Thursday, July 31, 2008

Booknote: The Teaching Library

The Teaching Library: Approaches to Assessing Information Literacy Instruction is a collection of essays on assessment of library instruction and information literacy programs. It is basically a collection of case studies, which have been published as well in the journal Public Services Quarterly. The main idea is to promote ways of building and making the case for the teaching library and to do so with solid assessment. According to the book's introduction, a teaching library is "characterized by its commitment to instruction as a core library service and by a robust instructional service program that reflects not only the teaching and learning that goes on in the classroom, but also that which goes on in the co-curriculum, the extra-curriculum, and the surrounding community" (2). That for me is an ideal definition of the type of place I would like to work in. It was something I strived for in my previous job, and it is something I think we should aspire where I work at now. In fact, I think given the growth that my current campus is undergoing, we just may be at a crossing where we could seize an opportunity to position the library as a teaching library. It is just a thought as I am not the instructional leader, and my ability to promote such a move is fairly low. But one can always dream. But I am digressing; let us get back to the book.

Assessment is basically the evidence, the ammunition you would use to make your case for the teaching library. As the editor of the book writes, "assessment is the tool by which the story of the teaching library is assembled and the process through which we demonstrate our direct contribution to student learning, faculty development, and the instructional mission of the college campus" (3). The book then goes on to present how other campuses have implemented assessment of their programs. Experienced instruction and information literacy librarians will likely recognize a lot of the material here. The literature reviews for each article pretty much go over similar terrain; certain names just keep coming up over and over. So the book is more of a review for the experienced. However, for readers still striving to learn about assessment, and for those interested in finding ways to build a teaching library and to better assess their programs, this book can serve as blueprint.

I did photocopy the essay Schroeder and Mashek. I particularly found interesting their school's mission statement, which clearly emphasizes the teaching role of the library in relation to the campus. The library's mission statement is then tied to their information literacy initiative and even to the mission of the library's reference service. This was the essay I found particularly useful. Most of the others ones you can scan and find what you need.

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