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 Allison Ricker, Oberlin College, who is our liaison to the  American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

I am honored to serve as the ALA Liaison to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the “world’s largest general scientific society.”  AAAS is well-known as the publisher of Science, one of the most highly respected journals world wide to cover all aspects of science.  Researchers at any level as well as students and the general public, can appreciate the weekly issues of Science; every issue includes a review of science news in brief, research summaries, editorials or opinion pieces, letters, and reviews as well as peer-reviewed research articles of vital importance.  Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million.

AAAS is far more than a publisher.  The non-profit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to “advance science and serve society” through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, and more.  Its affiliations with 261 other academies of science, as well as scholarly, educational and research organizations make it the world’s largest non-profit federation of scientific and engineering societies.  AAAS and its Affiliates serve more than 10 million members.  The principal goals of AAAS are:

  • to further the work of scientists
  • to facilitate cooperation among them
  • to foster scientific freedom and responsibility
  • to improve the effectiveness of science in the promotion of human welfare
  • and to increase public understanding and appreciation of the importance and promise of the methods of science in human progress.

One of my functions as ALA Liaison is participating in the meeting of Affiliates at the AAAS Annual Meeting, hearing reports on legislative concerns, federal funding for science, and programs to develop scientific literacy and foster innovation.  The wide range of scientific interests and achievements represented in that one session is just a fraction of the dazzling array of symposia, workshops, posters, events, seminars and plenary lectures that make up the annual meeting.

Months before the annual meeting held in February, I send out a call inviting librarians to request free registration for the meeting.  For several years, the AAAS Publications Division has sponsored up to 30 librarians annually, covering the entire cost of meeting registration and/or negotiating a reduced fee for all librarian attendees.  To date, AAAS has supported meeting attendance for at least 240 librarians, thereby increasing our visibility among scientists as colleagues and potential collaborators in matters of scientific literacy, research and education.

My role in this process, as I see it, is akin to corralling feral cats. In the past three years there has been an initially enthusiastic response to the call for sponsored librarians (nearly 60 individuals vying for 30 sponsorships this fall), but inevitably and unavoidably several (or many) people cancel.  Contacting people on the wait list is an interesting exercise in email or phone tag.  Eventually, the list is finalized by mid-January and we join the throng in some conference city

Affiliate liaisons are appointed by AAAS to one the association’s 24 sections.  The 24 sections arrange symposia for the annual meeting, nominate fellows and review fellow submissions, elect officers, and provide expertise for association-wide projects. The ALA Liaison is affiliated with Section T, Information, Computing, and Communication.  Their business meeting and a session for librarians are the two other obligatory functions at the annual meeting.  Planning the librarian’s session, with assistance from AAAS staff, has been a delight. Our sessions have been an excellent way for librarians to give presentations and discuss among ourselves, as well as hear from the AAAS Publications Division staff, but we have not been as successful drawing in other meeting attendees.  There are, however, five days of opportunities for interaction with others, in invigorating and intellectually stimulating sessions and events that open possibilities for outreach and collaboration.  Some sponsored librarians have also given poster presentations in the general poster session, which brings hundreds of conferees together.

Many AAAS objectives and activities dovetail with those of ACRL, particularly in scholarly communication, legislative advocacy, facilitating research and education, and literacy broadly defined.  I have regularly attended sessions and events sponsored by the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER), which states, “Building on AAAS’s long-standing commitment to relate scientific knowledge and technological development to the purposes and concerns of society at large, [DoSER] facilitates communication between scientific and religious communities.”  As within ACRL, a diversity of viewpoints are respectfully considered, with an abiding interest in resolving misunderstandings with reliance on accurate information while supporting the fundamental rights of freedom of opinion and expression.

I am looking forward to the 2015 Annual Meeting on “Innovations, Information, and Imaging.”  The theme is a natural for a group of librarians, and I am sure we will find ways to promote library innovations for accessing, archiving and managing information, including imaging new and old collections to create digital resources for teaching and research.  Presentations at the librarian’s session, now in the early planning stages, will be posted on the Science site, at sciencemag.org/librarians.

Alison S. Ricker | Science Librarian | Oberlin College | aricker@oberlin.edu

Sep 302014
 

Two research studies are featured in the new publicity posters (links below) available for use from the VAL project that describe impact on students and (a) their use of library resources correlated to student retention and academic success, and (b) assessment of library instruction impact on academic success.

The article cited in two of the posters [Soria, Krista, Jan Fransen, and Shane Nackerud. “Library Use and Undergraduate Student Outcomes: New Evidence for Students’ Retention and Academic Success.” Portal: Libraries and the Academy 13.2 (2013): 147-64] finds a statistically significant improvement in GPA among first year undergraduate students who use the library.

The second study from the University of Wyoming, referenced in VAL-Poster-3, [Bowles-Terry, Melissa. "Library Instruction and Academic Success: A Mixed-Methods Assessment of a Library Instruction Program," Evidence Based Library and Information Practice 7. 1 (2012): 82-95] supports a tiered plan for instruction, teaching incrementally advanced research skills. Using both qualitative and quantitative methods, the authors describe student perceptions of library instruction programs as well as GPA of graduating students who had library instruction in their first year and upper-level library instruction. Analysis of data from their study shows a positive correlation between upper-level instruction and a higher GPA at graduation.

We often hear that the library is central to the campus, and we believe that our work is essential/important to the academic mission of the institution.  At the same time our funding agencies are pressing for more evidence of accountability and commitments to improvements and increasingly, quantitative measures of our impact on the output of the college or university.

The above articles and a growing body of literature these studies review are beginning to give real evidence of that impact.  Students’ use of libraries, from using library resources measured in the Minnesota study to quantifying that instruction in information research tailored to the level of need does improve student success.

The images linked below can be used to share with your campus and your users the message that libraries do make that difference.  You can use them as posters or in posts to social media to spread the word.

VAL-Poster-v1-2014.jpg – JPG File, 595.3 KB
By: Andrea Heisel

VAL-Poster-2-v1-2014.jpg – JPG File, 93.89 KB
By: Andrea Heisel

VAL-Poster-3-v1-2014.jpg – JPG File, 172.52 KB
By: Andrea Heisel

 

This post is from Peter McDonald, Dean of Library Services at Fresno State. He thanks Patty Iannuzzi and Theresa Byrd, whose conversations with him on this topic formed the ideas in the post below.

The accreditation commission Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), perhaps most effectively among all such agencies, has taken the a step toward fully including librarians in defining how academic institutions of higher learning have an impact on core competencies such as critical thinking and information literacy. WASC believes these have a direct impact on student engagement, retention, and graduation rates. Of course, these are areas where libraries already do, and in fact can continue to have, great impact. WASC has held several regional meetings over the past two years on evolving their standards where librarians from many diverse campuses were specifically invited to give input and help define meaningful rubrics on these and other competencies.

This emphasis by WASC, of course, has the added benefit of making most academic colleges and universities within the WASC region reach out to their own local libraries for greater support and partnership in accreditation efforts.

After looking at the WASC accreditation model, and in conversations with stakeholders about accreditation agencies elsewhere around the country, we’ve come to the conclusion that it may well serve our values work most if we don’t get hung up on the specific language in accreditation documentation that may lists requirements for accreditation in language other than ‘information literacy’. Though WASC specifically mentions information literacy, they also emphasize such critical student learning outcomes as undergraduate research,  critical thinking, inquiry and analysis, lifelong learning, writing proficiency and so on — all of which, in fact, are arenas of student success support where academic libraries, in collaboration with campus stakeholders, provide extensive services and referrals. (See for example: http://www.wascsenior.org/content/retreat-core-competencies-critical-thinking-and-information-literacy)  As academic librarians, we just need to message that these sorts of student centered foci are precisely what libraries are about already.

Using what we’ve learned working with WASC, we suggest we stop worrying about not being named specifically in accreditation documentation, or even in some cases removed from accreditation language, and get into the business of realizing we already have the  skills and the wherewithal to support any student outcome listed by any accreditation agency – by being nimble in using our many demonstrated skills to match whatever language the various regional agencies may use. Our role as central loci of student learning on our respective campuses therefore has many facets.

While librarians have had some success reaching out to, and influencing, accreditation discussions at WASC, it seems a salient take-away that academic libraries everywhere can play a stronger role in curriculum and course design best practices on our respective campuses, which doubtless would link back directly to almost any accreditation language irrespective of region. We firmly believe libraries are one of the most effective campus units that not only have a demonstrated impact on most all facets of curricular activities/outcomes regardless of discipline but we also bridge over to support and make successful co-curricular activities/outcomes so critical to student graduation and retention.

In the months ahead the ACRL Value Committee will be looking at ways to leverage the effective participation of librarians in WASC to provide broader documentation on how we actually do provide many existing services coast to coast, regardless of which agency we may belong to, that can show direct and indirect (correlative) impact on most all rubrics of student success well beyond the confines of information literacy.

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