ALAO 2005 Session Overviews

Okay, I’m only two weeks late in getting this posted. I wanted to describe the sessions I attended at ALAO on November 4.

Library Instruction Venue: Classroom or Cyberspace?
This session was presented by Pat Antonelli (BGSU-Firelands) and Nashieli Marcano (now Univ. of Akron). Their presentation described their experience taking a classroom based 1 credit hour information literacy course and migrating it into a course on Blackboard. They did a nice job explaining the pros and cons of teaching face-to-face via a course management system. They use the text, The Research Project, by Dawn Rodriguez in the course.

A Natural Fit: Librarians and Learner-Centered Pedagogies
This session was sponsored by the Instruction Interest Group. The speakers were Pam Bach and Barb Macke from the Univ. of Cincinnati. I always enjoy hearing what UC is up too when it comes to information literacy because they have a strong focus on problem based learning. I have attended sessions at other conferences where Barb has discussed some of their activities.

They had this session be very interactive. They divided us up into groups and basically had us go through the first part of a problem based learning activity that they use when their English Comp classes come into the Library. They distributed a handout with pictures from British tabloids of Prince Harry dressed in the infamous Nazi costume. The idea is to engage students in critical thinking to identify what they already know, what more they need to know, and where they might go to find more information.

I always appreciate the hand-outs from this crew too. They had a single hand-out covering the key concepts of problem-based learning. They also brought a packet of different problems they have developed to be used in classes. I found this to be very useful for ideas that we could use here. Finally, they included a detailed bibliography on PBL.

Library Advocacy Panel
The session after lunch was a panel discussion of library advocacy. I was surprised to see so few people attend this session. There were maybe 12 people in the auditorium. The speakers were ACRL President Dr. Camila Alire, Susan Scott (Denison), Ann Watson (Denison), Glenda Thorton (Cleveland State), and Paul Burnham (Ohio Wesleyan). Each panel member spoke about library advocacy from a different perspective.

Dr. Alire spoke about the need for grassroots advocacy and how ACRL is developing more tools to help librarians prepare to be better advocates.

Glenda spoke about advocacy at the local campus level. She discussed a number of things that CSU is doing, including: the creation of a separate faculty newsletter and preparing customized reports for schools/colleges to show the value the library brings to their school/college. She recommended Judith A. Siess’s book, The visible librarian : asserting your value with marketing and advocacy, for more ideas.

Susan spoke about ALAO’s Government Relations Committee and the activities that this group does including the annual trip to ALA’s annual library advocacy day in Washington. She gave a very clear description of the value of both locally and nationally.

Ann spoke about ALAO’s Legislative Advocate Network and how to get more involved talking to Ohio House and Senate representatives. She gave some practical advice about the people to have available for when inviting politicians to campus. For example, their Representative is a Republican so they invited the Young Republican group at Denison to come and meet with him as well as a couple of prominent Republican faculty members.

Finally, Paul spoke about his experience going to Washington this past May. He was the recipient of the ALAO travel grant to go to Washington and lobby the Ohio delegation.

Of the four sessions, I found this one to be the best. It was very practical and I think all academic librarians have to become more aware of the need to advocate for the library. Advocacy doesn’t always mean that you will be asking for or getting money. The reality is though that we all need to be better proponents of our libraries and the value we offer our institutions.

Faculty and Librarian Collaboration for Enhancing Information Literacy Skills
This presentation was done by Cindy Mader and Michael Howser from Miami U. There presentation was informative because they described Miami’s learning community concept. Cindy and Michael are leading the information literacy learning community. They discussed how they got it started and what they have been talking discussing. They used Integrating Information Literacy into the Higher Education Curriculum by Irene Rockman last year as a starting point. This year they are reading and discussing Developing research and communication skills: Guidelines for Information Literacy in the Curriculum by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

They also had us do an activity during the session. They gave us some sample assignments and asked us how we could improve them to meet information literacy goals. This is an exercise they use with the faculty in the learning group to help them create better assignments. They wanted to show a video of one of the faculty in the learning community that they developed to recruit other faculty to join. Unfortunately, the acoustics were not good and the video could not be heard. They also provided a nice bibliography of resources on faculty and library cooperation.

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