We welcome a guest post from Danuta A. Nitecki, Dean of Libraries and Professor, College of Computing & Informatics at  Drexel University Libraries

As ACRL liaison to SCUP [Society for College and University Planners] I have become increasingly aware of how institutional planners and architects are addressing key issues in higher education.  I also try to impress such campus colleagues with contributions librarians make to the same set of topics.  In this blog post I share an example of an initiative, funded by a SCUP managed prize.  Through it, a collaboration of expertise from the practice of architecture, faculty research, and librarianship is focusing on creating a tool to assess learning within library space.  The broad research interest is to understand how factors in an environment relate to learning.

I am honored to have received the 2014-15 Perry Chapman prize with my two colleagues:   W. Michael Johnson is a practicing architect specializing in educational programming and academic facility design, and  is also an Adjunct Professor at The Spitzer School of Architecture, CCNY/CUNY, teaching how to use big data and empirical modeling in building design. Michael Khoo, Ph.D., is assistant teaching faculty at Drexel’s College of Computing and Informatics, with degrees in anthropology and communication, and fifteen years of ethnographic and qualitative research experience in field sites including libraries, archives, and digital libraries.   I am the practicing librarian on the research team, with over forty years of library administrative leadership experience, focusing on services, applications of technologies, and space design, as well as research, teaching and publications especially on topics of evaluation and assessment.

Since summer 2014 we have been studying how physical conditions influence learning outside of classrooms.  With assistance of students hired through the project, we are taking low-resolution time-lapse images with ceiling mounted cell phone cameras and recording these in a database.  These images allow us to study student engagement behaviors while they protect personal privacy.  The research records patterns of peer engagement among students, mapping the proximity between people as a proxy for the direct exchange of information.  Our IRB review determined that our work does not constitute human–subjects research.

Our goal is to provide evidence of physical conditions that foster a broad sharing of ideas across a campus. The outcome of the year-long project will be creation and testing of a tool to measure the density and frequency of peer interaction. This proximity mapping tool is intended to allow any campus planners, including librarians, to easily and confidentially gather empirical evidence for improving designs of learning environments.

For more information, including some sample images and updates, please visit our blog at: http://www.scup.org/page/resources/perry-chapman-prize/2014-2015team

The Perry Chapman prize of $10,000 has been awarded annually since 2012. As described on the SCUP website, “This prize funds research in the planning and design of institutions of higher education. The prize is intended to further the research, development, and dissemination of emerging knowledge to improve campus environments in support of their institution’s mission.”   Applications are now sought for the 2015-16 year which is the last scheduled for this prize; for details see http://www.scup.org/page/resources/perry-chapman-prize   SCUP administers the prize in honor of Perry Chapman and The Hideo Sasaki Foundation supports it.  Deadline for submission of proposals for 2015-16 is May 31, 2015.


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. You can also read full descriptive reports for this and other AiA projects, along with a synthesis of all the first year AiA projects

“I felt like such a Freshman!”: Creating Library Insiders

Independent learning activities, when coupled with reflection, are effective in providing an orientation to the library in particular and “academic life” in general. After participating in a self-guided library activity and reflecting on the process, students in DePaul’s First Year Experience program are able to articulate how the library can contribute to their success as academic learners.

Heather Jagman,  Coordinator of Reference, Instruction, and Academic Engagement at  DePaul University Library

Heather Jagman, Coordinator of Reference, Instruction, and Academic Engagement at DePaul University Library

Q&A with Heather Jagman, Coordinator of Reference, Instruction, and Academic Engagement

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

A: Participating in the Assessment in Action project helped me overcome my greatest challenge—making time to do assessment.  Since I was accountable to my campus team and the AiA librarian cohort, it wasn’t something I could put on the backburner and do “when I had time.”

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

A: Reach out to your academic and co-curricular partners!  They are interested in what we do, and are also looking for viable assessment projects.  See if you can capitalize on something you are already doing together—there’s no need to start from scratch and create some grand new experiment.  Libraries are already doing valuable and exciting work, and your partners can help you understand how you contribute to their success and the goals of your institution.    

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

A: Visibility.  Your co-curricular partners want to hear about how the library contributes to student learning and success, and will help you tell your story.


The upcoming ACRL Conference in Portland, Oregon offers a host of wonderful learning opportunities and exciting events. We want to highlight here sessions that focus on demonstrating the value of libraries and our role in meeting institutional strategic goals.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

ACRL Environmental Scan Discussion Forum, 8:00 AM – 9:AM, Oregon Convention Center, Room D1380140

A distinguished panel will review and discuss ACRL’s latest environmental scan, developed by ACRL’s Research Planning and Review Committee. The 2015 environmental scan presents the most significant changes taking place in higher education and identifies trends that will define the future of academic and research librarianship and the research environment.

The Signal and the Noise: Libraries and the Politics of Institutional Data, 8:00 AM – 9:00 AM, Oregon Convention Center, Room E141-143

Discover how to play a leading role in developing a strategic data analytics program at your institution, how to overcome institutional culture challenges, and how to assess your institution’s readiness to create a proactive, effective institutional data program.

Sustainably Supporting Assessment Work with Communities of Practice, 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM, Oregon Convention Center, Room F151-152

The session brings together five librarians to discuss their recent projects assessing student success and learning, as well as the communities of practice – – the ACRL Assessment in Action learning community environment and cohort group, plus local campus teams – – in which they worked and found support. Join this session to explore meaningful ways communities of practice can enhance your work and identify strategies for creating your own communities to sustainably support assessment initiatives.

Snapshot or Big Picture: Assessing Student Learning using the Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education, 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Oregon Convention Center, Room B115-116

How does the new, highly conceptualized Framework for Information Literacy in Higher Education impact assessment of student learning in academic libraries? How can librarians translate threshold concepts into outcomes, assessment methods, and results that demonstrate library value? This workshop will provide practical examples and strategies librarians can use to update their assessment practices and align them with the new Framework.

Saving Our Students: Higher Education Affordability Issues and the Expanding Role of Libraries with Open Educational Resources, 1:00 PM – 2:00PM, Oregon Convention Center, Portland Ballroom 252

Please join us for a panel presentation from three large, public University Libraries that are developing open educational resources (OER) programs and collections to improve affordability for students and enhance learning. Panelists will share ways they are engaging faculty on issues of textbook affordability, debunking myths about OERs, and developing programs to support the creation, use and adoption of OERs. Attendees will leave the session with actionable ways to develop programs at their institutions.

ACRL 75th Anniversary Invited Panel – New Roles for the Road Ahead, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM, Oregon Convention Center, Portland Ballroom, 252-258

ACRL’s 75th Anniversary is a time to look at the changing nature of academic libraries. Three librarians from different sectors of the profession joined forces on essays exploring emerging issues across a diverse collection of topics, from learning to technology to community. Join them and CLIR’s Chuck Henry for a lively conversation about what new roles academic librarians might take on to shape a sustainable higher education landscape, informed and enriched by enduring library values.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Putting the ‘Research’ in the Association of College & Research Libraries: 75 Years of “College & Research Libraries” and other ACRL Research Programs, 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM, Oregon Convention Center, room C123-124

Join us for a wide –ranging discussion of the role of the ACRL in promoting research and practice in academic librarianship, trends in the literature that have proven of enduring concern to our field, and the complementary roles of LIS programs, professional associations, and libraries in providing continuing professional education for librarians as researchers. During this panel, Jim Neal and Megan Oakleaf will also discuss the contributions to the 75th anniversary issue of College & Research Libraries, and panelists will engage attendees in a discussion of the future of ACRL research efforts.

Promoting Sustainable Research Practices Through Effective Data Management, 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM, Oregon Convention Center, Room A105-106

Learn how three academic librarians each developed a strategy for data management instruction in different contexts. Hear about the challenges encountered and successes achieved in providing a graduate course, a workshop for librarians, and a workshop series for graduate students at three public universities. Discover how we aligned our instructional design and techniques, learning outcomes, and instructional materials to our audience, assessed our effectiveness, and what we’ll do differently next time.

Cultivating Sustainable Library Publishing Services: Perspectives from a Range of Academic Libraries, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, Oregon Convention Center, Room F149-150

Discover how three institutions – a liberal arts college, a comprehensive university, and a research university – provide library-led publishing services to their campuses. The panelists will share how their respective institutions have developed and aligned policies, infrastructure, staffing, outreach and strategic partnerships in order to provide sustainable publishing services.

The Framework for Information Literacy and Its Impact on Student Learning, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM, Oregon Convention Center, Portland Ballroom 251-158

Join five panelists, including members of the Information Literacy Task Force, to discuss several examples for how the Framework for Information Literacy and threshold concepts have influenced campus initiatives. We will explore: an overview of current trends, using the Framework to shape institutional conversations, collaborations between librarians and centers for teaching and learning, mapping undergraduate learning goals for integration in the arts and humanities, and using inquiry-based learning to restructure a freshman bibliography lesson.

Library Value Communication: Conceptualizing Impact, Centering on Stakeholders, Crafting Messages, and Conveying the Story, 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM, Oregon Convention Center, Room B110-112

Librarians intuitively know their libraries are valuable, but shaping that knowledge into a compelling communication plan is a challenge. Join this workshop to learn concrete strategies for conveying your library’s value. We’ll engage in hands-on activities and discussions focused on defining value, identifying and prioritizing stakeholders, developing messages, and delivering the value story using a variety of methods. Leave with a new zest… and lots of ideas.. for revamping your library’s communication plan.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Getting Started with Academic Library Value: Strategies for Initiating Conversations, Expanding Thinking, and Taking Action, 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM, Oregon Convention Center, Room C123-124

Demonstrating academic library value can feel daunting or even intimidating. How can you start the value conversation in your library? What steps can you take to conceptualize your library’s value? What first actions can link your libraries to the mission and goals of your institution? Join this panel and discover the hands-on practical strategies employed by six librarians at a range of different institutions to initiate the value conversation in their libraries.

Sustaining Success: Creating Community College Assessment Methods, 8:30 AM – 9:30 AM, Oregon Convention Center, Room C123-124

Demonstrating the library’s contribution to student success, retention, and persistence from direct assessment is a critical role for all libraries. Learn how community college librarians who participated in the first cohort of ACRL’s Assessment in Action initiative made progress on this important goal and benefitted from their own community of practice. You will leave with ways to engage in the assessment conversations at your institution and several specific models you can adapt for your library.

Learning Analytics and Privacy: Multi-Institutional Perspectives on Collecting and Using Library Data, 9:45 AM – 10:45 AM, Oregon Convention Center, Room B117-119

Panelists from three institutions will discuss and debate how individual-patron library resource use data can be utilized using learning analytics techniques. They will discuss how the benefits of these techniques are balanced against privacy concerns in the era of the Patriot Act and NSA surveillance. Find out how these institutions have grappled with these issues and how you can continue the conversation in your local context.

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