The Information Literacy Interest Group met for our annual informal gathering at the ILA Fall Conference recently. Seven different institutions from across the state were represented by ten librarians, including two librarians new both to Iowa and the profession. Much of the meeting was spent introducing ourselves and talking about the state of IL at our respective institutions. Across the state Information literacy is embedded in pieces across required courses, an explicit Core outcome, a component of the Core without a dedicated course, in IL-designated courses, and in a professional development type course. There was talk of portal courses, integrating research and writing centers, and the “suggestion” model (meaning the variety of levels that faculty are expected to incorporate IL instruction with their course, ranging from strongly recommended to lip service with minimal library contact). The topic of incorporating more storytelling into teaching was raised and Josh Vossler’s work about constructing stories (presentation & handout) and using active ideas framed around big issues was shared. Kristy Raine, from Mount Mercy University, also talked about a course in which she compiled a backpack containing what a local child might actually have to better illustrate and make personal the idea of poverty impacting women and children in the U.S. The group plans to meet again during the IPAL and ILA-ACRL spring conferences.
We started with introductions, welcoming two new-to-the-profession (and to Iowa) librarians to the group. Then we went around the table and shared where we currently are in terms of IL within our institutions.
Those from Central College shared that they have been embedded in the first-year seminar course since 2000, with a big change in that course's organization having taken place last year. Previously the courses were all common, meaning texts and syllabi were the same. Now the courses have shifted so that a fourth of the content is shared across all sections (to meet the same learning outcomes) but the readings or approaches are not common. The librarians are working to find a balance in how much instruction they are able to do with each section; 4 sessions was too much, 2 was too few, so working to find the sweet spot. Currently they're working to modify their approach and brainstorm new ideas for working with this first-year population. Beyond that, librarians have involvement in the research and writing class where they work to bridge the divide between research and writing.
One of the new professionals in the group was from Wartburg College, and is still growing in her understanding of the level of library/librarian involvement, but provided the group with the following information. Currently there are 5 IL librarians embedding in a variety of classes, withing within the upper level courses/subject specific courses, but also working with a first year course for basic collegiate skill stepping stones such as ENGL 101 and other 100-level classes wherein they usually do approximately 2 workshops per semester per section.
Librarians from Grand View University shared that their focus has shifted from 1-shot sessions (though they do still happen in upper level courses) to a focus on embedding within the core courses after a curriculum update a few years ago. Each section of their first-year seminar has an embedded librarian where the librarian sees their section between 4-8 sessions. Instructors work with the librarians to meet the needs of their students, using a "menu" of sorts where they can select when various skills/approaches to IL will be covered in their course. This embedded relationship ensures all traditional freshmen receive instruction to help build their IL foundation in their first year. Then that foundation is built upon in a way that is subject/assignment specific, using different activities and approaches, should they return to the library for future instruction in upper-level courses. This helps prevent "library fatigue" and the "I already know this because I was in the library for class all freshman year" response. Throughout the curriculum there are courses that have to meet an IL requirement, which has led to faculty seeking out librarians as they develop assignments and look to teach their students more.
Librarians from Simpson College shared that they use scavenger hunts to increase engagement with students, getting them into the library and exploring the resources and space. Information literacy is part of the core, and IL instruction from librarians is suggested for faculty to incorporate (which many do). They've also found success in having students be required to meet with them for a research appointment (and then receive the librarian's signature after it is complete). They've cultivated a good relationship with the Writing Center where they refer students back and forth depending on their needs (i.e. Editing? Writing Center. Finding good stuff? Librarians.)
At Brown-Mackie College their non-traditional student population tackles month-long classes, which can be intensive. The librarian has access to the new, incoming student classes approximately three times. Because it is an iPad campus, 2 sessions are allotted for technology (iPad use, Apps), with the other being databases use/resource finding and APA citations. There is some interest in composition classes and others, but it can be difficult given time and staffing constraints to get into more classes.
Those from University of Dubuque shared that the campus has a wide range of student populations, academically ranging from traditional undergraduates, non-traditional/adult learners, seminary students, and masters level students. IL has been a core objective for the last 5 years, and librarians have been highly active with their instruction for the last 10-15 years, which took time to build up. In many of the core classes, students see librarians several times (6ish?), and there are many IL menus/modules lessons for professors to select from (and then are tailored to their class, particularly upper-level courses). They also work with the BRIDGE program, which is set up to help at-risk students be successful and develop strategies for how to approach assignments and classes at the college level. Librarians also help with assessment of student presentations/posters, both in developing the IL rubric, and assessing student work using the rubric.
The Mount Mercy representative indicated that, while there is no free-standing IL dedicated course, IL is a part of their core curriculum. There are portal courses for all freshmen, built around a theme, and several student support services are incorporated into the course, including the library. However, the level of involvement/buy in varies depending on the professor. Some departments have more interest in having a librarian partner with them in their courses for IL instruction than others (i.e. nursing has a lot of involvement and it is difficult to make headway in business). The librarian emphasized the importance of building relationships with faculty and advocating for library instruction; by building connections and serving faculty, the students are also served.
Interest was expressed in using more storytelling in library instruction. Josh Vossler’s work about constructing stories (presentation & handout) and using active ideas framed around big issues was shared. Kristy Raine, from Mount Mercy University, also talked about a course in which she compiled a backpack containing what a local child might actually have to better illustrate and make personal the idea of poverty impacting women and children in the U.S. In the bag she included what these kids (in the specific community they were examining) would have or not have, i.e. food, supplies, latch-key kid type foods that they could make or eat by themselves, etc. Others have mentioned using icebreakers, like having students pair up and share the story behind their name, can start to get conversation going.
We also briefly mentioned the Evernote repository where attendees of previous iLOVE events have shared resources, ideas, visuals, etc.
We're looking forward to seeing folks again soon for the spring conference -- Keep your eyes peeled, but it is looking like it will be held May 19, 2016.