Thursday, April 11, 2013

IPAL Preconference Ask the Masses Ideas Recap

Here are some of the ideas discussed during the Ask the Masses round. We're always accepting more questions on the blog--Submit yours here: Thanks to all who attended!

Ask the Masses Questions and Responses

A question was asked about encouraging faculty to attend library faculty development sessions. What are some ways you encourage faculty to attend professional development sessions? Do you collaborate with other departments on campus? Try to fold sessions into other training days? Videos? One-on-One training?I've been encouraged by new faculty members' willingness to participate, but what about "veteran" faculty members who "already know everything"? Suggestions:
  • Visit with new faculty as subject liaisons
  • Show what example IL sessions would look like in 100, 200, 300 level classes
  • Faculty testimonials--help spread the word within the department by asking faculty you've previously worked with to mention library services. Having them sing your praises will hold more weight than a song and dance routine selling library services to new faculty. 
  • Email new faculty and offer to buy coffee to help start the conversation (here you can “sneak in the vegetables” and help give new faculty context about the student population, their skill levels, and how their assignments may or may not be doable for students, or help them realize what skills students do and do not come in with)
  • Sometimes, developing a lesson plan that shows the professor that the students don't know what the professor thinks they know (in a way that doesn't intimidate or discourage the students) and have the professor actually see that they aren't able to meet the objectives as they stand without making modifications to the assignment or activity. (Kind of like the Princess Bride's "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.") 
  • Sometimes just those informal connections, grabbing a beer, wandering the halls in your liaison areas to help start conversations, being available and open, breaking out of the library clique and sitting with non-library folks at faculty/staff meetings and campus events, etc. can help open faculty development and instruction doors. 
  • Sending news items to faculty who might find it interesting (even if they don't currently have any library instruction sessions or library assignments)
  • Setting up Google Alerts for the professors names in your liaison areas and then emailing them when you get a notification that they've published or made the news
  • In terms of building relationships with faculty, some institutions require professors to meet with faculty whenever they are working on a new course proposal. Others suggested volunteering with non-library events around campus, particularly those for which you are the liaison. Things like helping host, set up, ushering, signage and marketing, etc.

Another question was asked about faculty status vs. non-faculty status of librarians at institutions, just to get a general idea of what policy is around the state.

  • There was a mix of both faculty and non-faculty, along with several hybrid librarians who are considered non-tenure faculty and have duties associated with both faculty and staff.
  • There were also some concerns brought up about faculty attitudes toward librarians within non-faculty librarian institutions; disregarding librarian contributions because "oh, you're not faculty." 

Finally, the group discussed whether or not professors should attend library instruction sessions with their students. There were some really good points brought up on both sides.

  • Some like having the professor there because it is good for them to be available to answer questions about the assignment guidelines and requirements.
  • Others like not having the faculty there because 1) it shows trust in the librarians that they're willing to hand over their classes to the librarians and 2) it gives the librarian more freedom to teach and speak freely, teach in their own way. Someone else liked the sessions without the professor because the students are more honest about their struggles, successes, and points of confusion. 
  • At my institution we require professors to be in the sessions with the students because oftentimes students will see that the professor isn't in attendance and either 1) skip the session or 2) not pay attention during the session. Also, we think it is important for the faculty member to be there to help clarify expectations (as mentioned above) and this helps us “sneak in the vegetables” with the faculty and teach them about library resources and offerings. I'm also a big fan of "talking the talk and walking the walk," so if I expect students to be able to do something, I'm going to make sure I'm able to do it (and make sure they see that I'm there alongside them). 

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