Dropping Orientation for Ongoing Collaboration
Last week one of my fellow librarians forwarded to me an article entitled “Using Library Experts Wisely” by Rob Weir and appearing in Inside Higher Education. It wasn’t until this week that I got around to reading it, and I wish I had done so earlier.
Weir, a seasoned professor in higher education, chose to dump the one-shot library orientation session for one of his classes. In its place? An ongoing collaborative effort to make the librarian, Dave MacCourt, an integral part of the course. The article tells their story. What a great real-life example of how the knowledge of a classroom instructor coupled with the expertise of a librarian throughout the semester could improve our students’ learning experience.
Why don’t we do more of this? Two possible reasons come to mind:
- It’s easier to go with the status quo. For the professor, perhaps the current course outline is a well-honed product that has been used (effectively) for years. For the librarian, the orientation is possibly so well-rehearsed that it could be given at a moment’s notice with very little effort. To completely rethink the design of a course requires a significant amount of time and energy–particularly if moving to a collaborative approach. Let’s face it: The status quo requires less effort (where less effort = good).
- We’re afraid of how the other person will respond. What will the librarian think about the idea of dropping that library instruction session that we have been using for years in this class? How will that professor react to a suggestion that might significantly alter his or her course syllabus? The answer to both of these questions is: We really don’t know. One thing’s for sure: We won’t know unless we have the conversation. And I can’t help but believe that there are a lot of other librarians and professors out there like Rob and Dave (and me). If the suggestion of trying an ongoing, collaborative approach were made, we would sing, like Dave, “I’ve been waiting for years for someone to say that!”
Yes, it would require some work on our end, but think of the benefit to the student.
OK, confession time. I’ve thought of suggesting this semester-long collaborative idea with faculty at my institution more than once but never got beyond mental conceptualization–not really sure how they would respond. If there is anyone else who finds themselves floating in this boat with me, perhaps it’s time for us to just simply ask.
Librarians, professors, students…What about you? Have any of you been part of a class experience that involved exciting collaborative efforts between the instructor and a librarian? I would love to hear your story.