Published on March 13, 2009
The Life and Times of an Embedded Librarian Galadriel Chilton Presentation Outline Speaking Points o Introduction Agenda o o What is an embedded librarian? o What I did and what my colleague Jen Holman is doing. o An embedded librarian: Why or why not? o Tools for embedding o Your thoughts & questions What is an embedded librarian? o It depends on who is embedding… o Inspired by the phenomenon of embedded journalists during the o Iraq war, but embedded librarianship has taken on a variety of forms. First I‟ll give you a few examples of embedded librarianship, and then explain what I did. Examples o In 2004, Steven Bell and John Shank proposed the concept of a o „blended librarian‟ as a “blueprint for redefining the teaching and learning role of academic librarians” (p. 372) by taking skills of traditional librarianship and blending them with the tools and skills of an information technologist‟s hardware/software abilities and an instructional designer‟s “ability to apply technology appropriately in the teaching-learning process” (p. 373). Barbara Dewey from the University of Tennessee and Knoxville o describes embedded librarianship as a concept that “…implies a more comprehensive integration of one group with another to the extent that the group seeking to integrate is experiencing and observing, as nearly as possible, the daily life of the primary group. Embedding requires more direct and purposeful interaction than acting in parallel with another person, group, or activity” (6). In her article, Dewey sees embedded librarianship as a means through which academic librarians become more integrally involved in strategic campus development and growth: through faculty senate, strategic planning committees, space/campus design involvement, collaboration with faculty research, etc. Libraries & Technology Conference Page 1 of 10 March 19, 2009
Speaking Points However, in most academic libraries, the embedded librarians o tend to support information literacy instruction and to virtually embed, focusing on support of distance and online students, students who were missing campus info lit sessions. I‟ve also read about „field librarians‟ or embedded librarians that go to the physical space of their users to provide support. In Health Science Libraries, embedded librarians appear to be o known as “informationists” and provide medical staff w/ research/reference support in a clinical setting for specific medical teams. NIH began using this model in 2004. At the University of Rhode Island, Pulaski Technical College, and o the Community College of Vermont, embedded librarians are embedded librarians provide online students with library instruction experiences that were not previously available. Though not referred to explicitly as an embedded librarian o program, librarians at the Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar have a service objective to “infiltrate the curriculum in such a way that librarians become part of the student and faculty workflow”. In this example, one librarian was the liaison for a single course and the librarian met with at least one student from the students‟ working group each week at the recommendation/endorsement of the professor. At Penn State, Erie, Russell Hall‟s experience as an embedded o librarian for a freshmen speech class is completely face2face. He attended every class session and provided two library instruction sessions: one on library databases and one on web evaluation. At Daniel Webster College in New Hampshire, embedded librarian o Michael Hearn teaches 3.5 information literacy sessions and grades students‟ bibliographies for a general education English course. For me, being an embedded librarian is a means of significantly o enhancing information literacy instruction and incorporates Dewey‟s definition as well as Bell and Shank‟s concept of a blended librarian. I‟m blending librarianship as well as technology and teaching skills, and also blending/embedding into the student-teacher interactions that occur during a semester. What I Did and What My Colleague Jen Holman is Doing First I‟ll give you a little background: o UW-L is located in La Crosse, Wisconsin; population 52,000 o 2,305 first year students came to UW-L in fall 2008 o 79% of these students were in the top 25% of their class o Course Info o Description of CST 110: Public Oral Communication o Required element of UW-L‟s General Education Curriculum o # of CST110 sections: 46 in Fall 2007; 36 in Spring 2008. 43 in o Fall 2008; 37 in Spring 2009. Libraries & Technology Conference Page 2 of 10 March 19, 2009
Speaking Points The Communication Studies Dept. has a history of o collaboration with the library – their learning outcomes for this freshman class include information literacy – and all CST110 instructors bring their classes to the library for an instruction session. Becoming Embedded o Established, and positive relationship with Joseph Van Oss, the o instructor the classes I was/am the Embedded Librarian. What I did: o Refer to PPT for Fall and Spring comparisons What Jen did or is doing: o Refer to PPT for Fall and Spring comparisons In Fall 2008, I was out of the office on extended leave and my o colleague Jenifer Holman, Acquisitions and Periodicals Librarian, kindly agreed to be the embedded librarian for Van Oss‟ classes (3 sections each semester). Then, when scheduling prevented me from being an embedded librarian for Van Oss this semester, Jen happily stayed on. An embedded librarian: why or why not? Why? To match what I know… o Word of Mouth is Very Powerful o Human Nature: “78% of global consumers say they trust and believe other people's recommendations for products and services - more than any other medium, including newspapers, conventional and online advertising.” (Brand Strategy) Undergraduate Library Use: According to Ehtelene Whitmire‟s study of undergraduate library use, two top factors contributing to undergraduates‟ use of the library during their first 3 years of college include high school library experience and interactions with/recommendations by their college professors. UW-L Students: As part of a Marketing class, 5 students conducting a study of our newly opened Library Café. Part of their work included a survey where they found that 95% of student respondents were aware that Murphy‟s Mug existed and that “the top two ways students heard about Murphy’s Mug were by word-of-mouth and by seeing in the library.” My thought was that if word of mouth is so powerful, then perhaps the professor‟s endorsement of me as a librarian for their class would encourage students to seek research assistance. Then we have Today’s Students o At the beginning of each semester, Joseph Van Oss, the CST110 professor with whom I‟m working asks his students Libraries & Technology Conference Page 3 of 10 March 19, 2009
Speaking Points Do you see yourself as fully an adult, or still getting there? Vast majority say they are definitely still getting there. This suggests that a little more hands on, a little more hand-holding may be helpful to students Raised by Helicopter Parents Results of 839 parents surveyed by the College Parents of America indicates that 74% of parents communicate with their children 2-3 times a week, and that one out of three talked to their kids daily! (Rainey, A., 2006). In a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article reporting survey results of students‟ views on helicopter parents, it was noted that students want the parental hovering and that in college students don‟t trust anyone as much as their parents. (Hoover, E., 2008). Students seek help with their college work, often asking their parents for help editing their papers (Marshall, A., Burns, V., and Briden, J., 2007). So, it‟s not that students don‟t seek help with their academic work, it‟s just that they are used to very close, personal, relationships with an established trust Which brings us to the question - Who do they trust? In his article on the “Good News Generation” John Leo cites a 2003 Gallup poll saying that “90% of teens say they are very close to their parents” and also notes that “Millennials are apt to trust their parents, teachers, and police…and are likely to trust presidents too” (Leo, 2003). Note how “librarians” didn’t make the millennials trust list! Yet, as Curzon-Hobson writes in “A Pedagogy of Trust in Higher Learning”, “…trust is a fundamental element in the pursuit of higher learning for it is through a sense of trust that students will embrace an empowering experience…” (p. 266). “…without this sense of trust, the dialogical learning experience will be restricted…” (p. 276). So, if word of mouth is powerful, students trust their professors, and trust is essential for higher learning such as information literacy skills, then perhaps being an embedded librarian would help students gain trust in librarians and libraries and this trust would enable them to learn a foundation of library skills that would be with through college and beyond. Establishing Trust Now = Established Library User Libraries & Technology Conference Page 4 of 10 March 19, 2009
Speaking Points Benefits of Embedded Librarianship for… Students It appears that when there is an Embedded Librarian, students are more apt to reach out for research help: I‟ve always added my contact information to PPTs and worksheets used in information literacy instruction sessions. Yet rarely would I hear from students… In one year for example – August 2006 to July 2007, 24 students o contacted me for research help. During my first semester of being embedded in Fall 2007, 61 o students contacted me. In spring 2008 I heard from 74 students asking for research help. o After each speech, Joseph Van Oss gives his students a self- o reflection questionnaire. When I was embedded, he added the following question: “Did you work with Galadriel Chilton (or any other library staff on your research for this speech? If so, please describe how you worked with her and what help you received from her. Do you have any suggestions or comments about improving the research process?” In Fall 2007, 83 Responded: o 28 said yes. “I used all of the sites she suggested, it helped a lot!” “Yes, she sent me some websites I would be able to use for my speech, she was very helpful. I even asked her for sites for my friend and she was again very helpful.” “She helped me with different keywords to help find sources.” “The help she gave on the research day was extremely valuable.” “She sent some valuable sources.” “She helped me to figure out keywords I should use for online research.” “Yes, I made an appt. w/ her and she helped me find lots of good info on EBSCOhost and other Internet sources.” 41 said no w/o further explanation. 7 said no because they used they referred back to what they learned in the library instruction session and the class worksheet and PPT and didn‟t need further help. 5 said no, but said that they were familiar with using library databases due to instruction received in high school. Libraries & Technology Conference Page 5 of 10 March 19, 2009
Speaking Points 9 said no, but that they should have and that they planned to do so for the next speech. Me Very positive collaboration with professor Increased interaction w/ students Endorsement by professor helps establish student trust in the reality that librarians can help them (word-of-mouth marketing) Greater understanding of students‟ assignments and abilities, professor‟s expectations Greater insight into students‟ perceptions of library resources (i.e. “sites” “EBSCOhost” rather than name of databases, etc.) Serendipitous discoveries through conversation with professor led to improvements in instruction session contents: Need for students to have visuals as part of their presentations How two speeches related to one another Students‟ lack of knowing/understanding “what is an article database?” (use of title lists and vehicle make/model analogy) Flexibility to follow-up on instruction session instead of rushing and trying to cram everything into one 55 minute session. Take Out Box Handout Jing One-on-One Interactions Concrete information about what students know after library instruction session: quiz data! The Spring 2008 midterm for the three classes I am currently working with included four questions specifically about library resources and information literacy, these questions drew directly from the content covered during the class‟ information literacy instruction sessions. Students‟ responses are very insightful to their knowledge and provide info for me to think about how to improve/refocus instruction sessions and to illuminate discussion points for professor and I to talk about what is important to both of in terms of information literacy. Gaining concrete user experience knowledge that informs practice of o librarianship (e.g. E-resource management, etc.). Gaining overall knowledge of where information literacy skills are o really lacking. (e.g. I had been beginning information literacy sessions Libraries & Technology Conference Page 6 of 10 March 19, 2009
Speaking Points by giving students time to brainstorm about their topics; however, I believe that this is not enough. In recent conversations with Van Oss, we‟ve come to the conclusion that students need far more help refining and defining their topic first. Professor Direct library referral for students instead of “go talk to a librarian” Direct connection with a librarian who can provide feedback on what students are seeking help with research and tip-offs for students needing extra assistance Comments on the benefits: “Students are significantly more likely to ask for guidance or assistance. They are also more likely to use library resources instead of relying on unvetted, free resources.” “…I believe that students see CST 110 more positively and as more valuable when there is an EL. I do believe that EL is part of the reason SEI scores (student evaluations) jumped up last semester.” EL expands info-lit component of my course: “A few years ago, information literacy was a matter of making an appointment for 55 minutes of dreadful material that was not knit into the fabric of the course at all. Now our EL is so tightly integrated into the course that I see signs of something new: Information literacy is part of CST 110 almost from beginning to end.” Comments on Challenges: “I can't really say that there is any downside at all. For the instructor, there is a little bit of extra time spent on communicating with the EL, but that's a small investment that pays enormous dividends.” “For example: When our EL sends a student an email, I am copied. It takes a little time to go over each of those messages and sometimes I'll follow up with the student individually. That level of attention and personalized coaching is highly valued by students and practical only when sustained over the semester in an EL relationship.” Differences in Speeches for Students w/ or w/o EL? “EL seems to bring the greatest benefit to middle achievers. In this segment I definitely see more consistent, thoughtful use of higher-quality resources.” “For extreme high and low achievers, EL makes a little less of a dent. The high achiever may perceive that she/he does not need research help, and the low achiever sometimes fears asking anyone at all for help lest his/her deficit or delay come under glare.” “However, even in these groups, we've seen that EL does serve some students far better than an ordinary Libraries & Technology Conference Page 7 of 10 March 19, 2009
Speaking Points instructor/course/librarian relationship. Some high achievers do ask for help, and students who need research help in a remedial manner are much more likely to ask for it. Several times I've told a procrastinator to quot;run, don't walkquot; over to Murphy [Library], and the EL relationship has made it far easier to get those people back on track. Other Thoughts on EL? “Ego has never been an issue in the relationship with my EL colleague. But there are some egos on campus and I can imagine that an instructor's ego could easily strain an EL relationship.” “In the second semester of EL, we dramatically increased the level of integration of EL into the course. We both saw that this made sense. To any other instructor contemplating taking on an EL, I would recommend this: Regard your EL, and present your EL to your students, as a co-instructor.” “I do think EL demands a librarian who thinks like a teacher and is dedicated like a teacher. Under EL the student/librarian relationship is a real pedagogy that deserves to be taken seriously.” What Jen Thinks o Here‟s what Jen says about her embedding experience… Challenges Helping students help themselves vs. spoon feeding o Mitigating (use technology): Jing for short hot topic segments Take out box handout Instruction session worksheet where students work through exercises and make discovers Forwarding static links to search results and/or search strategies rather than just sending articles Time o Mitigating: Scheduling office hours Working with professor to refer students during office hours and already scheduled reference time Answering all e-mails at once rather than upon arrival; answering e-mails while at the reference desk Recycling/reworking replies for similar topics Referral to other librarians (e.g. government docs librarian) However, embedded librarianship does take time, more time than a one-time classroom presentation on how to use the library. But for me, being embedded is by far a higher quality approach to information literacy instruction and it gets to the Libraries & Technology Conference Page 8 of 10 March 19, 2009
Speaking Points heart of what I believe is important for librarians in this Google age: understanding users, analyzing their needs and skills, and then providing very personal guidance to them. My Toolbox o Course Management System (D2L) o Remaining visible, posting quick tips, follow-ups o E-mail o Primary means of interacting w/ students o YouTube o Where is your embedded librarian? o Meebo o Point-of-Need contact via Database pages o Jing o Short how to clips (i.e. finding a book in the library catalog) o Facebook o Understanding students‟ world (tagging photos, like article „tags‟ subjects in databases o Alternate communication point o LibData o Customized course pages with integrated learning objects. Attendee Thoughts & Questions? Bibliography Bell, S. J. & Shank, J. (2004). The blended librarian: a blueprint for redefining the teaching and learning role of academic librarians. College & Resource Library News, 65(7), 372-375. Cmor, D. & Marshall, V. (2006). Librarian class attendance: methods, outcomes and opportunities. IATUL Annual Conference Proceedings, 16, 56-61. Consumer trust: Word of mouth rules. (2007, November). Brand Strategy, 40-41. Retrieved March 10, 2008, from ABI/INFORM Global database. Corson, A., Hurdis, S., Miske, T., Putnam, S., & Woida, E. (2007). Coffee Shop Conundrum. Unpublished manuscript. University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, La Crosse, WI. Curszon-Hobson, A. (2002). A pedagogy of trust in higher learning. Teaching in Higher Education, 7(3), 265-276. Dewey, B.I. (2004). The embedded librarian: strategic campus collaborations. Resource Sharing & Information Networks, 17(1/2), 5-17. Hall, R.A. (2007). The “embedded” librarian in a freshman speech class: information literacy instruction in action. College & Research Libraries News, 69(1), 28-30. Hearn, M. R. (2005). Embedding a librarian in the classroom: an intensive information literacy model. Reference Services Review, 33(2), 219-227. Libraries & Technology Conference Page 9 of 10 March 19, 2009
Hoover, E., & Supiano, B. (2008, January 24). Surveys of students' views complicate spin on 'helicopter parents.' The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved February 19, 2008, from http://chronicle.com/daily/2008/01/1355n.htm. Leo, J. (2003, November 3). The good-news generation. U.S. News & World Report, 135(15), 60. Retrieved December 17, 2007, from Academic Search Premier database. Marshall, A., Burns, V., & Briden, J. Know your students. Library Journal, 132(18), 26-29. Matthew, V. & Schroeder, A. (2006). The embedded librarian program: Faculty and librarians partner to embed personalized library assistance into online courses. EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 29(4), 61- 65. Retrieved March 1, 2008 from http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eqm06410.pdf. Rainey, A. (2006, April 14). Survey provides further evidence of high parental involvement with college students. Chronicle of Higher Education, 52(32), A39. Retrieved December 17, 2007, from http://chronicle.com/weekly/v52/i32/32a03903.htm. Ramsay, K. M. & Kinnie, J. (2006). The embedded librarian. Library Journal, 131(6), 34-35. Shumaker, D. & Tyler, L. A. (2007, June). Embedded Library Services: An Initial Inquiry into Practices for Their Development, Management, and Delivery. Presented at the Special Libraries Association Annual Conference. Denver, Colorado. Retrieved March 10, 2008 from http://www.sla.org/pdfs/sla2007/ShumakerEmbeddedLibSvcs.pdf. Stewart, V. D. (2007). Embedded in the Blackboard jungle: The embedded librarian program at Pulaski Technical College. Arkansas Libraries, 64(3), 29-32. Whitmire, E. (2001). The relationship between undergraduates‟ background characteristics and college experiences and their academic library use. College & Research Libraries, 62(6), 528- 540. Retrieved February 28, 2008 from http://www.ala.org/ala/acrl/acrlpubs/crljournal/backissues2001b/november01/whitmire.pd f Libraries & Technology Conference Page 10 of 10 March 19, 2009
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