and goings with professors/teachers in my ultimate goal of formulating successful relationships and partnerships, inside and outside of the classroom. The dream is to have certain academic departments working closely with the instruction librarians with a progressive, developmental approach. As students move through their major, we should have a plan in place for when library instruction takes place (in what year and in which courses) and what will be covered in each of those sessions – starting small and simple and ending with a pretty sophisticated and comprehensive approach to research and critical thinking.
  • I would like to make this blog a practical place for colleagues (librarians and faculty) to gain new ideas for activities and partnerships. Of course, I cannot offer all of this information on my own, so feedback and brainstorming among those looking at my blog is greatly appreciated. At SUNY Geneseo, there have been a number of successful collaborative models happening, so there is by no means, one right way to form a successful teaching partnership.
  • It would be great to get some discussion going about challenges and triumphs, from the side of the librarian and the professor . . . and even students if they were to look at this blog.
  • It is possible that I vocalize my continuous “soul searching” as I consider the pros and cons of remaining in a traditional teaching role vs moving into a more managerial position. At current, I am still very much wedded to creating new lesson plans and working closely with students and faculty. Can you take the girl out of the classroom, but not the classroom out of the girl? Right now, I think not. πŸ™‚
  • Finally, as you may have already read, I have become heavily involved in a wonderful summer program with middle school students and the reasons for my inclusion in this new project stem from my previous work in the college classroom with a Sociology professor. This opportunity has me branching out and forging friendships and professional working relationships that I might not otherwise have had. Based on the CSI (now DIG) curriculum, I am developing new lesson plans and activities geared at the middle school level and this has allowed me to try similar approaches, although more advanced, in the college classroom. My use of different technologies in the classroom has certainly increased. I now find myself teaching other faculty how to implement these different tools into their teaching repertoire. Very cool!

I meant to write this yesterday but it was one busy day. Meeting after meeting after meeting. I truly value my bi-weekly meetings with my Anthropology partner, Ellen. We have been meeting every Tuesday and Thursday morning for a number of semesters now. We meet to discuss plans for her ANTH courses, to share news about special projects we’re working on, and to strategize how best to share the strengths of our partnership with other faculty members. The number one question we get from workshop participants (librarians, for the most part) is “how do we find faculty members who are as willing and enthusiastic to collaborate in the classroom?” The typical answer . . . “one professor at a time.” I don’t know that there is any easy answer to this question. I was fortunate that Ellen came to me (via my library director and instruction coordinator) since we had worked on a library session once in the past – a 75-minute session, jam-packed with every possible source that the ANTH students should be aware of. Needless to say, I only got through half the list, at best, and in very little detail. As wise and experienced in her career, Ellen could see that her students needed better research skills so that they would be capable of discovering more in the field of Anthropology. As I tell students, they can only learn so much within a 50 or 75-minute session from their professor(s). There is so much more information out there for them to learn, especially if the topics in class engage and excite them. But Ellen is a unique case (in many ways πŸ™‚ ), but I know she is not alone in her level of enthusiasm for students’ scholarly research skills. As librarians work with professors, inside or outside of the classroom, professional and friendly relationships begin to build, and through more informal conversations, we can get to the bottom of professors’ hesitation for a more systematic partnership where content and research skills come together – an E-ducational Merging, so to speak. Time is almost always the issue. Professors have so much content to cover within a 16-week semester (or however different colleges and schools structure their academic year), but Ellen and I argue that through a mastery of research skills, students can learn some of the content independently and through class collaboration – via discussion, group projects, wiki homework assignments, etc. Ellen and I have been able to achieve this learning of the content through 3-4 library sessions infused throughout the semester, followed up with homework assignments and scholarly research portions to exams. Our model includes the librarian as co-teacher, meaning that I am also responsible for part of the course grading, that which pertains to research findings and citations.

Wow, this post is already getting really long, despite my intention of keeping this short and sweet and focusing on the unexpected benefits of my partnership with Ellen. I guess I must have a lot to say. πŸ™‚ In any case, our Tues/Thurs meetings have developed into sharing each other’s work (Ellen travels a lot, for presentations, professional development, and fieldwork, much of which includes service leaning for her students) and sharing in each other’s lives. So what started out as purely a professional collaboration has turned into so much more. We learn from each other, we inspire each other, and in the end, we have both become better teachers for it.