We asked participants in ACRL’s Assessment in Action (AiA) to share a few thoughts on their experience. Here is what Nancy Goebel from the University of Alberta Libraries had to say about her project: “Can the Personal Librarian program help make the University of Alberta Libraries more relevant and supportive for students in specific populations?”

Augustana Campus Faculty Portraits

Augustana Campus Faculty – Nancy Goebel

Abstract: The Personal Librarian for Aboriginal Students (PLAS) program aimed to deepen Aboriginal (native) students’ engagement with library services, collections and services. In the PLAS program, incoming Aboriginal students were partnered with a “Personal Librarian”.

Most weeks in the academic/project year students were emailed a short hint on how to do research and, always, an encouragement to contact their Personal Librarian. Participating students and Personal Librarians were surveyed at the end of the academic/project year.

  1. What was your greatest challenge during the course of your Assessment in Action project?  AiA was the biggest project, by far, that I have been involved in which included partners exclusively outside of the library and across multiple campuses.  I think that both of these factors will influence how I think about most of my work for the rest of my career.  I will more naturally consider how the project might be strengthened with non-library partners and considering the needs of multiple campuses adds complexity but is true to the full needs of the campuses’ users and that consideration is essential.
  2. What is your #1 recommendation for other librarians who want to conduct an assessment project on student learning and success?  I am a big advocate for pilot programs.  Not to say that everything can or should be spontaneous or not fully-planned but rather create opportunities for good ideas to have a chance to flourish.  To be efficient and effective with resources we must not be wasteful so good planning and creative thinking are core components in pilots too.
  3. What is the #1 thing you gained through your participation in Assessment in Action? AiA was not my first consideration of the importance of assessment in my career. However, it made a lasting impact in terms of the consideration of assessment now being front and center with all work that I do.  I think it is important to have evidence to support the work we do and also use evidence to inform what might be the best route to take even if it is not the preferred route by whatever constituent.

Thank you very much Nancy for the excellent post and congratulations on completing AiA!


This blog post is one in a series of posts discussing the library value work being done by the ACRL Liaisons to non-library higher education organizations. The following post from Lis Cabot who writes about her liaison work with the Council of Independent Colleges.

The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) is an association of nonprofit independent colleges and universities that works to advance institutional quality and increase awareness of the contributions of small and mid-size private institutions to society.  ACRL has co-sponsored many initiatives with the CIC. The Council was a co-sponsor of ACRL’s IMLS grant in support of the Value of Academic Libraries initiative. CIC also offers scholarships for college library directors to attend the ALA Annual Conference.    As the ACRL Liaison to CIC, I attend an annual Chief Academic Officers Institute where I offer programming that highlights the contributions of academic libraries to institutional effectiveness. Recent institutes have included Chief Student Affairs Officers and Chief Financial Affairs Officers. I shared examples of CIC member libraries collaborative campus projects with the Chief Student Affairs Officers. As a major employer of student workers, academic libraries contribute to student retention and recruitment. Several libraries develop residence hall programming and cultural activities. I find these administrators to be very interested in evolving library services, resources, and physical spaces.

Academic officers tend to be natural supporters of libraries and look to librarians for evidence of our contributions to teaching and learning success, as well as to institutional mission.   They are keenly interested in collaborative initiatives whereby academic libraries partner with other campus units.   Deans and provosts frequently cite budget challenges and applaud our efforts in the areas of resource sharing and consortia initiatives.   CIC goals align nicely with ACRL’s Strategic Goals in the Plan for Excellence. CIC is interested in making the case for independent higher education and fostering institutional effectiveness. Academic libraries work to demonstrate alignment with institutional outcomes.   CIC also focuses on forming collaborations to create and strengthen institutional programs. ACRL and academic libraries seek to leverage partnerships in support of mutual goals. CIC assists institutions in improving their educational offerings, administrative and financial performance, and visibility. This focus aligns nicely with ACRL’s goal of accelerating the transition to a more open system of scholarship and promotion of new structures that reward and value open scholarship.

CIC has also offered an annual workshop on Information Fluency in the Disciplines. Teams of faculty, librarians, and academic administrators from CIC schools are selected to participate in the workshops. During the workshop, the institutional teams focus on the development of local initiatives that introduce and reinforce information fluency skills in academic programs and/or academic disciplines. I facilitate some of the working sessions at the workshop and work with individual teams. I enjoy working with the teams and field inquiries post-workshop from several participants. I highlighted ACRL’s work on revisions to the Information Literacy Standards for Higher Education at the workshops. I also co-presented on institutional approaches to “Developing Information Fluency Across the Four Years”. I highlight the collaborative approach we use at Ithaca College, engaging disciplinary faculty in the identification of core student learning outcomes linked to specific library resources and services. As a result of my participation the workshop, I have been invited to a CIC member campus to present on our approach and to work with a group of faculty and librarians.

I report on my CIC activities to the College Library Section’s Executive Committee at Midwinter and Annual Conferences.   I have also forwarded relevant information to ACRL’s Strategic Goal Committees.

The ACRL-CIC relationship continues to be an opportunity for collaboration and engagement.   Given that CIC member institutions are small to medium-sized colleges and universities, they naturally focus on creating a compelling undergraduate experience. CIC academic officers and faculty continue to welcome and support the contributions of their libraries.




Jamie Segno photoWe asked participants in ACRL’s Assessment in Action (AiA) to share a few thoughts on their experience. Here is what Jamie Segno from the Alvin Sherman Library, Research & Information Technology Center at Nova Southeastern University had to say about her project: “Library Boot Camp” Optional Research Workshops on Student Learning:

Abstract: Library Boot Camp is an optional research workshop offered six times per semester to help students improve their information literacy skills. By administering pre/post tests before and after each session, this project investigated the impact of Library Boot Camp on students’ ability to use library resources to effectively find needed information. Despite low attendance at the workshops, a preliminary comparison of the paired test results revealed nearly a 60 percent increase, suggesting the instruction was beneficial.

  1. What was your greatest challenge during the course of your Assessment in Action project?

At first, I felt overwhelmed.  However, I soon realized that I was not alone and did not have to reinvent the wheel.  I learned to reach out to our AiA facilitators, who possessed a wealth of knowledge, my cohort, who was a great source for ideas and encouragement, and my team, who could help accomplish tasks. In doing a literature review, I gained great insight on similar projects and even found instruments that we could use.  

  1. What is your #1 recommendation for other librarians who want to conduct an assessment project on student learning and success?

Before deciding on your project, I would recommend to have several conversations with staff in other offices at your institution (i.e. academic advisors, administrators, faculty, etc.) to see what data they would be interested in gathering.  This will not only help you identify where your goals align, but it could help you design a project that they would find very useful.  This may help generate buy-in for the project (and your library) and could even lead you to potential team members. 

  1. What is the #1 thing you gained through your participation in Assessment in Action?

I’ve gained a lot of things through AiA such as an expanded network of colleagues and stronger partnerships within my institution.  Most of all, I now feel confident with the assessment process. Even when things didn’t go as planned, I now have great ideas on what to do next time!

Thank you Jamie for the wonderful update!


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