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The Benefits of ACRL-OR Involvement: A Board Member’s Personal Perspective

The following post is written by Garrett Trott, ACRL-OR Member at Large (2015-2017)


Hello,

I am in the middle of my second term on the ACRL-OR board. My first term was from 2007-2010 as VP/President-Elect, President, and Past President. In the spring of 2015, I was voted in as a member-at-large. I started in September of 2015, and my term will end in August of 2017. I have found involvement with ACRL-OR very valuable, and I would like to encourage others, if you are not already, to be involved to some degree in ACRL-OR.

What makes it valuable? I work at Corban University library. We are a small institution (about 1100 FTE), and we have a small library staff (3.5 FTE) – this includes both professional and paraprofessional staff. One of the reasons I originally pursued involvement with ACRL-OR was because I wanted to be able to serve my institution better by learning about what other libraries are doing, having a little more interaction with colleagues, and learning from them how they are dealing with issues impacting libraries throughout the state of Oregon.

My first term proved incredibly beneficial. What did I learn? The first thing I learned was the power of association. I am certain that many are familiar with this concept, but to be honest, after having worked in a fairly small institution for some time, that concept is easy to forget. The power of association simply implies that groups and organizations are much more powerful and can accomplish more than a single individual.

A second aspect that has made the ACRL-OR board valuable is how they work. I have served on a handful of differing boards, some have been driven by certain agendas, and some have had a very narrow singular focus. While I do not want to say that ACRL-OR does not have a focus nor do I want to suggest that it lacks any agenda, one remarkable element that I found immensely valuable in my terms on the board is the fact that the board was willing to listen, offer feedback, and often times accept and even embrace new ideas. They serve as a wonderful sounding board for not only what works in their libraries, but what can work to impact academic libraries throughout the state of Oregon. If you want to see change take place in Oregon academic libraries, ACRL-OR is a very viable venue to speak your voice.

As academic librarians, we work in education. Although I realize that this is not true in all scenarios, I do find it a bit ironic (and I hope many would agree) that there are educational institutions that are lacking support for education (AKA professional development) for their own faculty and staff. I do understand the warrant for fiscal restraints in this area, but at least in principle, all academic institutions should support professional development. We are also aware that individuals have differing learning styles. One of the ways that I learn best is through dialog with my colleagues, learning how they handle certain situations, and empathizing with their frustrations. My involvement with ACRL-OR granted me these opportunities in my first term, and I have found them available abundantly in my second as well.

If you are looking for opportunities to grow and develop as an Oregon academic librarian, I would encourage you to pursue looking at ACRL-OR as a venue through which this can happen. For my particular context, working in a small library, involvement with the ACRL-OR board has been an incredibly worthwhile investment of my time and effort. The rewards of being on the board have far outweighed the time and effort invested.


Garrett Trott
Librarian
Corban University

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College Readiness and Library Research Skills: Observations from Oregon

Photo of student frustration

Source from Catholic Online; click image to view source

A recent article in Library Journal, “First Year College Readiness,” highlights some of research skills academic librarians have observed first year students struggling with when they reach college. Over-reliance on Google, superficial knowledge of plagiarism, and lack of experience with researching and writing analytical papers were just a few of the themes touched on in the article. It got me wondering if Oregon academic librarians had similar observations, given the decrease in licensed school librarians in the state.

In a very informal survey, I asked ACRL-OR members and other academic librarians involved in library instruction to relay their thoughts about first year college students’ skills. Below are highlights from the responses I received. Based on this small sample, it seems that Oregon students struggle with similar issues outlined in the article. I was encouraged by optimism and strategies for addressing those issues also expressed in some of the responses.


“Far too many of them think that the first 20 returns on a Google search are sufficient ‘research.’”


“My experience is pretty consistent with the Library Journal article, but maybe a bit more extreme. There are no credentialed school librarians in this part of the state, and over time we have seen a decrease in skills by the time students get to college. They come from rural areas with very small schools, where they don’t receive IL instruction, and where, in some cases, they don’t even have access to computers. This is one reason we have IL credit courses at EOU, and students do learn how to do all of these things. We just wish there was more of a foundation that we could build on at the college level rather than starting from scratch. 

  • Students often think they understand plagiarism, but we find they don’t know how to cite correctly, and they don’t know that they need to cite when they paraphrase. They only know that you need to cite a quote.
  • Students don’t know what databases are, or even what journals are. I have had students write in an assignment, “books won’t have the information I need,” because they think all books are fiction. This is rare (happened twice).
  • They don’t understand the vocabulary of information. Not jargon, but even basic things like the difference between print and digital, subscription, periodical, credentials. These are all words students have asked me to define.
  • They don’t understand the way search engines and the Internet work, and how that has an impact on their searching.
  • They want to find information quickly, and are hesitant to use print materials or to wait for interlibrary loan. 
  • They don’t know how to synthesize information from multiple sources, and they seek that one perfect source that will exactly answer their research question.
  • They don’t know what makes an appropriate research question for college-level research.
  • They do know they should not use Wikipedia as a source, but they don’t always know why.”

“I always stress how important it is to have passion for the topic they are researching. Often the students are not fully prepared with their topics and so much of the process is making sure they have a topic that they can work with and have formulated a relevant question. Students are quick to walk away from a topic when they can’t find anything. Often, a library instruction session is more about selling myself as a mentor than anything else.”


“I think ‘kids today’ actually know a lot more than we give them credit for. They’ve learned to search google by typing in phrases. You’d be surprised how often just typing your thesis statement into EBSCO or Gale (without quotes) is an excellent search strategy!”


“I talk to freshman about how using library resources online is their invitation into a part of the invisible web that they now have access to for the first time. … this is their chance to learn more and go to the next level as researchers, which intrigues them, especially when I emphasize that they have paid-for access to these resources with their tuition and fees.” [and research is a job skill valued by potential employers!]


It is clear that librarians are key in helping students learn the research skills they need for college. When that is not an option, at least Oregon does have a tool to help. If you haven’t done so, make sure to check out the great research process guidance offered by the Oregon School Library Information System (OSLIS).

OSLIS logo

Thanks to Steve Silver, Sarah Ralston, Dotty Ormes, Michael Grutchfield, and Kimberly Willson-St Clair for their responses to my questions.

Thanks also to Robert Schroeder for pointing me to the survey he conducted with Oregon librarians in 2007:

Schroeder, R. (2009). Both sides now: Librarians looking at information literacy from high school and college. Tips. Educators’ Spotlight Digest, 4(1).


Arlene Weible
ACRL-OR Board, State Library Representative
Oregon State Library
Arlene.weible@state.or.us

Request for personal perspectives: What do first year college students know (or not know) about research?

Greetings!

I am collecting stories for an upcoming ACRL-OR blog post about first-year college students and their knowledge of library research. Inspired by a recent article in Library Journal (http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2016/05/academic-libraries/the-first-year-college-readiness/), I would like to highlight any trends or gaps in knowledge that academic librarians notice about Oregon’s first-year college student’s ability to conduct research for an assignment or use the library. Are the issues highlighted in the LJ article consistent with what you are seeing or are their other trends you notice?

Please email me your comments, observations, and opinions by June 20. (See contact info below.) The blog post will appear in July on the ACRL-OR blog, https://acrloregon.org/.

Photo of college students

“College Students” by CollegeDegrees360 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Thanks for your assistance!

–Arlene

Arlene Weible
Electronic Services Consultant
Oregon Federal Regional Depository Coordinator
Library Support and Development Services
Oregon State Library
250 Winter St NE
Salem OR, 97301
503-378-5020
arlene.weible@state.or.us
http://oregon.gov/osl/ld/

Make Your Academic Voice Heard: OLA Request for Academic Librarian Strategic Planning Priorities

Last summer, the OLA Board decided to embark on strategic planning. OLA wants to be the library association that you want and would be proud to be a participant in. After much deliberation, the OLA Board voted to hire a strategic planning consultant.

With Coraggio Group‘s help, the planning committee (Michele Burke, Robin Rolfe, Hannnah Rempel, Berenice Creecy, Elsa Loftis, and myself) has put together a survey.

Please help us achieve the best results possible for all of us in the Oregon library community by filling it out. The last date is April 15.

 OLA Strategic Plan Survey

If you have any questions, just ask me or one of the other planning committee members. Also, if you’d be interested in participating in a focus group, I’d love to hear that, too.


~Jane Corry
OLA President 2015-16
503-988-6140

Breaking through the Debate: Understanding, Critiquing, and Applying the Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education

by Annie Downey, PhD, MLS,
ACRL-Oregon Private Colleges Representative (2014 – 2016)


Academic librarians have been grappling with ACRL’s Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education for over a year now. The very fact that we need so much scholarly work and effort spent trying to understand the framework is fantastic for a theory lover like me, but can fall somewhere between unsettling and terrifying for librarians who are not interested in theoretical work. I’ve heard librarians grumble that if others are not willing to engage in the theory, then they are lesser in some way. What I find most interesting is that the theory-pushers are often librarians who are invested in social justice and the ideas of fairness and democracy that most of us believe lie at the heart of librarianship.

IL Framework screenshot

I suggest we take that grumbling on both sides of the debate and think about it through the lens of social justice and consider what librarianship is as opposed to what it should or could be. As much as we may not like it, librarianship as it stands is an underpaid, largely misunderstood and under respected, female dominated profession. These things matter because when you ask someone who is overworked, feels under appreciated, and struggles to get by on a librarian salary to invest the kind of time and intellectual energy that it takes to truly transform their teaching practice without giving them more time to engage with and think about the ideas, you are discounting the real struggles they may be going through. This played out in a thought provoking and by turns frustrating and heartening discussion on the acrlframe discussion list over the last couple of weeks. If you are not a list member, I encourage you to sign up for the good stuff the list offers and to read the archives.

While many librarians are pro-Framework based on its expansion of what information literacy instruction should look and feel like and its attempt to create more of a theoretical underpinning for information literacy, most librarians (even those known for their vocal support for critical information literacy) struggle with time and organizational constraints that can make developing a broader, more theoretically-informed practice difficult at best and impossible at worst.

I am also sympathetic to those that ache for librarianship to be more than what it currently is. I want us to do a better job of pulling from and being a part of educational theory. As educators, we should understand the basics of teaching and learning theory and not rely only on our own scholarly and practical literature. (If you are not sure where to get started, I recommend Eamon Tewell’s A Decade of Critical Information Literacy: A Review of the Literature.) I think librarianship needs to be more reflective and based in praxis so I find myself somewhere in the middle of the Framework debate.

Though I think the Framework still needs work, I believe it is a huge improvement over the Standards. However, I also acknowledge that I am one of those lucky librarians who does have the time to think about and engage with theory because of where I work and because I have a stay-at-home husband whose work provides me with the time and freedom to spend my evening hours thinking and writing when I am involved with a project that requires it. The other side of this coin though is that I am the primary breadwinner for my family and that is a real challenge even on a good librarian salary. There are months when I go to work and come home and think I cannot possibly give any more because I need to figure out how we are going to pay for everything our three growing daughters need. In the spirit of straddling the middle of the line, I am sharing some of my favorite pieces that have come from the debate in the realm of understanding and critiquing the Framework and then because so many librarians are struggling with putting it into practice, I am also sharing some resources for applying the framework.

Understanding

Critiquing

Applying


What are your thoughts on this debate? Have you applied the new IL Framework at your institution? Please leave a comment about your experiences thus far with the new IL Framework.

 

New Intellectual Freedom email list

Breaking news from the Libs-Or list-serv about a new Intellectual Freedom email list!


Library staff as well as scholars, academics, debate coaches and others with a professional interest in intellectual freedom are invited to join a new email news list: ola-ifc email list

This list will provide a forum to share news, information, and resources related to intellectual freedom. For example, the OLA Intellectual Freedom Committee and the Oregon State Library maintain a database of news articles about book challenges and other intellectual freedom issues in Oregon: Intellectual Freedom Issues in Oregon News Database. New content is added to this resource twice a year, which may be of interest to instructors who assign writing topics related to banned books, as well as others in the library community.

Intellectual Freedom Issues in Oregon News Database graphic

This ola-ifc email list is maintained by the OLA Intellectual Freedom Committee in cooperation with the Oregon State Library. To send an email on this list, address it to ola-ifc@listsmart.osl.state.or.us.

Please extend this invitation to teachers, scholars, writers or others in your community who may be interested in receiving intellectual freedom news. Here is the link to subscribe: ola-ifc email list

Feel free to contact us with questions or comments.

Thanks and best wishes,
Roberta Richards and Garnetta Wilker, OLA IFC co-chairs

Roberta Richards
Faculty Reference Librarian
971-722-4962
rrichard@pcc.edu

Share Your Great ACRL-OR/WA Conference Ideas!

Academic librarians of the Pacific Northwest, we need our input! ACRL-OR is launching planning for the 2016 Joint Fall Conference at Menucha.

Please share your thoughts about what the conference theme should address or who our keynote speaker(s) should be:  http://goo.gl/forms/Y7F9uZdWq5

Thanks to ACRL-WA for the successful 2015 ACLR-WA/OR Fall Conference at Pack Forest!

~ Uta Hussong-Christian, ACRL-OR President, 2015-2016

OER action around the state

It’s a hot moment for the open education movement in Oregon. Over the past 5 years, I’ve worked on OER (open educational resources) initiatives at two colleges now — Lane Community College and now at Portland Community College — and, finally, it feels like there is statewide momentum. At many institutions, libraries are leading the way to more affordable education by helping instructors replace expensive course materials with open or library-provided materials. ACRL-OR has already honored one great project out of CGCC, and many other colleges are working on similar initiatives.

Here at PCC, we’re proud to report that open and low-cost materials are already saving students over $70,000 per term, but we’re pressing to do more. Our OER Steering Committee, which I co-chair with our fantastic colleague, Rachel Bridgewater, has set a goal to save students 1 million dollars by fall 2017. We currently have 3 PCC teams who received state funding from openoregon.org in math, reading, and health, and I’m working to prep folks to apply for the second round of funding, which should be announced later this fall.

Screenshot of Oregon House Bill 2871

In other big news, over the summer, the Oregon legislature passed a bill, HB 2871, which:

  • funds 2 OER positions within HECC
  • requires HECC to identify OER for 30 transferable, high-enrollment courses
  • funds OER “grant programs” for Oregon colleges and universities
  • requires Oregon colleges and universities to label “low cost or no cost” courses in their catalogs and schedules

Wow. There’s a lot packed in there, and we’ve got our work cut out for us, but, here at PCC, we’re hopeful that this means more productive funding and OER energy from the state.

Meanwhile, back at PCC, I’m grateful to have such wonderful librarian colleagues who have been helping interested faculty in their liaison areas explore OER. Especially at such a large institution, it really takes a village to get any traction. We’ve got faculty in many disciplines experimenting, and some who have used open resources for years, but many are still skeptical. This year, I am going to continue to reach out to faculty, especially in high-enrollment transfer classes where many open options already exists (check out the University of Minnesota’s Open Textbook Library for a start). If we can get just one or two of those courses to switch from a traditional textbook to an open one, the potential student savings would be huge, and faculty in other areas would have a local model to build upon.

Is your institution exploring or creating OER? How are you involved?

Join us for the PNW Institutional Repository User Group – Planning Meeting!

Graphic for IR

ALA graphic for IR. Click image for source.

As more academic libraries have focused on how best to collect, preserve, and promote the scholarly and creative work of our faculty and students, it has created a new community of practice within the Pacific Northwest. We would like to bring that community together to share ideas and best practices and to identify opportunities for collaboration.

Our tentative goal is to create an annual IR user group meeting for IR managers in the Pacific Northwest (with the initial meeting in 2016). As a first step, we are having a planning meeting that is adjacent to the 2015 Orbis Cascade Alliance Summer Meeting. Anyone working with an IR in the Pacific Northwest is welcome to attend this meeting — membership in the Alliance is not required (nor will it be limited to be press institutions).

If you’re not able to attend, please send us your ideas for what a PNW IR user group meeting could/should look like (and whether it’s even a good idea!).

Date: July 9, 2015 / 12-1 pm

Location: Warner Pacific College, Room 120 (next to the cafeteria)

Details: Lunch is not provided, so bring a snack or brown bag lunch. We may adjourn to a local restaurant afterwards for a late lunch if there is interest.

Contact: Karen Bjork (kbjork@pdx.edu), Isaac Gilman (gilmani@pacificu.edu), Sue Kunda (kundas@mail.wou.edu), or Kathleen Spring (kspring@linfield.edu)


~ Isaac Gilman (ACRL-Oregon Past President, 2014-2015)
Scholarly Communications & Research Services Librarian
Pacific University

Books Mentioned at Menucha

The following titles are ones mentioned in the keynote addresses and talks at the ACRL-Oregon/Washington Joint Fall Conference in Menucha:

There was an informal suggestion at the conference for a virtual book club or an ACRL-OR/WA book list in Goodreads… any thoughts or further suggestions?