Member of the Week: Andrea Baer

Andrea BaerAndrea Baer is an instructional services librarian at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, GA. She is also part of the presenter team for ACRL’s new licensed workshop Engaging with the ACRL Framework: A Catalyst for Exploring and Expanding Our Teaching Practices. Andrea first joined ACRL in 2010 and is your ACRL member of the week for June 26, 2017.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Reflective, curious, aspirational.

2. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? In my professional work I have been reading a lot about discussion-based pedagogies, in particular as they relate to engaging with politically and emotionally charged topics. Some of this work looks at the emotional dimensions of learning, as well as at the challenges and potential limitations of classroom dialogue. Such writing is especially relevant to a credit-bearing information literacy course I teach on news literacy. Some of the works I am finding particularly useful are Megan Boler’s Democratic Dialogue in Education and her Feeling Power and Diana Hess and Paula McAvoy’s The Political Classroom.

For fun I’ve been reading Lydia Davis’s amazing short short stories in Break It Down. I’m also a big fan of podcasts like Invisibilia and Radio Lab, and am addicted to the Netflix show Grace and Frankie.

3. Describe ACRL in three words: Connecting, forward-looking, multi-faceted.

4. What do you value about ACRL? I most value how ACRL helps to connect academic library professionals who work in a wide range of contexts. The conversations and collaborations that ACRL helps make possible help us explore both the possibilities and the realities of our individual and shared professional practices. Because most of my library work focuses on teaching and learning, I especially appreciate that ACRL has served as a catalyst for discussions about our evolving roles as educators and as teaching partners.

5. What do you as an academic librarian contribute to your campus? In 2016 I joined the University of West Georgia (UWG) as an instructional services librarian. My main responsibilities at UWG are teaching a credit-bearing information literacy course; liaising to the English and first year writing programs; developing cross-disciplinary instructional materials; and supporting student learning through a range of initiatives (for example, faculty workshops and most recently a faculty learning community on news literacy).

I think one unique thing that I bring to my work at and beyond UWG is an interdisciplinary perspective that I developed in part through previous graduate teaching and research in comparative literature and cultural studies. That earlier experience, in combination with my continued teaching and research, has had a big influence on how I approach information literacy instruction as contextual and as a process of open inquiry and exploration. Having worked at both research-intensive and teaching-centered institutions, I also strive to bring a sensitivity to local contexts to my work. I see this as vital to approaching information literacy as a shared responsibility of all educators. I believe my various learning and work experiences have also helped me to develop ways of talking about and exploring information literacy’s relevance with educators across disciplines.

6. In your own words: As an instruction librarian, I believe this is an especially important and exciting time for librarians engaged in information literacy education. The complexity and the relevance of information literacy is so apparent in this current moment of political polarization, as every day we encounter conflicting information sources and highly charged public and political discourse. In this climate it is easy to either disengage entirely from what’s happening in the world or to choose just to believe whatever one wants to believe, rather than critically examine evidence and argument and seek out varying perspectives. This moment has presented a very real context for exploring information literacy as something meaningful and inextricable from people’s everyday lives and from our sociopolitical conditions and environments.

Many educators outside librarianship share this concern and seem to be recognizing on a deeper level the importance of information literacy. Such appreciation of information literacy’s complexity and relevance is occurring at the same time that librarians’ instructional work has been shifting toward teaching about broader conceptual understandings like “Research as Inquiry;” engaging with the sociopolitical, historical, and ethical dimensions of information production and use; and approaching information literacy as a shared responsibility of all educators. We are experiencing a lot of change, which can feel at times overwhelming, but which also opens room for a great deal of creativity and possibility for how we support student learning.


Editor’s Note: Are you an ACRL member? Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at mpetrowski@ala.org for more information.

Campus Compact Fund for Positive Engagement Mini Grants for Academic Institutions, Due July 14

Over the past two years, longstanding political and social rifts in the United States have become deeper and more overtly hostile, embittering our already polarized public life. Various groups and individuals on our campuses and in our communities have experienced identity-based threats and marginalization that have led to heightened levels of fear and anxiety within campus communities. Students whose political views differ from the majority of their peers have come to fear social ostracism. The intensification of these phenomena harms students, interferes with the achievement of higher education’s mission, and threatens the health of our democracy.

Faculty, administrators, students, and their partners are working to address a variety of challenges: balancing the right to free speech with the need to cultivate learning environments in which all students can be successful, supporting students whose safety and well being are threatened by public policy or rhetoric, responding to attacks on academic freedom, and cultivating spaces in which all students can constructively build relationships and exchange ideas with one another across differences of all kinds–including ideological differences.

The purpose of the Campus Compact Fund for Positive Engagement is to catalyze experimental responses to challenges arising from this new climate. Up to 40 grants of $5000 per institution will be awarded through a national competition.

Read more about this opportunity and apply online.

Member of the Week: Robert P. Holley

Robert P. HolleyRobert P. Holley is a professor emeritus at Wayne State University in Huntington Woods, MI. Robert has been a member of ACRL since 1974 and is your ACRL member of the week for June 19, 2017.

1. Describe yourself in three words: Intellectual, curious, eclectic.

2. What are you reading (or listening to on your mobile device)? Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Laclos to maintain my fluency in French.

3. Describe ACRL in three words: Innovative, focused, valuable.

4. What do you value about ACRL? The national conferences. I’ve attended all but two since they began in Boston in 1979. Beyond the practical sessions on library issues, I remember the amazing keynote speakers. My favorite choice for its audacity and support for intellectual freedom was John Waters at the 2007 Baltimore conference. This unconventional media star shocked some in the audience but exemplified for me the counter culture aspects of many librarians.

5. What have you as an academic librarian contributed to your campus? Until my retirement in 2015, I worked as a librarian and library educator in three large research universities. One of my goals was to undermine the negative stereotypes about librarians by being active in the intellectual, political, and social life of the university. Having this dual career, I also worked to bridge the divide between librarians and faculty by sharing my perspectives on how the two groups sometimes misunderstood each other.

6. In your own words: The best thing that ever happened to me was not getting a faculty appointment in 1971, the first year of the PhD glut. I became a library assistant in the Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University, and six months later started commuting to Columbia University to get my library science degree. I’ve been extremely happy as a librarian, teacher, and researcher. I have wide ranging interests and delight in synthesizing information from multiple sources, two traits librarianship values. I’m pleased that I ended my career with broad experience both as a librarian and an educator.


Editor’s Note: Are you an ACRL member? Would you like to be featured as ACRL Member of the Week? Nominate a colleague? Contact Mary Jane Petrowski at mpetrowski@ala.org for more information.

ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Toolkit Launches

Framework for Informaiton Literacy coverThe ACRL Framework Advisory Board (FAB) is pleased to announce the launch of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Toolkit. The ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Toolkit is intended as a freely available professional development resource that can be used and adapted by both individuals and groups in order to foster understanding and use of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. The ACRL Framework Toolkit is available on the ACRL LibGuides site.

Librarians can use the ACRL Framework Toolkit resources in a variety of ways:  for their individual professional development needs; to form a community of practice with their colleagues around the Framework and information literacy; and to develop workshops and professional development opportunities in their libraries and also for local, regional, and state-level events and conferences.

The ACRL Framework Toolkit contains four modules: Finding Time to Engage the Framework, The Framework’s Structure, Foundations of the Framework, and Strategies for Using the Framework. A fifth module, Collaboration and Conversations with the Framework, is currently in development.  Each module includes essential questions, learning outcomes, and active learning resources such as guided reading activities, discussion prompts, and lists of key readings.

Please direct any questions to FAB Chair Donna Witek at donna.witek@scranton.edu.

Keeping Up With… Statistical Literacy

The latest edition of Keeping Up With…, ACRL’s online current awareness publication featuring concise briefs on trends in academic librarianship and higher education, is now available. This month’s issue features a discussion of Statistical Literacy by Lindsay Davis and Lynda Kellam.

ACRL is currently accepting topic suggestions for future editions of Keeping Up With… . Visit the Keeping Up With…website for more information or contact David Free at dfree@ala.org with questions or to submit topics.

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