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Advocacy around proposed changes to the NWCCU Standards for Accreditation

Some of you may be following the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) accreditation standards revision process. They published a First Draft of the revised accreditation standards in which the standards overall have been pared down considerably. The library community is concerned that in the revised draft, the library is only mentioned in relation to collections, and information literacy is only mentioned as one of several examples of potential core competencies set at the institution level. We want to make sure that information literacy instruction and a requirement to employ qualified personnel remain in the standards. We are also concerned about the removal of any language about Academic Freedom, a critical element of intellectual freedom in higher education. The current NWCCU Standards are available for comparison.

The ACRL-Oregon Board has shared our concerns and suggestions with NWCCU. You can read our letter here and also at the bottom of this post. Please feel free to share it with others and you are welcome to use our suggestions in your own advocacy.

Nearly this exact same thing happened in New England several years ago with the NEASC accreditation standards and librarians had to mount a significant advocacy campaign to keep information literacy and libraries in the standards. Here are a few ways that you can help support library presence and values in the revised standards.

  1. Ask your institution’s Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO) to advocate for libraries and academic freedom. The ALO is the individual at your college or university who is responsible for working with NWCCU on accreditation. It’s often a Provost or Vice President of Academic Affairs, but the institution can designate who they wish. Advocacy from an ALO will be very influential. Please feel free to share our letter with your ALO.
  2. Comment on the current draft. There is a form you can use to provide feedback or you can send your comments to standards@nwccu.org.
  3. Spread the word! Get others — librarians, non-librarians, and organizations that have an interest in this — involved in advocacy. Librarians are not the only ones who should be concerned by these proposed changes.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best wishes,

Meredith Farkas
ACRL-Oregon President

______________________________________

Dear Drs. Huftalin and Powell and members of the NWCCU Bylaws, Standards, and Policies Committee:

The Association of College and Research Libraries, Oregon Chapter (ACRL-Oregon) Board is pleased to provide feedback on the current draft of NWCCU’s Accreditation Standards. Accreditation standards provide critical guidance to colleges and universities about what a successful institution should provide to students. Library resources, services, and personnel are critical components of institutional quality. By evaluating academic libraries merely on the adequacy of their information resources, NWCCU sends a message that libraries’ instructional work in support of student and faculty information literacy is not critical to maintaining a high quality institution of higher education.

We assert that collections, information resources, and information literacy instruction require the expertise of library and information professionals for both instruction and resource development and management. It is because of the dedicated work and teaching of qualified library faculty and staff that academic libraries are at the heart of their campuses. Librarians are frequent information literacy teaching partners with disciplinary faculty and are often embedded in courses, curricula, and campus initiatives. Library instruction is not only critical to improving student information literacy and mitigating achievement gaps, but also helps institutions maximize the value of those collections in which they’ve invested.

ACRL-Oregon suggests the following addition to section 2G, focused on Library and Information Resources:

2.G.2 Consistent with its mission, programs, services, and characteristics, the institution employs sufficient appropriately qualified library and information resources personnel to provide information literacy instruction in support of institutional student learning outcomes.

If standards around library instruction are softened, we will very likely see a decline in institutional support for these services. The removal of any mention of qualified library personnel or library instruction from the Standards could have a tremendously negative impact on library staffing and student information literacy.

We also believe that librarians should continue to serve on NWCCU accreditation review teams. Librarians are best positioned to evaluate the adequacy of library resources, personnel, and instruction, and also often have a unique birds-eye view of academic curricula as a consequence of their support of college or university disciplines.

The ACRL-Oregon Board is also deeply concerned about the proposed removal of the entire section of the current standards focused on academic freedom. Academic freedom is a bedrock principle for higher education. This principle is under attack on many fronts in the U.S today. The removal of any reference to academic freedom in the NWCCU accreditation standards removes an important and vital defense of this core principle. As such, ACRL-OR suggests the following addition to the draft standards:

2.B.5 Within the context of its mission, the institution defines and actively promotes an environment that supports academic freedom in the pursuit, dissemination, and teaching of knowledge. The institution adopts and adheres to policies and procedures that affirm the freedom of faculty, staff, administrators, and students to share their scholarship and reasoned conclusions with others, and protects its constituencies from inappropriate internal and external influences, pressures, and harassment.

Thank you for considering our suggestions.

Sincerely,

The Association of College and Research Libraries, Oregon Board

Meredith Farkas, ACRL-Oregon President, Portland Community College
Candise Branum, ACRL-Oregon Vice-President, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine
Steve Silver, ACRL-Oregon Past-President, Northwest Christian University
Angie Beiriger, Reed College
Kim Olson-Charles, Concordia University
Arlene Weible, State Library of Oregon
Rick Ball, Klamath Community College
Christopher Mansayon, Western Oregon University
Patrick Wohlmut, Linfield College
Katherine Donaldson, University of Oregon
Sarah Rowland, Eastern Oregon University
Janet Tapper, University of Western States
Aja Bettencourt-McCarthy, Oregon Institute of Technology

Meet your new ACRL-OR president (2018-19)

Hi! I’m Meredith Farkas and I’m ACRL-Oregon’s president from September 1, 2018 to August 31, 2019. In even years, ACRL-Oregon presidents hit the ground running as our Joint Conference at Menucha is in October, though my predecessor, Steve Silver, has been tremendously helpful in bringing me up to speed. Now that I’m settling into the role, I wanted to tell you a bit about myself.

I’m a librarian at Portland Community College (PCC) where I work at our Sylvania Campus. I’m currently the Library’s SAC (Subject Area Committee) Chair, which means that I basically lead work involving our curriculum and our yearly assessment expectations from the College. I love teaching and am a notorious assessment geek, so it’s a good role for me. I just finished working with a team that spent the last year redeveloping our LIB 101 (credit course) online shell, shifting the class to focus on the ACRL Framework – particularly the frames Authority Is Constructed and Contextual, Information Creation as a Process, and Information Has Value – and social justice issues in information/infolit. I am extremely fond of my colleagues and feel very lucky to work in a community college environment where there is a laser-focus on student success and supporting the whole student.

Photograph of Meredith Farkas with her family

I’ve lived in Oregon for close to eight years and really hope that it will be my forever home. Prior to coming to PCC in 2014, I worked at the Portland State University Library and before that I worked at a small private university in rural Vermont. I received my MLIS from Florida State University in 2004. I live with my fantastic husband and nine-year-old son (who I’m pleased has become an avid reader like his mother). Last year my son’s team won his school’s Oregon Battle of the Books and went on to Regionals! Coaching his team to victory was one of my proudest accomplishments, and so fun for a non-athletic person who is not likely to coach anything else. The best books I’ve read so far this year are There There and The Bright Hour (which are both heartbreaking, sorry!).

Prior to joining the ACRL-Oregon Board, I was a member and then Chair of the OLA Membership Committee where I helped start and administer the OLA Mentoring Program. Getting involved in OLA service when I moved to Oregon helped me get to know so many inspiring librarians throughout the state and I can’t recommend that path enough to other library staff or people new to the area or the profession.

In addition to the things ACRL-Oregon always does for its membership, the thing I came into this role most passionate about was creating ways for Oregon academic library staff to learn from each other without having to travel or pay to attend a conference. We’ll be piloting our online professional development offerings this winter and we hope you’ll participate and share your feedback.

I’m so thrilled to be a member of the Oregon academic library community and am proud to have been elected into this role. Please do get in touch if you have any feedback about how we can make ACRL-Oregon better – this organization is nothing without its members. You can reach me at acrlor@olaweb.org.

2018 ACRL-Oregon Award for Excellence Winner: Oregon Association for School Libraries (OASL) Learning Goals Project

The ACRL-Oregon Board is proud to award this year’s ACRL-Oregon Award for Excellence to the Oregon Association for School Libraries (OASL) Learning Goals project.

ACRL OR President Presenting Award for Excellence

ACRL-OR President Meredith Farakas presenting the 2018 Award for Excellence to Pam Kessinger

In 2016, the Oregon Association of School Librarians Standards Committee was directed by the OASL Board to write Grade Level Learning Goals for each standard and indicator of the Oregon School Library Standards. The committee wrote Grade Level Learning Goals for grades K-14 tied to the Standards, but also connected to the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy and the Common Core Standards. The initial writing was completed in the spring of 2017. A rewrite based on extensive feedback and the development of supporting documents is in process.

The Grade Level Learning Goals not only outline the sequence of Information Literacy skills that should be taught in grades K-12, they also include what should be taught in grades 13-14 to accommodate the learning goals of high school students enrolled in dual credit or college prep classes. They provide a granular and easy-to-follow roadmap for teaching information literacy not only for school librarians and library technicians, but for K-12 teachers and lower-division college faculty. It scaffolds a student’s learning and development of information literacy skills throughout a student’s time in school.

ACRL-Oregon Election Results

The ACRL-Oregon election results are in!

The ACRL-Oregon Board is pleased to present its newly-elected officers, who will start their terms on September 1:

Many thanks to all the candidates who ran for office in this election, and thanks to all the members who participated by casting their vote!

Steve Silver
President
ACRL-Oregon Chapter | Oregon Library Association – Academic Division

Oregon’s Dierdre Conkling wins ACRL’s Women and Gender Studies Section Career Achievement Award

Diedre Conkling

Diedre Conkling, Director, Lincoln County Library District

CHICAGO – Diedre Conkling, director of the Lincoln County Library District, has been selected as the 2018 winner of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Women and Gender Studies Section (WGSS) Career Achievement Award. The award honors significant long-standing contributions to women and gender studies in the field of librarianship over the course of a career.  A plaque and $750 award, donated by Duke University Press, will be presented to Conkling at a WGSS event during the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans.

“Diedre Conkling has been the linchpin that holds together the collective women’s groups in ALA, including WGSS, the Feminist Task Force (FTF), the Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship (COSWL), and the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA) Women Administrator’s Discussion Group,” said award chair Dolores Fidishun, head librarian at Penn State Abington. “Over the years, as the coordinator of FTF, she has partnered with chairs of WGSS and COSWL to plan and present the annual Introduction to Women’s Issues program.”

“As a longtime member of ALA Council and the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT), Conkling has continuously brought women’s issues to the forefront of our organization,” continued Fidishun. “She has served as an inspiration and mentor to many of us in the association. Through her activism she has demonstrated the power of women’s voices in ALA and in the world, always asking the important questions and looking for ways to move women’s agendas forward in ALA.”

“As one nominator wrote, ‘In whatever position she held at the moment – COSWL chair, FTF coordinator, SRRT coordinator, or simply committed librarian – she worked to bring together academic, public, school, and other librarians and library workers who shared a desire to focus on women’s issues in ALA and in libraries,’” said Fidishun. “For her leadership in bringing light to women’s and gender issues in our profession, we are proud to honor her with the WGSS Career Achievement Award.”

Conkling received her M.L.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

What’s New at FWJ Sylwester Library at Concordia University

Kim Olson-Charles, distance education and outreach librarian at Concordia University and current ACRL-Oregon board member, shared the news from the FWJ Sylwester Library.

Concordia University Library Postcard

Personnel changes:
Judy Anderson, the Dean of Libraries, retired this summer after many years at Concordia. Kim Read is now the Interim Dean of Libraries. Additionally, the library welcomes a new Electronic Resources Librarian, Carin Yavorcik, to its staff in mid-January; Carin comes to Concordia from the State of Oregon Law Library.

Concordia OER initiative:
The library is in its second year of leading a campus-wide OER initiative. Fifteen faculty attended this year’s Introduction to OER Workshop and ten faculty will receive a stipend to peer review an open textbook. Stipends to convert courses from commercial textbooks to OER will also be offered again this year, adding to the six courses converted last year.

Personal Librarian Program:
This past fall, Concordia initiated a pilot Personal Librarian Program. As a part of a larger university mandate to address student recruitment and retention, the library contributed by creating the Personal Librarian Program.  Faculty librarians reached out to incoming first-year students throughout fall semester to connect them to a familiar and friendly face that could help them navigate the library and its resources.

Dedication of Wai Tak Cheung Collection at OCOM

The library at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) recently held a dedication ceremony for the Wai Tak Cheung Collection. The collection consists of over 1,500 Chinese-language books on the topic of Traditional Chinese Medicine, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, Chinese biomedical texts, health and nutrition, and a range of other topics; another 300 or so books still need to be processed for the collection. Candise Branum, the library’s director, believes that this could possibly be the largest collection of this type in the United States.

Photograph of Wai Tak Cheung Collection

Historically, Dr. Cheung was known as “The Father of Acupuncture in Oregon,” helping to bring about legislative changes to legalize and promote the profession in the state.  He was also involved in creating OCOM’s original curriculum and when he passed, he donated his personal library to OCOM. The Wai Tak Cheung collection is searchable via the library’s Primo catalog and on WorldCat, and the library also lends the materials via WorldShare.

ACRL-OR report from 2017 Joint Conference

ACRL-OR was well represented at the ACRL Joint Conference for Washington and Oregon at Pack Forest in mid-October. The conference theme “Tried and True or Shiny and New” gave the attendees from both Oregon and Washington an opportunity to explore such topics as just in time assessment and how OER is being integrated and implemented at Tacoma Community College.

A huge hit was the short talks of epic fails!  Presenters shared their library moments, programs and classes that were duds or even huge mistakes. Each of the “failed” librarians learned something from their experience and bravely and nobly, shared their lessons learned with the conference attendees.

ACRL-OR was able to meet in the evening to discuss the upcoming scholarships for professional development with enhanced funding from LSTA monies and kick around ideas for next Fall’s joint OR/WA ACRL conference at Menucha where the Oregon group will host and provide programming. Lots of great ideas were brought up by the attending group. Two themes, “Collaborating for Greater Impact” and “Reimagining Advocacy” were seriously discussed but neither was chosen as a final theme at the time.

Since the conference, the ACRL Board has decided on the theme of “Reimagining Advocacy: Personal, Professional, Political.” If you have any ideas for conference speakers, the board would love to hear them! Contact Steve Silver at acrlor@olaweb.org.

What’s Happening with Statewide Database Licensing?

Text by Arlene Weible, State Library of Oregon and Lynda Irons, Pacific University


Logo for the State Library of OregonThe State Library of Oregon licenses electronic resources and databases for use by academic, school, public, and tribal libraries in Oregon. These resources are available at no cost to Oregon libraries through the Statewide Database Licensing Program (SDLP). This program is supported in whole by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).

Currently, SDLP resources include a suite of Gale/Cengage Learning databases and LearningExpress Library. The State Library’s contract with Gale/Cengage Learning expires in July 2018, so work is currently underway on a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new contract.

Learning Express Logo

The Statewide Database Licensing Advisory Committee (SDLAC) works closely with State Library staff to develop the RFP and evaluate proposals. The committee has representatives from all types of libraries, including these academic librarians

  • Karen Kunz, Oregon Institute of Technology, representing public academic institutions
  • Lynda Irons, Pacific University, representing private academic institutions
  • Amy Hofer, Statewide Open Education Library Services, representing community colleges

SDLAC members have developed category descriptions and evaluation rubrics, ranging from what is not acceptable to what is desirable for each category, including

  • Academic Journal Database
  • General Online Encyclopedia
  • General Periodical Resources
  • Reference Resources
  • Contemporary Issues Resources
  • Lifelong Learning and Skills Courses

Academic librarians have provided leadership for the SDLAC as it moves through the RFP development and evaluation process. Previous chair Emily Miller-Francisco (Southern Oregon University) and current chair Lynda Irons as well as the other academic library representatives have particularly worked on developing evaluation criteria for the academic journal database category of the RFP.

Here is the timeline for remaining RFP activities:

September 21, 2017 SDLAC Meeting – Finalize RFP content
November 2017 RFP posted
January-March 2018 Proposals evaluated by SDLAC
Spring 2018 SDLAC Meeting – Finalize recommendation
May 2018 LSTA Council Meeting – Approval of recommendation and LSTA FFY 2018 budget approved
June 2018 OSL Board Meeting – Approval of recommendation and LSTA FFY 2018 budget finalized
June-July, 2018 New Contract finalized
July 31, 2018 Gale contract ends

If you would like to provide feedback to the academic library representatives, their contact information as well as other information about the program is available on the Statewide Database Licensing Program web site.

Columbia Gorge Community College adopts Sanctuary Status

On May 9th, The Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC) Board of Education unanimously voted to join a growing list of colleges and the State of Oregon in adopting sanctuary status in light of concerns regarding federal immigration policies. This was a surprising turn of events that played over two months of public comments. At the latest board meeting covering this issue, over 40 students presented testimonials about what sanctuary status would mean to them and their academic goals. The Board was moved by the thoughtfulness and size of students sharing their concerns.

“I’ve been touched by the testimony of so many people over the past few months,” said board member Stu Watson, who brought the successful motion declaring sanctuary. “Obviously there are concerns, and it’s going to be played out in the courts. Yet at the end of the day it’s up to us to take sides” (CGCC, 2017).

Initially, the Board was not in favor of sanctuary status as it might affect federal funding such as Pell Grants. But this resolution doesn’t affect existing policy, and the Board doesn’t expect the vote to have an impact on federal funding.

The Board’s vote aligns with efforts of CGCC to implement Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) programs. CGCC is one of the few Oregon colleges designated as an HSI by HACU. As CGCC strives to implement new policies and strategies through this initiative, the library continues to revamp collections and services by building on a Hispanic and Latinx program begun several years ago.  By continuing to build resources and realigning information literacy instruction, we strive to increase our impact on the CGCC campus, community, and student’s academic and life-long learning success.

Reference

Columbia Gorge Community College (CGCC). (2017). College Board approves sanctuary designation. Retrieved from https://www.cgcc.edu/news/college-board-approves-sanctuary-designation