Moving Forward on the Librarians Teaching Program and Practice Exchanges

CTSI’s seconded librarians — John Bolan, Angela Hamilton, Joanna Szurmak,  and I — have been continuing the tasks of developing a program of professional development for librarians who teach at the U of T.

Development of this program commenced in 2010, when the first group of CTSI-seconded librarians (Patricia Bellamy, Sarah Fedko, and Sheril Hook) developed several long term goals, and conducted a needs assessment for professional development of librarians who teach.  (You can read about those goals and review their final report.)

The results of this assessment revealed a need for a varied program of professional development, integrating formal learning, reflective practice, observations, and especially opportunities to share and learn from colleagues through communities of practice, also known as practice exchanges.

With a new group of librarians in 2011-12 (Patricia Bellamy, Whitney Kemble,Joanna Szurmak, and Rita Vine) our work focused on development of the formal learning aspect.  In the 8- week Fundamentals of University Teaching program offered each Spring through CTSI, 6 of the 18 participants were U of T librarians.  The experience was meaningful for all participants. We will continue to integrate a small group of librarians into future offerings of this program, and involve previous participants in break-out sessions for new librarian participants.

We also embedded librarians in CTSI’s popular Course Design/Re-Design Institute, as part of our continuing goal of building connections and partnerships between librarians, teaching faculty, and CTSI learning specialists.  Librarians continue to partner with CTSI staff to embed issues of information literacy into CTSI faculty workshops and the Teaching Assistants Training Program (TATP), and we intend to extend our work in this area in 2012-13.

We’re now ready to take the next step, that of implementing and assessing regular practice exchanges among librarians who teach at the University.  Interest in regular opportunities to share and learn from colleagues came up in the 2010 needs assessment, was reiterated as important by Fundamentals participants,  and has been an area of interest among members of the Instruction in Library Use Committee.  John Bolan of the Law Library will be coordinating and assessing a pilot of two semi-structured sessions, which will take place in January and February.  More information will be sent soon on dates and topics, and we hope that this will become a continuing forum to support the development of practice excellence in our organization.

By the way, if you’re interested in learning a bit more about communities of practice, there is a good brief summary in the latest issue of UBC’s Teaching and Learning Centre blog.