Category Archives: Higher Education

Increase Your Commitment to Students; Seek a FIPSE Grant

The United States Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education recently announced a new Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) competition First in the World (FITW). The program will provide multi-year grants to institutions of higher education to spur the development of innovations that improve educational outcomes, make college more affordable for students and families, and develop an evidence base of effective practices. The grant announcement explains that innovations can take many forms, such as those that improve teaching and learning by redesigning courses and student supports or by leveraging technological developments.

The FITW competition aims to increase postsecondary access, affordability and completion for underrepresented, underprepared or low-income students at institutions across the country. Applications are due June 30, and FIPSE is holding pre-application webinars May 28 and June 4 from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. EDT. See the First in the World website and the official Federal Register Notice for more details.

While ACRL is not eligible to apply, academic librarians could work with their own institutions and consortia to seek FITW funding. With $75 million dollars available, this could be a powerful mechanism for you to implement innovative strategies and effective practices which improve student outcomes. Use FITW as a catalyst to transform student learning, pedagogy, and instructional practices through creative and innovative collaborations on your campus. Leverage this as an opportunity to demonstrate alignment with and impact on institutional outcomes.

Think of ACRL when you develop your proposal. We can serve as a contractor to support your project in the following ways:

You may think of other ways ACRL could support you through our existing programs and services. Or perhaps you would benefit from having ACRL involved in a new way, as a full partner to offer more substantial support. To pursue any of these options as you develop your FITW proposals, be in touch with Kara Malenfant, ACRL’s senior strategist for special initiatives at or 800-545-2433 ext 2510.

ACRL Comments on AAUP report Academic Freedom and Electronic Communications

On Friday, January 10, ACRL submitted comments to the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) on its updated draft report Academic Freedom and Electronic Communications.

ACRL suggested that the draft report can be strengthened in two important areas: by addressing author options to retain their rights under copyright when publishing and the importance of fair use in the full exercise of academic freedom. In the comments, ACRL encouraged AAUP to expand its statements on freedom of research and publication to more fully address these important copyright issues for the academic community and their faculty members.

Finally, ACRL applauded AAUP for bringing attention to the issue of user privacy and confidentiality for use of library materials, particularly digital content licensed from vendors.

ACRL Offering Webcast on MOOCs

Join us for the ACRL e-Learning webcast, “Goodbye Cybrarians, Hello Moocbrarians: Envisioning the Role of Librarians in Massive Online Open Courses,” to be offered Wednesday, May 22 (1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Central).

Technology is enabling higher education to change more in the next ten years than it has in the past hundred. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are potentially one such technological innovation and have generated a lot of press in the past year. This live, interactive webcast will focus on the role of the librarian in these online courses. Examine what librarians are currently doing to provide support for these institutional course offerings and discuss possible future roles that librarians can play as MOOCs move from the margins to the mainstream.

Complete details including the full webcast description, learning outcomes, and registration materials are available online.  Contact Margot Conahan at or call (312) 280-2522 with questions.

Libraries Can Increase Minority Student Engagement in Science and Technology

From the ALA Washington Office District Dispatch Blog:

Libraries are logical, obvious partners & collaborators for increasing minority student engagement in science and technology

Last Friday, I participated in a policy roundtable on “Leveraging Community Colleges for Minority Student STEM Engagement” organized by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and hosted at Microsoft’s Policy Office in Washington, D.C. This roundtable meeting launched a Joint Center initiative on a topic in which libraries of all types are becoming increasingly involved. A broad range of stakeholders was represented at the roundtable, from the National Alliance of Black School Educators, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, to Verizon, TechNet, and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

For many years, national policy makers have lamented the low number of students who focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields–and the consequent risk to our economic and technological competitiveness. Minority students, in particular, are underrepresented in STEM fields.

White House advisor Thomas Kalil discussed how the Obama Administration has placed a major focus of its educational initiatives on community colleges, as evidenced through the Advanced Graduation Initiative and the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges. In addition, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and federal officials from several other agencies explained the urgent national need to increase the number of students in STEM fields.

As we know, the nation is evolving towards a workforce with an increasing percentage of higher-skill jobs, especially those based on STEM fields. But we’re not only talking about scientists, engineers, and information technologists. Many jobs–including those in the service sector–now require some level of technological understanding and ability. So we are talking about increasing the number of STEM graduates, as well as students who undertake an increased level of STEM course work but who do not major in these fields.

While we need greater STEM engagement for all U.S. students, minority students need accelerated engagement because of their much lower participation in STEM majors and courses. And community colleges represent an important link in the educational chain: approximately 60% of Black, Hispanic, and Native American graduates with STEM degrees attended community colleges at some point during their education.

My invitation was an acknowledgment that libraries are key resources in community colleges. I pointed out that libraries exist in pretty much every community college (a fantastic advantage when scaling programs or initiatives across many community colleges), and that they can contribute in myriad ways through collecting specialized career resources, facilitating study groups, and so on–both in the physical library and virtually. Libraries are logical and obvious partners and collaborators.

As this initiative progresses in 2012, I’ll issue updates as warranted, and engage relevant ALA entities as appropriate. I also welcome feedback and examples from libraries — particularly community college libraries — about how you are engaging with STEM curricula.

Alan S. Inouye, Ph.D.
Director, Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP)

ACRL Article in Newsletter of New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability

The Association of College Research Libraries was invited by the New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability to author an article for their December e-newsletter. The article “Exploring the Contributions of the Academic Library to Student Learning” — written by Joyce L. Ogburn, president of ACRL, dean, J. Willard Marriott Library and university librarian, University of Utah and Kara J. Malenfant, ACRL’s  scholarly communications and government relations specialist — highlights ACRL’s initiatives in this area.

The New Leadership Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability, an advocacy-focused organization, leads and supports voluntary and cooperative efforts to move the higher education community towards gathering, reporting on, and using evidence to improve student learning in American undergraduate education. Nearly 100 colleges and universities of all types are members.

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