Friday, December 06, 2013

Article Note: On Measuring Library Value to Campus Culture of Learning

Citation for the article:

Hufford, Jon R., "Can the Library Contribute Value to the Campus Culture of Learning?"  The Journal of Academic Librarianship 39 (2013): 288-296.

Read via ScienceDirect.

This short article does pack quite a bit of information. The author argues that it is possible to assess the influence of a particular campus institution, including the library, on the culture of learning (288). The article then goes on to provide some ways in which to do just that. Given my director's strong interest in assessment (not to mention the director being a self-admitted "data junkie"), this is the kind of information I need to work on. In addition, some of the questions the author suggests we should be asking would provide answers that can be helpful for our instruction program as well. The article describes the problem, provides some guidance questions, and then goes over some solutions. I did mark some articles cited in the literature review to read and review down the road. In the end, the author implies or suggests the answer to the title question is yes, but it does fall on each of us to measure and find those answers. Yes, there is some work involved.

Notes to remember:

  • "The purpose of an undergraduate college education should not be restricted to a specific field of study but instead should focus on developing the student as a self-motivated learner" (291). This topic was actually in the conversations I had when I was interviewing for my current position here, and it something we strive for in our library instruction program as well as the college. As we planned instruction, one of the question we ask is how will they use what they learn when they leave the college. 
  • Some attributes of self-motivated learning: ". . . a broad knowledge of the wider world in all its complexities; knowledge of science, cultures, and society; and the study of global interdependence." Also included on the list: written and oral communication skills, information and computer literacy skills (some would say this is part of multiple literacies), ability to solve complex problems, sense of personal and social responsibility, and applying knowledge to real world problems (291).
  • Some of the questions for outlining library role in campus culture (see pg. 292): 
    • "What kinds of engaged learning experiences (e.g., service learning, learning communities, undergraduate research, collaborative assignments and projects, community-based learning, internships, writing intensive courses) requiring use of library resources and services are offered on campus?" I can tell you off the top of my head we do have quite a few of those examples here. Now, we do need to market ourselves better and do a better job of letting faculty know exactly what it is we offer and what we can do for their classes and students at different levels and beyond one-shots and even some repeat sessions. Consulting should be our next frontier, so to speak. 
    • "What percent of each freshman class has successfully completed courses requiring significant research using library resources and services for writing and/or critical thinking?" I certainly would love to seek out the answer to this one, even if it means doing a case study as the author suggests when there is a lack of standard methods of measurement. 
  • Author realizes very few libraries would be able to collect data on all the questions he suggests. He argues that we should attempt to get as much information as possible in a regular and consistent way, which can then be placed in a database for further analysis (293). Locally, I am hoping the HEDS survey we are running would help with some of this. 

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