Submitted by Debbie Malone, VAL Committee member: 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. We welcome Moriana Garcia, Denison University Libraries, who is ACRL liaison to the Association for Information Science & Technology (ASIS&T).

I am the current ACRL-STS (Association of College and Research Libraries-Science and Technology Section) Liaison to ASIS&T (Association for Information Science & Technology), in the second year of my appointment. ASIS&T is an international organization for information professionals seeking to advance the information sciences and related applications. It was funded in 1937 and includes members from 50 different countries. This organization leads the search for theories and technologies to improve access to information by bringing together information science researchers and practitioners interested in solving common problems.

I have been a member of ASIS&T since 2008. I was first involved with my local chapter (Central Ohio-ASIS&T), and later moved to national appointments. I chaired the Special Interest Group – Scientific and Technical Information (SIG-STI) in 2012 and was elected Advisor to the ASIS&T SIG Cabinet Steering Committee –which coordinates all Special Interest Groups’ activities– in 2013. My leadership trajectory within ASIS&T has provided me with a strong platform from where to exercise my role as ACRL-STS Liaison to the organization.

In the last decade, ASIS&T has become the main venue for faculty and graduate students from Library and Information Science programs worldwide to discuss their research. Library and corporate practitioners, on the other hand, have become a minority. This shift in membership has made the ASIS&T meeting programs heavy on theoretical research but light on practical applications. However, the current ASIS&T leadership is truly invested in bringing back practitioners to the organization, as shown with the new conference focus on “Applied Research” added to the 2015 ASIS&T Meeting Program.

Becoming a Liaison to ASIS&T gave me an excellent opportunity to support the participation of academic librarians within the association. As part of my strategy, I organized a panel for the 2014 ASIS&T Annual Meeting (October 31-November 4, Seattle, WA) titled 3D Technologies: New Tools for Information Scientists to Engage, Educate and Empower Communities. This panel, sponsored by SIG-STI, included an array of public and academic librarians, information science researchers and museum practitioners, who discussed their experience working with three-dimensional (3D) technologies. Our main goal was to provide a broad understanding of the applications of 3D printing, scanning and design in libraries and museums, and how these technologies could be used to educate and empower local communities. By bringing together library practitioners and researchers, the panel modelled a truly effective partnership between both communities.

Another goal of the panel was to show examples of state-of-the-art services currently offered in libraries. By describing new academic collaborations among librarians, faculty, and students, achieved through the use of 3D technologies, the panel drew attention to our role in enhancing student learning. It also highlighted the transformative value that access to these innovative technologies brings to higher education. The panel was well received, gathering positive comments on the Twitter-verse. Most attendants assessed the panel as informative and relevant.

As an outcome of this panel, I am currently editing, in collaboration with Tod Colegrove (one of the panelists and ACRL-STS member), a special issue of the ASIS&T Bulletin dedicated to 3D technologies, to be published next Fall (2015). The Bulletin is a magazine directed to practitioners that shares news about the organization and topic-focused articles. With this special issue, we expect to support the scholarship efforts of our fellow panelists and other librarians/researchers working on the field.

In addition to being a panel moderator at the 2014 ASIS&T Meeting, I participated in the SIG Cabinet meeting, the SIG-STI Planning meeting and the ASIS&T Business meeting. Being an active member in the governance structure of ASIS&T keeps me abreast of the important challenges faced by our organization and the strategies implemented for their solution. It also allows me to remain visible and engaged with officers and administrators, expanding my professional network.

I also took part on a focus group organized by the ASIS&T Strategic Planning Team, one of the major initiatives of the new ASIS&T President-Elect. The focus group consisted of practitioners with 6 or more years of ASIS&T membership, who were invited to share their vision for the future of the association. The focus group was an ideal place to advocate for further engagement between theoreticians and librarians, and to argue that our experience working directly with users could and should inform research. Although the theoretical depth and intellectual richness of ASIS&T programs is what attracts many librarians to the organization, our participation in professional development events that do not generate an immediate outcome has become more difficult to justify lately. Supporting initiatives that foster collaboration among the different communities at ASIS&T is one of the strategies that might help with the retention of current practitioners, and the recruitment of new ones to the association.

Several programs presented at the 2014 ASIS&T Meeting captured my attention. The main keynote speaker was Kris Kutchera (Vice President of Information Technology and Strategy Management at Alaska Air Group). Her presentation focused on how innovation, which depends on sustained investment in people and technology, drives high performance results for companies. She described the difficulties of attracting talented information technology candidates, advocating for more STEM education initiatives at the Primary School level. The second keynote speaker was Alessandro Acquisti (Associate Professor of Information Technology and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University). His lecture addressed privacy in the age of augmented reality, describing how commercial companies influence our online decision making, and revealing deeper links between privacy and security. He gave some examples on how interested parties exploring “big data” practices can obtain inferable sensitive information from anonymous information on social networking sites.

Another series of papers during the ASIS&T 2014 Meeting explored the social role of documents, showing, for example, how printed encyclopedias were used in the past as tools for identity construction and the placement of external memories, and how those emotional components have changed with online versions like Wikipedia. Data preservation and management was also a popular topic during the meeting, with several programs focused on the subject. More information is available in the online Proceedings

My latest initiative as Liaison is to organize for the coming year a webinar on Electronic Lab Notebooks co-sponsored by ASIS&T SIG-STI and the ACRL-STS Hot Topics Discussion Group. The webinar will be presented by Kristin Bogdan, Science and Social Science Data Librarian at Yale University. It will use the ASIS&T Webinar platform, where it will remain archived and publicly available.

I am truly committed to my role as ACRL-STS Liaison to ASIS&T and to the promotion of library practitioners as valuable professionals in the information science arena. As a result of my efforts, I hope to see more programs targeted to librarians in future ASIS&T meetings, and to strengthen the connection between both organizations.

Moriana L. M. Garcia, Natural Sciences Liaison Librarian, Denison University Libraries.


The first participants in ACRL’s Assessment in Action program presented results from their projects at poster sessions at ALA Annual in Las Vegas, and their results are also being disseminated in library publications and conference presentations. We’ re thrilled to see more value-related research making its way into the world, and will be featuring synopses of projects and a brief Q&A with team leaders here at the Value blog over the next year. Soon you’ll also be able to read a full descriptive report for this and other AiA projects, along with a synthesis of all the first year AiA projects. Stay tuned for an announcement on the VAL blog.

Small Steps: Alternative Teaching Models & Student Information Literacy Development

To address the concerns of faculty regarding the type and quality of sources students cite in research projects, the Pacific Lutheran study examines the impact of different models of information literacy instruction (one shot vs. multi session) on first-year students’ development of research skills. Results indicate that students receiving shorter, more frequent instruction sessions made greater use of library resources and employed a greater number of search strategies.

Library Staff at PLU on Monday, Aug. 27, 2012. (Photo/John Froschauer)

Amy Stewart-Mailhiot, Instruction Coordinator & Reference Librarian at Mortvedt Library, Pacific Lutheran University

Q&A with Amy Stewart-Mailhiot, Instruction Coordinator and Reference Librarian

Q: What was your greatest challenge during the course of your Assessment in Action project?

A: My greatest challenge was finding balance – balance between the AiA project and my other responsibilities and balance in the distribution of project tasks.  In a small library it can be easier just do things yourself, rather than put the effort into navigating shared responsibilities.  This doesn’t really work in the community of practice model.

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

A: The one piece of advice would be to build on established relationships.  There may be more glamorous projects out there, but when you (and your campus) are new to assessment, it is wise to work with individuals you know well and who already support the work that you do.  This allows you to build your skills in a supportive environment. As an added bonus, they are more likely to go out and ‘testify’ about your findings – you can’t buy that kind of PR.

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

A: My primary take away is a combination of increased confidence in my abilities and an assessment worldview.  There are a number of smaller skills that I developed over the course of the 18 months, but this shift in the way I look at the work I do and the knowledge that I can do it will stay with me into future projects.


Submitted by Debbie Malone, VAL Committee member: 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. We welcome Sarah Wenzel, University of Chicago, who is our liaison to the Modern Language Association (MLA).

The Modern Language Association is best known among librarians for its eponymous index; however, the MLA itself as an organization is active in areas ranging from pedagogy to pay-equity to open-access scholarship. The scholarly work being done by its members is novel, interdisciplinary and increasingly reliant on technology either as a tool or as the medium of the object studied.

As liaison to the MLA I have been observing and reporting back to ACRL, particularly the Literatures in English and Western European Studies Sections, changes in topics of interest, types of scholarship, attitudes towards libraries and librarians, and most importantly areas in which I think we librarians can participate (or intervene) on our own campuses or with our own faculty. Some of these are, broadly speaking, discussions that are relevant to the Humanities in general and not unique to literary studies.

One aspect that librarians may need to pay attention to was brought out in a session held at the 2014 Convention : “What Is Data in Literary Studies?” The debate was not as interesting as the discussion afterward, which led to points being made that I have not heard literary scholars previously make, such as : “The Archive” must be defined; scholars need to state their methodologies; results must be reproducible. This acceptance of the data-set in lieu of “the archive” (scholar-speak for the collection of texts or other materials upon which they work), has implications for libraries. First is that as scholars need to define their data set, they will need to know what is in (or not in) the full-text databases to which we subscribe, or the HathiTrust, or Project Gutenberg. Will they begin to care about what is or isn’t in a digital collection? (Associate costs vs. content?)

Second is a need to store data sets formed from different sources, which will have an effect on institutional repositories. In addition, while faculty already are insisting on licenses that permit data-mining, what sort of permissions will be required for storage of the data set created?  A third will be that librarians responsible for teaching students literary research will need to learn the skills required to evaluate these projects. And a fourth implicates collection development: while looking through a bibliography is one way to judge the strength of a library’s collection in a given area, a data-set or corpus of digital works is an entirely different animal. Concepts such as these were brought home to me even further when I sat in on a digital humanities course at my university, both observing and contributing to the search for raw data, creation and eventual loss of the data sets gathered for the final projects. And yet this aspect of the digital humanities, in what was meant to be a sort of introduction to the field, went unmentioned by the teaching faculty.

Also of great interest at this past year’s Convention is how many sessions took the digital humanities in stride and presented research done using those techniques without the angst prevalent in previous years, although there was angst to be had if it were wanted. The use of these techniques and methods of study is not received uncritically and issues surrounding tenure and promotion are real. Librarians find themselves drawn into these questions when asked about the thorny topic of alternative metrics, a topic I find even more difficult to take on than copyright : I cannot simply say “I am not a lawyer.”

The novelty this year was the proliferation of papers on electronic literature, whether it was the “Liminal Textuality of Comments in Code,” literature through social media, the changes wrought by platform migration, or games, or “_ebooks, Typography, and Twitter Art.”  I continue to be concerned that libraries are not preserving literature (or non-fiction, for that matter) created in or drawing from these media.  And there is still the unanswered question of cataloging and access.

Other sessions dealt with topics that you might associate more readily with the MLA : literatures from around the world, comparative literature, language studies, theory, performance studies, comics, bibliography and our very own Libraries and Research in Languages and Literatures forum. All are inflected by changes in modes of study, research tools and techniques, and new discoveries. Even as the Humanities and perhaps none more so than literature are under stress, even within academia, the MLA continues to promote the values of its members and advocate on their behalf. The 2015 Convention theme, Negotiating Sites of Memory, offers scholars and librarians rich possibilities for interaction.

© 2014 ACRL Value of Academic Libraries Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha