Getting Started on Collaboration with Classroom Faculty: A Step-by-Step Guide for Librarians

As part of their 2010-11 secondment to the Centre for Teaching Support and Innovation, Patricia Bellamy, Sarah Fedko, and Sheril Hook developed this great primer to help librarians begin the conversation on collaborating with instructors.  This document will appear as an appendix in the soon-to-be-released report from the same group Partnering for Academic Student Success (PASS), but the writers were happy to share it with you in this preview.


Embedded Librarians: Integrating Information Literacy at Point of Need

Summary of this ACRL webinar, October 25 2011, with Cass Kvenild and Kaijsa Calkins, University of Wyoming and co-authors of Embedded librarians : moving beyond one-shot instruction.  Chicago : Association of College and Research Libraries, 2011.

A worksheet template is here:

Definition: “…focusing on the needs of one or
more specific groups, building relationships with these groups, developing a deep understanding of their work, and providing information services that are highly customized and targeted to their greatest needs. In effect, it involves shifting the basis of library services from the traditional, transactional, question-and-answer model of reference services to one in which there is high trust, close collaboration, and
shared responsibility for outcomes.” (Shumaker & Talley, 2009, p. 9)

Did you know….? According to the presenters, the term “embedded librarianship” emerged out of language adopted during the Iraq war of the early 1990’s, when journalists began to be “embedded” alongside American troops.

Methods for Embedding:

  1. Face to face: classroom visits (usually multiple rather than 1-shot)
  2. Indepth project work with teams, common in business, health sciences
  3. Participation in online discussions in the learning management system (e.g. Blackboard)
  4. Synchronous online instruction (e.g. Elluminate, Captivate, etc.)
  5. Onsite office hours in departments, dorms, etc.

Key takeaways from this seminar:

  1. Collaboration is key. You need collaborators.  Find out what they need and you can best help them. Embedding requires a lot of planning. Partners include any of IT (esp the LMS admin); Student Services, instructors, department leaders, distance ed admins, teaching-learning offices
  2. Barriers: Instructors find it hard to make time in their courses; library learning may not be in instructors’ radar as important. Consider promoting shorter interventions in class; discussions online; integration of Libguides and other support material for just-in-time learning.
  3. Why bother to embed? Sustainability: reach more students more efficiently; use library resources more effectively and have them better integrated into learning; opportunities to innovate.
  4. Set priorities. Prepare for success by setting priorities for who you will work with — e.g. top priority goes to courses or programs with large research components, lengthy assignments, degree requirements that involve info lit.  Remind potential partners that you might not be able to do exactly what they hope, but this is what you CAN do.  Set boundaries early rather than have to back out of a commitment later on. Instructor expectations may grow as your success in embedded work grows — don’t hesitate to have a conversation with the instructor to set the boundaries.

Looking to embed?  Seek out instructors who already ask you for one-shots, they will buy in most easily.

Where to embed? Consider LMS; labs; classroom; writing centers; dorms; final year projects; anywhere they will take you! Consider pilot projects so you can learn lessons on a small scale.  Think of doing a pilot project => formal embedded program => curriculum embeddedness as a longer term goal.

Process model for an embedded program:

Goal setting => Collaboration, incl environmental scan => Plan and Design => Assessment => Revisions

Plan and Design Phase: Different types of designs include

  1. F2F: If a lot of F2F seems like too much work, try teaching less — dont try to cram so much into your class time.  Break down your interventions, do shorter bits instead, come in more often.  Students particularly like getting chunks of learning, as it allows them to work through info lit goals gradually.
  2. Online: big advantage is asynchronicity — convenient for students, and you can work on the content as time permits. If you’re not really familiar with instructional design, consider partnering with a colleague who knows more on this.
  3. Passive (ie content online ready when they need it, like the U of T’s Blackboard FIXIT feeds).  An automated unstaffed presence in courses — including FIXIT and Libguides – great way to accomplish embedded goals. Also consider short podcasts embedded in courses through youtube channnels etc.
  4. Curriculum integration: the “ultimate” goal for embedding – get in on curriculum revisions in departments.  Can be game-changing. If you are there during planning stages, you can suggest ways for students to use resources to achieve learning goals and degree objectives.  You can be seen as a stakeholder.

Assessment of embedded projects: need to build this into every phase of an embedded project.  There is increasing pressure to assess in order to report out the impact of your work.  Think about: a) What do you want to learn? b) Who needs to hear the results?  Think of assessment as a tool to help you write the story that you want to tell.

Compare and collect data such as:

  • research questions and keywords
  • search strategies students use
  • citation analysis
  • pre-post test results
  • attitude inventory
  • student reflections on learning — questions like “Where in the process did you struggle the most? How did you overcome these struggles?”

The last two (attitude inventory and reflections) don’t take much time or effort to collect, and you can capture how students feel about their abilities before and after learning.

“Value rubrics”: web site how-to here: consider questions like “What is the most valuable source that you used in this assignment?” or “Of the resources discussed in class, which did you like the best and why?”

Questions on scalability of embeddedness: What happens when success is greater than the resources? Use the experience to work with your course designer and instructor to re-set expectations and design new ways for students to remain engaged but be scalable.  Options can include moving from all F2F to partial F2F and passive; custom libguides for each course to discipline-specific libguides;

Benefits of embedding over 1-shot: Embedded enables you to measure learning over time, 1-shot doesn’t.  When a project is repeated over time, you can see if something is a fluke or a consistent outcome.


Call for Proposals ACRL Research Forum – due Dec 16 2011


What is the ACRL Research Forum?

The ACRL Research Coordinating Committee is pleased to sponsor a new forum to give those doing research in academic library contexts an opportunity to share their work with a national audience at the upcoming ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, CA, June 21-26, 2012. The ACRL Research Forum will feature three research presentations based on work in progress or completed, followed by discussion. 

Who is expected to submit their work and to make presentations?

Practitioners, new researchers, and experienced researchers are all encouraged to present. Both members and non-members of ACRL are welcome to submit. Those selected will be expected to present their papers in person at the forum at ALA Annual and to register for the conference.

What types of papers are suitable for submission to the ACRL Research Forum?

We welcome papers emphasizing the problems, theories, methodologies, or significance of research findings for LIS related to academic libraries and librarianship. Preference will be given to work that furthers the ACRL Plan for Excellence goals (demonstrating the value of academic libraries, student learning, and research and scholarly environment). For more information see .

Works in progress are encouraged. Papers that have been previously published or accepted for publication by December 16, 2011, are not eligible for consideration.

How do I submit a paper?

Submit the required author information and a 500-word abstract by mail or email ( to Marie L. Radford, Ph.D., School of Communication and Information, 4 Huntington St., New Brunswick, NJ 08901 USA by Friday, December 16, 2011.

The author information must include: name, email, phone and mailing address of contact person plus name(s) and affiliation(s) of additional authors, if applicable. The 500-word abstract must include the title of the paper, a problem statement, status of research (in progress or complete), problem significance, project objectives, methodology, and conclusions (or tentative conclusions for work in progress). If your research is complete, please confirm that your paper has not been published nor accepted for publication by December 16, 2011.

How will papers be selected and when will I know if my paper has been accepted?

At the 2012 ALA Midwinter Meeting, the ACRL Research Coordinating Committee will conduct a blind review to select a maximum of 3 papers. Review criteria include: significance of the study for academic libraries/librarians; quality and creativity of the methodology; and potential to fill gaps or build on previous research in academic libraries/librarianship, particularly with respect to the ACRL Plan for Excellence goals. All submitters will be notified by February 15, 2012.



Graduate research supervisors role in information literacy

See the results of a study, undertaken by the UK-based Research Information Network (funded by a consortium of UK higher ed institutions) between January and July 2011, investigating the place and role of PhD supervisors in the drive to ensure that research students possess the necessary level of information literacy to pursue their careers successfully in academia and beyond.

The key findings in the report include:

  • Research supervisors’ practice, and research student satisfaction, varies enormously between different supervisors, research groups, departments and institutions. There is also great variation across different elements of information literacy.
  • Research students are consistent in looking to their supervisor as a source of information and guidance.
  • There is a minority of supervisors who are not engaged in developing their research students’ information literacy.
  • Many supervisors have confidence in their ability to advise their research students on information literacy, though this does vary across the different elements.
  • Developing their research students’ academic writing ability is a key activity that supervisors undertake.
  • Supervisors are not always aware of departmental, school or institutional training and support available for their students, and sometimes find it difficult to identify what training and support is available.
  • Supervisors are not necessarily completely up to date themselves with information literacy skills and knowledge.
  • Training for supervisors is a polarising issue; many supervisors highlight overlong, overly generic or not useful training as a disincentive to attend further courses.
  • differences in students’ perceptions of their supervisor(s) role and success in providing support across university mission groups, subjects and mode of study are relatively minor. Instead there are major differences at the individual, research group and departmental level.

The report sets out four broad recommendations:

  • Making it easy for supervisors to keep up to date on what training, support and resources are available for both themselves and research students; for this purpose, providing supervisors with clear information, specific to their needs, on the range of appropriate offerings and development.
  • Improving development opportunities for supervisors, in particular by encouraging peer support between supervisors, notably through seminars and mentoring
  • Encouraging supervisors to support and discuss their research students’ skills assessments, for instance through mechanisms, jointly considered by supervisors and students, that could be used as a basis of planning development opportunities.
  • Finally, the evidence and findings lead to questions about the usefulness of the term ‘information literacy’ for supervisors, and how it is conceived within researcher development. In light of the understanding of the supervisors’ role and their attitudes offered by this report, institutional stakeholders can review their approach and ensure that a clear institutional position on the use of the term and concept is agreed.


Harvard’s $40M grant to support teaching and learning

Forwarded from Carol Rolheiser, CTSI —

…” This is a great story to stimulate our own thinking…wouldn’t it be great if UofT boldly embraced a similar set of aspirations and looked to others to support this? What do you think?…”C arol

watch the video:

and related to this, did you catch the article in the latest U Of T Bulletin on a fabulous literature-rich (and delicious) course for upper level students, called Cook the Books … innovative learning that deeply incorporates books and other information resources.



Librarian’s Guide to the Elevator Pitch

From the iLibrarian post:
“The elevator pitch is one of the most important tools for personal branding that you have and can be an excellent opportunity for you to promote yourself at conferences, events, job interviews, and even online.”

A compelling article with excellent links, including a DIY Elevator Pitch Wizard!


New Research from Project Information Literacy

(adapted from A. Head’s email)

Hello all –

We write with lots of news–four new releases–from Project Information Literacy (PIL). Today, we released a new research report about how students manage and use technology during the final weeks of the term, two new PIL videos, and a new Smart Talk interview.
We have included a blurb about each new release below along with an link to the source. As always, we hope you will find our new research useful, informative, and thought-provoking.

1) New PIL Research Report — The Technology Study

“Balancing Act: How College Students Manage Technology While in the Library during Crunch Time”
Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg
Released: October 1, 2011
How do college students manage and use technology while they are in the library during the final weeks of the term? The report from our ongoing study at the University of Washington’s Information School presents findings from 560 undergraduate interviews conducted at 10 US campuses during spring 2011. Findings suggest students adopt a “less is more” approach to manage and control all of the IT devices and information systems available to them while they are in the library during the final weeks of the term. The study is sponsored with a generous gift from both Cable in the Classroom and Cengage Learning.
2) Research Preview PIL video (2:51 minutes)
Released: October 12, 2011
A research preview video that highlights major findings from the 2011 PIL Technology Study, which had a sample of 560 interview respondents from 10 U.S. campuses in spring 2011.

3) New Smart Talk: Dr. Russell Poldrack, Poldrack Lab, University of Texas at Austin
The Q & A Interview

Released: October 12, 2011

A new PIL “Smart Talk” interview with University of Texas neuroscientist, Dr. Russ Poldrack, who discusses the brain, multitasking, and resulting effects on “deep learning.”

4) Overview PIL video (3:49 minutes)

What is Project Information Literacy?
Released: October 12, 2011
A short video about our ongoing research study at PIL, including our research questions and what we have discovered about how today’s college students find information and conduct research for coursework and in their everyday lives. An introduction to PIL that may be useful to show at brown bag lunches with colleagues and/or to students in class.
Alison J. Head, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, The Information School, The University of Washington
Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Library Innovation Lab, Harvard University


Library Impact Data Project

Assessment librarians should be aware of a project in the UK that is examining data from seven universities to discover if there are correlations between use of the library (borrowing of materials, downloading eResources, entering the library) and academic performance.  So far the results have been quite interesting.  You can visit their Web site at

They have developed a Tool Kit and they have links to publications and presentations.