Classes for the fall semester begin in just over a week! When did the summer pass me by???? Meeting with Ellen Kintz (ANTH) yesterday has helped me to start thinking towards library instruction sessions. I’ll also meet with RM (taking over as ANTH Dept. chair) on Monday to discuss the continuation of the ANTH-Library collaboration. To prepare myself for the meeting, Ellen and I talked about what we feel are the benefits of the work that has been accomplished between us over the past 5 (!!!) years.

  • Pre-tests show that students are grossly unaware and unprepared to evaluate and use scholarly resources
  • With embedded library instruction, students dramatically increase their scholarly skills – research and information literacy must be directly related to course requirements and projects, introduced very early in the targeted semester, and practiced throughout the semester in short modules (used as a vehicle for course content and student research)
  • Practice makes perfect and students need to be graded on their library literacy and scholarly work
  • Instruction from one course crosses over into other courses and dramatically improves students’ scholarly work (transferable skills)
  • The strongest and most enthusiastic ANTH students ended up with jobs in the library (student reference assistants and CTAs), further improving their skills, as well as their friends’ through mentoring and informal training
  • Students become more skilled and quicker at their research, improving critical thinking skills – students have reported completing their research projects at an advanced level and faster
  • Students become empowered as critical thinkers about information on the web, as well as in articles and books – they become more aware of the scholars in their field and begin to identify themselves as active scholars rather than passive students
  • Faculty-librarian collaboration and brainstorming improves the process and the product
  • Collaboration between faculty, librarian, and students creates a dynamic learning community with contributions from all ( i.e. FAMSI identified by a student; the Khipu Database Project, Tuskegee Syphilis Project via NPR and PBS and HIV/AIDS in Brazil video identified by faculty and/or librarian)

I’ll need to gather up some data to bring with me to our Monday meeting. Not that RM needs any convincing of the positive results a collaboration can bring (otherwise she wouldn’t be meeting with me), but Ellen has been such a force in pushing this working relationship along, gaining steam with every new year, so the new relationship with Ellen out of the equation will need to grow on its own.

My colleague, Bonnie, just gave me a bit of good professional news (as opposed to her good personal news!).  A biology professor has apparently picked up on the good work that has been happening between teaching faculty and librarians at SUNY Geneseo and she would like to work toward a similar approach for one of her classes.  Furthermore, a chemistry professor who has been present many times when the librarians share information on the faculty-librarian collaborations is asking Bonnie for more library instruction sessions this semester.  I’ve been recently wondering if I should continue to push for the Faculty Learning Community focused on F-L collaborations, but it does seem like the more conversation, sharing and modeling that happens, the more professors are listening and suggesting partnerships.  This is fantastic news!

So, my next step in the short run . . . I have printed out a number of recent articles about faculty-librarian collaborations and I would like to report in on the data, with possible thoughts of my own.  This is a goal I have had since starting this blog, but finding the time has been a challenge.  Just trying to write something every once in a while has been a challenge.  And there’s so much to say!  I will continue to invite guest writers to share their collaborations as well.

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Just thinking about the two reference student assistants that have been hired as counselors for this year’s summer camp. I bet they never imagined that by sitting in an ANTH class, infused with scholarly research instruction, they would take on a part-time job they love (that’s what they tell us!) and then be hired for two-weeks as summer camp counselors that will not only be loads of fun, but financially lucrative as well. Excellent salary plus room and board! Not to mention, possibly the best job they will ever have. At least, that’s the way I feel about the summer camp. Last year’s experience was the most fun I’ve ever had at work . . . and I really enjoy my everyday job. 🙂 There could have been a third student of embedded library instruction turned ref student assistant turned summer camp counselor but Sarah never got her application in!!! Sarah???!!!!! The Reference Librarians have been lucky to work with such motivated, bright and research-curious student assistants. We have cultivated these students from an INTD 101 First-Year Experience course (Shoot! The webpage is no longer live), from HIST and ANTH courses heavily infused with information literacy instruction, and sometimes, just from working side-by-side a librarian. Nicole is a perfect case of this last instance, as she has worked closely with Liz Argentieri, and will take over as classroom scheduling assistant in the fall. I hope to nominate Ali as a possible candidate for either a ref student assistant position or as a CTA (Classroom Technology Assistant). And then there are at least two students (who I already know are interested) from ANTH who I would love to work with us at the Ref Desk. I must remember to put all these names forth, but unsure what will happen with our recommendations if/when we get a new Head of Instruction and Reference.

I frequently think about past student assistants at the Reference Desk – Nicole, Karen, Josh, Katie, Lauren, Christina, Claire, Tomoko, Brian (my apologies for anyone I’ve left out) – and remember how much fun and learning they brought to both the reference librarians and the students they helped while working at the Ref Desk. They have taught us as much as I imagine we have taught them.