The Library has made a number of improvements to its instruction program in the past decade. In late 2002, the Library committed significant resources toward the strengthening and unification of its various instruction programs through the creation of an instruction coordinator full-time faculty position, which was filled in November 2002 through a national search. Similarly, in May 2004 the Library filled its vacant position for an instructional technology librarian, and created and filled a new position for an Associate Dean for Reference and Instruction, again with the intent to further strengthen the Library's instruction efforts. Other major initiatives include the following:
- Creation and Evolution of the Instruction Commons, 1999-present.
In 1999, the Library received grant funds from the Carver Charitable Trust for a four-year grant project known as the Undergraduate Commons. The Commons began as an online website effort to integrate electronic resources and library research instruction into ISU classes. Librarians and course instructors across campus collaborated on pulling together relevant resources, online instructional materials, and even class assignments. After the grant project period ended, the renamed Instruction Commons emerged as an online information literacy program, whose scope was expanded to include all levels of the ISU curricula, including undergraduate, graduate, and special classes with a library research instruction component.
- Library Instruction Review, 2002.
The Library created a self-study group to review the Library's various instruction projects and direction. Major outcomes of this review included the recommendation to create a new position for an instruction coordinator, and to continue the Commons program beyond the four-year grant period.
- Review and redesign of Library 160, 2002-present.
- Creation of Library Seminars & Workshops Program, 2003-ongoing.
Librarians present seminars and workshops of campus-wide interest, including an annual Library open house event; orientation programs for graduate students; seminars on Finding Patent Information; Westlaw; Web of Knowledge; SCIRUS; and Google Scholar. Librarians also participate in Center for Excellence in Learning & Teaching seminars as presenters on topics such as Virtual Libraries; Going Beyond Google; Plagiarism; and Electronic Literacy.
The learning environment
Physical Instructional spaces: Instructional spaces within Parks Library include a User Education Lab with an instructor workstation and 20 student workstations, a Library 160 Lab with an instructor workstation and 17 student workstations, a recently remodeled lecture-format classroom that can accommodate approximately 70 students, and a recently remodeled seminar room that can accommodate an audience of approximately 45.
Virtual Learning spaces: These include the Library's Instruction Commons, and WebCT as used for the Library 160 course (both described above).
Relationships with CELT, ITS. A number of faculty librarians work closely with the Center for Excellence in Learning & Teaching, as campus-wide seminar presenters, committee members, and for continuing education opportunities. The instruction coordinator was also selected to participate in the CELT's annual Wakonse college teaching retreat, a week-long retreat that recognizes and promotes excellence in college teaching.
Participation in LCs, ISUComm. A number of faculty librarians have worked closely with Learning Communities at the course level, working with instructors on assignments and working with students; serving on LC committees, and collaborating with the ISUComm development team, particularly in the development and piloting of the ISUComm 150 and 250 courses in the English department. Library faculty have also made extensive use of the Instruction Commons for placing Learning Community and ISUComm materials up on the web.
Issues facing the instruction program in the near future.
Workload and scalability are the major issues faced by the Library's instruction program in all of its various components. Involvement in the Library's instruction efforts is largely seen as a "volunteer" and case-by-case operation.
- Library 160 requires the ongoing involvement of at least 10 instructors. Instructional materials continue to demand attention and revision, as the content being taught is extremely dynamic. Faculty librarians "volunteer" to participate in Library 160, but without release time from other professional responsibilities. Similarly, the instruction coordinator does not have release time from other professional responsibilities in order to concentrate on teaching, assessment, and course development, or other instructional responsibilities. Library 160 also relies on the significant contributions of two graduate student TAs, and the ability to mentor, train, and pay them competitive stipends.
- The Instruction Commons requires web server space and maintenance by the Library's small IT department, and trained staff to create, update and maintain the website content. Much of this latter work is done by two graduate student TAs already involved in Library 160, the instruction coordinator, and most recently, a Merit staff member. Library efforts to consolidate some aspects of the Library's Reserve web pages with the Commons (through the creation of an A-Z listing of courses with materials on the Library website in either of these locations) has resulted in some faculty confusion and quite negative feedback from patrons.
- Course-related instruction sessions require individual librarians collaborating with interested faculty across campus. While librarian involvement in such sessions is not a difficulty, the challenge will be to incorporate formal assessment into these sessions that is focused on student learning outcomes, and reported out such that instruction outcomes assessment can be measured for all such course-related sessions.
- Library Seminars & workshops require the ongoing involvement of interested faculty librarians in the planning and delivery of such events. Such programs require the development of intellectual content; facilities planning; publicity, and coordination.
The Library will need very soon to commit time and effort in analyzing these workload issues and organizational expectations in order to ensure the continued growth and success of its instruction program. Reorganizing library staff to support various aspects of the instruction program could provide needed staffing. Further, rearticulating organizational expectations could clarify, first, that regular participation in instruction program activities is a required component of many faculty librarian positions, rather than a voluntary aspect, and, second, that workloads of faculty librarians who are heavily involved in instruction program activities need attention to prevent burnout and unrealistic organizational expectations.