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Faculty Engagement

This heading is not a love letter or about marrying an instructor. It is about the importance for libraries to be partners with faculty/instructors through faculty engagement with the library in ensuring student learning outcomes are articulated, met and assessed.  But, maybe it is about relationships.

A partnership with faculty where the faculty’s knowledge about library services and resources and the library’s role in student learning and student development of information literacy skills will either stifle the library or allow it to flourish. It goes both ways. If a course assignment sends the student to the library, there has to be a library for them to go to. A library can have the best resources and services and be under-used because the syllabi or the faculty do nothing to drive the student to the library. Or maybe the student’s learning outcomes are so low all they need to do, according to the faculty, is use the internet or Google Scholar. Requiring use of the library resources and research design and search strategies and all the different skill sets, can be seen as an opportunity for the student to learn, use or and further develop information literacy skills.

All six Regional accreditation bodies (see my list on my website) have standards or principles espousing the need for a learning outcome called information literacy. Some are very specific about the role of the faculty as it relates to information literacy. They always indicate the important role of the faculty, and libraries need to link to their accreditor’s standard or principle when writing their narrative or self-study. Librarians must demonstrate with evidence how the library engages the faculty in the quality of their delivery of resources and services to support the program.

For example, in the accreditation guidelines, the faculty’s role in assessing learning outcomes is imperative because they can observe the quality of a student’ research design or webliography. They are uniquely staged to see the end product.  And that skill set is usually taught in the online library using workshops, Orientation, videos, webinars, research guides and one on one interaction with the student at the point of need. The library can distribute a survey on the quality of that instruction tool or method and collect and analyze the input. They can award a credit for attendance or doing the assignment.

If the faculty is engaged, the library narrative would describe the purpose of the instruction and the results. Start with describing what types of information the course or program or faculty require and then develop the library instruction around that specific skill set needed.  Show how the faculty assessed the quality of the student’s research or grade in their course assignment. They may have a before and after library training assessment of the student’s work. They can see if there is a list of citations, author’s correctly quoted or cited and that scholarly or peer-reviewed resources are used. Then describe how the faculty shared the results with the library, and what the library did with that assessment. And that is the best way to describe faculty engagement evidentially.

Melody Hainsworth, MLIS, Ph. D.

The Virtual Libarian Service