Transforming Undergraduate Education Open Forum

Transforming Undergraduate Education Open Forum, January 11, 2006
Sponsored by the Public Services Council

1. Need for communal spaces

What can we do within our library facilities? Do we have a role outside our buildings in creating communal spaces elsewhere?

The Libraries have a role in creating both physical and virtual communal learning spaces.

Ideas for physical spaces in our library facilities include the Kilmer Library plan for a collaborative learning space, refurnished lobbies, group study rooms, a new science library, cyber cafés, improving HVAC conditions, staff lounges open to public and with coffee, collection spaces distinguished from people spaces, and more welcoming stacks with public workstations.

The Libraries could collaborate with other departments and offices by collocating other services and departments within the Libraries, e.g., Learning Resource Centers, multimedia labs for faculty, Center for Advancement of Teaching; hosting one or more virtual cafes and information centers at other locations; creating outposts and other physical spaces outside libraries that can be unstaffed; and collaborating with student centers on such projects as making a cafe from an enclosed pathway between the student center and the Kilmer Library.

Our new students are technology natives who need virtual spaces, and the Libraries must be in those spaces.

2. Changes in Curriculum

What should our role be in designing and implementing a new curriculum? What would be the roles of instruction and subject specialist librarians if the proposed curriculum were adopted, i.e., if information competence were truly integrated into the curriculum?

Librarians need to work collaboratively with teaching faculty for undergraduate and graduate courses and scale up our efforts by using technology, particularly by capitalizing on the capabilities of course management systems.

Information literacy is important to undergraduate courses in the first two years as well as in upper level courses as well as at the graduate level. 1st year students v. declared majors- different student commitment, get more focus and energy into subject classes, maturity and motivation different

We need to redesign the way we teach with faculty. Teaching traditionally means meeting faculty and students only briefly, and librarians are physically removed from teaching faculty. A major role for the Libraries is to talk with the teaching faculty about where librarians best fit. Individual librarians will need to read syllabi, meet with individuals, know how they teach, create responsive tutorials and contextual portals, and incorporate emerging subject information competency skills. We need to identify areas where subject specialists can work as consultants with faculty members to arm them to teach information literacy.

Course management systems can enable much of this effort easily in a managed and measurable way, including integration of such library services as course reserves, but we would need to be "allowed in." This effort means a larger teaching role, more team teaching, and more accountability. We could measure ourselves if we create content to integrate with courses.

The process is long term and requires additional attention.

3. Learning Communities

What can we contribute to the conversations and efforts that will be needed as the learning communities develop? How will we work with students, faculty, and academic administrators affiliated with the learning communities? How should we structure ourselves to work with the learning communities?

Librarians need to network with the community. We need to develop a common voice from the Libraries and participate in unified outreach to university.

We need to be members of the implementation committees and review our liaison structure. Liaison teams with both pedagogy/instructional expertise and subject specialist expertise are a possibility.

We need to learn the specialized subject needs of the learning communities so we can provide focused support, but our role may be to apply multidisciplinarity to their information needs so that there is a counterbalance to their potential homogeneity.

4. Role of Library Faculty and Staff

How can undergraduates be exposed to library faculty research? Should the Libraries create a reward structure to recognize library faculty and staff who give exceptional service to undergraduates?

All library faculty need to get involved with undergraduates. Any reward structure should follow the university's lead.

Some librarians already have significant contact hours with students; for others, such a change would require a reevaluation of their place in the university. Practical recommendations included working in learning laboratories, getting more involved at SCILS, involving class project groups in library planning or service development projects, teaching classes with research materials (as is done in Special Collections), working with undergraduate research experience programs, including learning communities in position descriptions.

Students feel disenfranchised, so we need to make sure that the quality and nature of our contact is positive, that students feel part of something, and that connection takes place.

The university is considering a second pool of funding for faculty merit awards for involvement in undergraduate curriculum, advising, and learning communities. The Senate voted to increase the faculty by 10%.

The Libraries are well positioned to contribute since a core value of librarianship is service to the public.

Last updated: July 6, 2006
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